Young, Democrats file elections complaint

State Rep. Phil Young and three other Democrats running for re-election this fall are asking for an investigation into what they claim are illegal actions by a political action committee with ties to the nation’s capital.

Young, D-120, joined with fellow Democratic state representatives Joe Joe Aresimowicz, Liz Linehan and Michael Winkler in filing a letter of complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission against Change Connecticut, a political action committee registered in the state.

State Rep. Philip Young

In the Aug. 1 letter, the Democrats claimed that Change Connecticut failed to properly file paperwork within 24 hours of making an expenditure of at least $1,000. They also claim that Change Connecticut “failed to attribute the independent expenditure in question to the candidates for the Connecticut House of Representatives whom the expenditure has benefitted” as required by state law.

According to the letter, nearly all of Change Connecticut’s $400,000 in assets come from a pair of large donations from the Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee. The only other contribution it received was from its treasurer, William Phillips of Milford, who contributed $500.

“Given the large amount of out-of-state money coming into Change Connecticut for the purpose of influencing Connecticut General Assembly elections, it is critical that the committee’s monetary receipts and independent expenditures be properly and promptly reported – consistent with Connecticut law and in order to safeguard the integrity of our public campaign financing system,” the Democrats’ letter reads.

The letter adds that Change Connecticut failed to attribute a $77,699 expenditure to Percipient Strategies LLC of Washington for “research dossiers” to the various Connecticut House of Representatives campaigns that benefited from its services.

Young said Tuesday that he was informed in June that several people had inquired about him with the Stratford Police Department and the town’s registrar of voters office. He also said that his wife received a “push call” asking questions that were “slanted toward conservatives,” including what she thought about President Donald Trump, a Republican.

“If they are doing these things, they have to register this stuff,” Young said. “That’s the whole problem. An outside company is paying for this and not reporting it.”

Young is running for his first full term as 120th District state representative. The former 6th District town councilman defeated Republican Bill Cabral in a special election last February to serve out the remaining term of Laura Hoydick, who stepped down from the state seat after winning the town’s mayoral race last November.

Young will be challenged by Republican nominee and former Board of Education chairman James Feehan and independent candidate Prez Palmer.  

Ben Davol, a spokesman for Change Connecticut, said by email on Tuesday that they have requested and received a copy of the Democrats’ complaint “and our attorneys are reviewing it.”

“We believe we are in compliance with the law and look forward to the [SEEC] review at their meeting on Aug 15th,” Davol said.

No agenda for the SEEC’s Aug. 15 meeting was available online on Tuesday. SEEC attorney Joshua Foley said Tuesday via email that he could not confirm or deny any complaint from the Democrats and that “all new complaints will be brought before the Commission at the August 15 meeting.”

About author
Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

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