State Elections Enforcement Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


At a Glance

 

STEPHEN F. CASHMAN, Chairman

Joan Jenkins, Vice Chair

Jeffrey B. Garfield, Executive Director and General Counsel

Albert P. Lenge, Deputy Director and Assistant General Counsel

Joan M. Andrews, Director of Legal Affairs and Enforcement

Brian Clonan, Director of Information Technology

Mann Hasen, Agency Information Technology Manager

Shannon Kief, Director of Legal Compliance

Dianna Kulmacz, Director of Campaign Disclosure and Public Information

Jean Love, Director of Fiscal Affairs, Administration and Grant Payments

Nancy S. Nicolescu, Director of Communications, Legislative Affairs and Candidate Services

Beth Rotman, Director of Public Campaign Financing

 

Established – 1974

Statutory authority – CGS Secs.  9-7a, 9-7b

Central office – 20 Trinity Street,

Hartford, CT  06106-1628

Number of employees – 52

Recurring operating expenses - $1,712,847

Citizens’ Election Fund - $2,877,792

 


 

Mission

 

To improve and maintain the confidence of the people of Connecticut in the electoral process and the officials involved in that process.

 

The Commission was established in the post Watergate era of 1974 as an independent agency in the Executive branch of State government, and we enforce laws pertaining to state and local elections, primaries and referenda.  The Commission is comprised of 5 members, and is bi-partisan in composition.  The Commission's goal is to prevent violations from occurring by ensuring that those who require advice obtain it in a timely manner. 

 

Statutory Responsibility

     The Commission’s statutory responsibility is to enforce provisions of state election laws pertaining to elections, primaries and referenda.  With the passage of Public Act 05-5, the Commission’s responsibilities were considerably expanded, and now include the administration and enforcement of the new Citizens’ Election Program (CEP).  The CEP provides public campaign grants to qualified candidates for statewide offices and the General Assembly, who adhere to expenditure limits and other program requirements.  The Commission is also charged with developing and implementing an electronic campaign reporting system (eCRIS).  The Commission is now the state campaign finance filing repository for all campaign finance records for party committees, political committees and candidate committees organized for state elections. The Commission is charged with the specific responsibility to conduct investigations of election complaints, review campaign finance statements filed by candidates, political parties and political committees, issue advisory opinions concerning requirements of the campaign finance laws and suggest revisions to the election laws to the Connecticut General Assembly.

 

Public Service

     The Commission is a non-partisan agency within the Executive branch of state government and serves as an impartial arbiter of complaints alleging violations of the election laws.  The Commission takes a proactive approach to educate candidates, campaign officials, political parties and citizens of their rights, duties and obligations under the election laws in order to ensure voluntary compliance with the law.  The Commission staff conducted 23 workshops and training sessions during the year in the following areas: eCRIS electronic reporting, the Citizens’ Election Program, and Municipal Campaign Financing. The Commission also submitted recommendations to the General Assembly for revising the campaign finance laws.

 

Improvements/Achievements 2008-09

Public Financing Unit. Connecticut’s landmark public campaign financing program, the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) was successfully implemented through the primaries and regular election in 2008 and two special elections early in 2009, involving a total of 271 participating candidates. Almost 75% of all candidates in the 2008 election cycle participated in the CEP, closely approximating the projected level of participation gleaned from responses to the Commission’s 2007 survey of all 2006 General Assembly candidates.  Legislative changes necessary to administer the CEP were recommended to the General Assembly. The unit continues working on drafting forms, and training materials necessary to implement and administer the CEP for the 2010 regular election, which will include both statewide offices and the General Assembly, and it actively participates in outreach and education programs throughout the state. 

 

Candidate Services Subdivision.  This subdivision is headed by a Director of Communications, Legislative Affairs and Candidate Services.  The subdivision is responsible for working closely with candidates running for statewide offices or General Assembly, especially those participating in the new CEP program, providing candidates and campaign treasurers with materials and training necessary to understand the CEP requirements.  In the past fiscal year, the Candidate Services Unit assisted 35 candidates in primary races, 343 candidates in the regular election and 4 candidates in special elections. Early in 2009, the unit conducted a survey of all participating campaigns to measure customer satisfaction, and obtain suggestions about improving service. This subunit’s Director also handles the agency’s media and public relations activities, providing internal communications support to the agency by managing the agency’s website, coordinating the Commission’s legislative activities as well as acting as liaison with legislators, and for coordinating training opportunities for staff.  The Unit also operates a successful Internship Program, which provided opportunities to 8 interns to enhance academic, professional, and career development skills while achieving program and project goals.

 

Legal and Compliance Subdivision.  This subdivision has drafted and completed numerous declaratory rulings, advisory opinions and opinions of counsel.  The attorneys involved assist citizens, candidates and committees with their understanding of, and participation in, the election process and this includes both the public financing and private financing requirements of the campaign finance statutes. The attorneys answered over 2,000 legal questions from citizens, candidates and committee staff regarding state and local elections, referenda, fundraising, and the Citizens’ Election Program.  They have published numerous handbooks, guides and other informational material and provided trainings throughout the state.  The unit has developed a record-keeping, research and review process designed to assure consistent, accurate and expeditious responses. The unit also worked closely with the Attorney General’s office to gather facts and statistics in support of the pending litigation challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of the public campaign financing statutes as well as to provided expert advice concerning the litigation challenge to the campaign contribution bans imposed on lobbyists and state contractors (Green Party v. Garfield, No. 3:06cv1030 (D.Conn. (SRU). 

 

Campaign Disclosure and Audit Unit. The Unit’s activities continued to focus on the implementation of Public Acts 05-5, 06-137, 07-1 and 08-2 concerning new campaign disclosure requirements as well as the Citizens’ Election Program providing public campaign financing for candidates for statewide office or General Assembly.  The Unit serves as the filing repository for party committees, political committees and candidate committees registered for Statewide or General Assembly offices.

 

     The Unit receives the paper campaign disclosure filings and scans them into the e-CRIS Document Search System  The registration and campaign finance disclosure forms submitted by party committees, political committees, and candidate committees are now able to be filed either electronically via the Electronic Campaign Reporting Information System (eCRIS) or as a signed paper filing.  The Unit has assisted in supporting members of the public in its use of eCRIS.  Staff members have also trained the public in using the eCris system; and on the Citizens’ Election Program.

 

     The Unit has developed a comprehensive review process for candidates who have applied for public campaign financing under the CEP.  Staff reviewed committee expenditures, and qualifying contribution documentation for more than 275 campaigns which applied for public campaign financing grants, and recommended grant approval to the Commission for 274 candidates that participated in special elections, primaries and the regular election. In addition, the Unit is in process of conducting audits of all committees that participated in the 2008 General Assembly elections and special elections held in 2008, and will complete all post election audits by the close of the next fiscal year.  The Unit prepares Draft Audit reports which are presented to the Commission for consideration.

 

     The Unit is also responsible for gathering the information from state agencies concerning contractors barred from making campaign contributions. It receives electronic submissions from state agencies each month and verifies any additions or deletions to those lists.

 

Information Technology Systems and Services Unit.  The IT unit continued the development and enhancement of the many applications designed and supported at the SEEC. The SEEC Web Portal was redesigned with a new look, and with new areas and content, including new reports, treasurer’s corner, information about the Agency and its Units, plus an updated site map.  A new search function has also been completed for Commission Decisions; that allows users to search for case decisions.  The unit also made significant improvements to the eCRIS system including several new reports for the Audit Unit and a very comprehensive search function for our users (Phase 2).  This allows our users to search the eCRIS system and provides them with many different views of the data including searches for documents, committees, disbursements, receipts and summary totals.  In addition to the direct entry of electronic data, there has been an implementation of a data entry module for eCRIS.  This now allows the paper filers’ data to be received and entered into the eCRIS electronic system, thus giving a better look at all the information in one place.  eCRIS training included classes with hands-on teaching, help guides and detailed documentation.   Training continues to be a top priority as more users are moving from paper filings to our electronic system.  The eCRIS application also has the benefit of a new dedicated help desk which has assisted in over 500 calls.  We currently have 414 voluntary users of the system, a testimonial to its user friendly design, and to the support we give our users.  A dedicated phone number, e-mail and complete ticketing system has been implemented for all support calls in regards to eCRIS and 24/7 support is provided by the IT staff during the filing periods.  

 

Administration and Fiscal Operations.  The third annual report on the status of the Citizens’ Election Fund was completed as required by law.  Fiscal year 2008-2009 was the second year in which public campaign grant expenditures were made from the Fund.  Administration and Fiscal Operations staff facilitated transmission of 274 grant payments to qualified candidates for the General Assembly in 2008. Grant expenditures totaled $9,238,775 for the 2008 calendar year, which included grants to 4 candidates running for office in two special elections held on March 2 and March 24, 2009, 35 primary grants, 235 general election grants and 1 supplemental grant approved for candidates in the 2008 regular state election cycle.  Due to a significant increase in grant payments and other administrative services, the unit has hired two Connecticut Career Trainees to facilitate the work loads.

 

     This unit had converted the Commission into a “Self Service Time Entry” starting with pay period ending on 6/4/09.  This conversion was completed by working closely with DOIT in establishing the security roles in CORE and conducted training sessions for all staff within the agency.

 

     The Manager of the Unit also serves as the Commission’s Affirmative Action officer, and the Commission’s plan was approved by CHRO during this fiscal year. 

 

 

Investigations and Enforcement Unit.  The Commission investigated 199 new cases that were either docketed as a result of a sworn complaint or from a decision by the Commission to initiate a case investigation on its own motion. These investigations run a full gamut of election issues, including matters of election administration, the process of voting, the campaign finance laws, and the new Citizens’ Election Program.  These case investigations do not include a number of complaints that were filed which alleged facts that, even if accepted as true, would not have constituted violations of state election law.  The Investigations and Enforcement Unit collected $105,823.57 in late filing fees, civil penalties and forfeitures for violations of election laws, which was deposited in the General Fund.  The Investigations and Enforcement Unit also provided legal support and expert advice concerning federal court challenges to the campaign contribution bans imposed on lobbyists and state contractors as well as the Citizens’ Election Program requirements for financing the campaigns of candidates nominated by minor parties. 

 

Information Reported as Required by State Statute

     Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Statutes Sec. 9-7a (c), the Commission is required to provide the following information concerning its activities:

     Of the 199 new complaints docketed during this fiscal year, the following municipalities had more than one complaint:

 

Bristol, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Hartford, Manchester, Middlebury, New Britain, New Haven, Plainville, Stafford Springs, Southbury, Waterbury, Wethersfield, West Haven, Wolcott, and Woodstock.

 

     Of the 165 new cases and 56 prior year cases that were closed this fiscal year, 107 resulted in monetary penal sanctions (late filing fees, civil penalties or forfeitures), 8 resulted in reprimands or orders to comply, 22 were dismissed with finding of no violation and 28 resulted in compliance with no further action taken. There were 101 additional complaints that remained open at the close of the fiscal year.