Aresimowicz files election complaint against opponent, Berlin Republicans

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz has filed an election complaint alleging coordination between his opponent, Berlin Republicans, and a “concerned taxpayer.”

Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said in the Nov. 8 complaint that ads from the campaign for Republican Mike Gagliardi and the unidentified “concerned taxpayer” used the same photo-shopped image in advertisements and campaign materials, which he said is proof of coordination.

Gagliardi challenged Aresimowicz for the 30th House District seat representing parts of Berlin and Southington. Aresimowicz leads Gagliardi by just 37 votes in an election that is going to a recount Tuesday beginning at 9 a.m.

Gagliardi, Anne Reilly, chairwoman for the Berlin Republican Town Committee, and Salvatore Bordonaro, treasurer for both Gagliardi’s campaign and the Berlin Republicans, all couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

In the complaint, Aresimowicz raises concerns about two advertisements that appeared in the Nov. 1 Berlin Citizen, as well as signs displayed on Election Day. The Citizen is owned by RJ Media Group, which is also the parent company of the Record-Journal.

The two ads featured the same image containing cropped photos of Aresimowicz and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

A half-page ad that also includes some text indicates it was paid for by Gagliardi’s campaign, but the second, smaller ad states it was “paid for by a concerned citizen.”

“Clearly this person or persons had access to the graphic before it appears in the newspaper, and the efforts directly complement each other,” he said in the complaint. While candidates can coordinate with their political parties, they cannot coordinate with any independent organizations.

All candidates, parties, and other organizations are also required to disclose when they pay for an advertisement or other campaign material.

Aresimowicz said in the complaint that he also observed “at least three… apparently professionally produced signs” with the “same imagery and slogan” at polling places in Berlin on Nov. 6. He said the signs, which he estimated were four-feet-by-four-feet, also indicated that they were paid for by the concerned taxpayer.

He questioned in the complaint whether the expenditures collectively exceed $1,000, which would require the person or group funding the materials to file with SEEC.

SEEC’s database didn’t include any filings Monday indicating expenses on behalf of the person or group, although staying under the $1,000 threshold wouldn’t require a disclosure.

A spokesman for SEEC said he couldn’t comment on the complaint. SEEC’s next meeting is Wednesday, when the commission could decide on whether it wants to investigate the complaint.

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