The local political group that distributed an endorsement letter at the center of an ethics complaint into First Selectman Kevin Moynihan last week turned over an original version of the letter to the appointed municipal body investigating the matter.
The Republican Town Committee also submitted to the New Canaan Ethics Board printed copies of what it described as email correspondence and a list of those to whom the letter was sent, according to documents received Feb. 23 by the Town Clerk’s office and available there in a public file.
Viewable here on the town website, the complaint alleges that Moynihan violated the town Code of Ethics in multiple ways when he described the Board of Education race to letter recipients while urging them to vote for the Republican slate. It was filed by Micaela Porta the day before Election Day. In January, the Ethics Board made a finding of probable cause that further investigation is warranted.
Moynihan has criticized the complaint itself as well as the Ethics Board’s resolution from January, calling it a “perversion and politicization.” The RTC also has issued a statement, saying in part: “It is customary for elected leaders to publicly endorse and support candidates of their parties. It is also their right to do so, as protected by the First Amendment.”
Earlier this month, the Ethics Board resolved to seek the additional information and documentation from the RTC as part of its investigation—an original copy of the letter as well as a sample of the envelope that Moynihan’s letter was sent in, any other printed material included in it, and the mailing list.
One of its findings was: “Among the issues to be considered is whether the letter can be protected political speech when respondent [Moynihan] used the authority of his town office, a valuable town resource, to influence new resident voters with what may be a partisan interpretation of local election dynamics. Other questions include whether the interpretation was correct and what resources were used to create and send the letter.”
RTC Vice Chair Daniel LaGattuta and member Christopher Wilson in a cover letter to Ethics Board Secretary Tammie Garner said it was including “a copy of email correspondence between a member of the RTC and the Republican Registrar of Voters covering both the request for an receipt of publicly available information on registered voters which formed the basis of the RTC’s mailing list.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the RTC’s reference to “the basis” of the mailing list meant that no other resources or methods were used to compile it.
It also wasn’t immediately clear why, according to printed copies of the submitted correspondence, the RTC member’s request for the voter list appears to come after the list itself is compiled through the Republican registrar’s office and forwarded to the RTC.
Here’s the sequence of emails included in what the RTC refers to as “Exhibit II” (they include RTC member John Kriz, Registrar of Voters Joan McLaughlin and town IT Systems Administrator Sal DeLucia):
5 p.m. Oct. 20 McLaughlin to DeLucia: “Hi Sal, Could you change this into Excel. Joan”
8:40 a.m. Oct. 21 DeLucia to McLaughlin: “Here you go.”
10:05 a.m. Oct. 21 McLaughlin forwards DeLucia’s email to Kriz with no message.
10:12 a.m. Oct. 21 McLaughlin to Kriz: “Hi John, We are really busy at this time. I think it best that if you need something, then please request it in a detailed email. That way, you will be able to receive it faster. Regards, Joan”
11 a.m. Oct. 21 Kriz to McLaughlin: “Hello Joan—I would like an excel file of all new voter registrations from 1 July 2020 until now. This would include names, party affiliation, date of birth, telephone number and full addresses. Please let me know if you need any clarification. Thanks so much! John”
It isn’t clear whether the email string itself was also forwarded electronically to the Ethics Board. The packet of information that the RTC turned over is marked as delivered “By Hand.”
Ethics Board Chair Tucker Clauss said at the group’s Feb. 8 meeting, “At some point we may want to talk to the Registrar [of Voters] about the list that we review from the RTC.”
The Ethics Board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for April 12. The Board has scheduled several special meetings, as needed, following receipt of the ethics complaint.