Wednesday, October 11, 2017
By James Lomuscio
UPDATE The monies raised by each of the four Westport candidates for first selectman over the past three months ranged from 0 to more than $67,000 in total receipts.
Democrat Melissa Kane and running mate Rob Simmelkjaer’s contributions were more than double that of incumbent Republican Jim Marpe and running mate Jennifer Tooker.
The amounts tallied from July 1 to Sept. 30 were posted Tuesday, the deadline for each candidates to submit his or her itemized campaign finance disclosure statements to the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC).
Kane, a Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member, had the lion’s share of donations with $61,559 in contributions from individuals, $5,416 from committees and $67,035.27 in total receipts.
And that amount does not include Kane’s complete war chest, as her second selectman running mate Simmelkjaer, who registered separately with the SEEC, raised $14,550 in individual contributions. Combined, their total was $81,585.27.
Marpe and running mate Tooker filed as team Marpe-Tooker for Westport, garnering $32,705 during the past three months, including $31,900 in individual contributions and $750 from committees.
According to campaign finance law, no individual donation to a first selectmen candidate can be more than $1,000. A second selectman contribution is limited to $250 per individual donation.
At the end of the reporting period, Marpe-Tooker reported having $47,190.41 on hand while Kane and Simmelkjaer’s combined total was $62,750.76.
Avi Kaner, Marpe’s campaign manager and current second selectman not seeking a second term, said Kane’s and Simmelkjaer’s fundraising efforts relied “heavily on outside, non-Westport donors and influence” in an effort to have a Democrat in the top post.
“Our opponent’s strategy is consistent with the national ‘Code Blue’ organization called in to try to flip Westport,” Kaner said. “I have been in elected office in Westport for 12 years. I have never seen a national, partisan organization brought in to interfere in a local election in Westport.”
Ellen Lautenberg, Kane’s campaign chairwoman, responded to Kaner’s criticism.
“It looks like they’re trying to make our fundraising into a partisan issue by mentioning things like Code Blue, when the reality is even though Code Blue endorsed Melissa’s campaign, they do not do fundraising,” Lautenberg. “They are described as a grassroots volunteer organization.
“We have not gotten any funds from that network or any other similar organizations that we are aware of,” she added.
John F. Suggs, an RTM member who in early August announced his plan to run as an independent for the top post, raised $4,645 in individual donations, according to the disclosure statement he filed with the Town Clerk.
Unaffiliated candidate Timothy J. Elgin, who filed a short form disclosure statement, checked off a box stating he did not receive contributions “or other funds, or make or incur expenditures in excess of $1,000 for the period covered.”
According to Town Clerk Patricia Strauss, the candidates will have another campaign finance disclosure statement due Oct. 31 for the period from Oct. 1 through 29.
“So, they only have two days to compile their four weeks of activity,” Strauss said.
This story has been updated with comments from Kane’s campaign chairwoman.
Posted 10/11/17 at 08:39 PM Permalink