Joe Markley election violation case appeal dismissed

Photo of Emilie Munson
Joe Markley, Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, 2018.
Joe Markley, Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, 2018.Contributed Photo / Contributed Photo

A Superior Court judge on Friday dismissed the case of two Republican lawmakers who are fighting thousands in fines for campaign finance violations dating back to 2014.

Judge Joseph M. Shortall in New Britain ruled that state Sen. Joe Markley and state Rep. Rob Sampson did not file their appeal of the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s denial of their petition within 45 days, as required by state statute.

Markley, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Sampson, who is seeking Markley’s Senate seat, were ordered this spring by the SEEC to pay $2,000 and $5,000 in fines respectively.

Markley said the pair plan to continue fighting the case and have not yet paid the fines.

“I don’t agree with the judge’s decision,” Markley said. “We’ve got many alternative avenues.”

Markley disagreed with the judge as to when the clock started ticking in the petition process and, according to Markley’s assessment of the timeline, their appeal was filed on time.

The SEEC decided their 2014 campaign mailers — which the Republican duo split the cost of —were an effort to help Republican Tom Foley’s challenge to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2014. The SEEC ruled in February that the mailers, which criticized Malloy, were illegal expenditures on behalf of Foley, who would have had to share the cost of the mailers.

The election regulators said that the duo were subject to the discipline because they participated in the public-financing program, which gave Markley $56,814 and Sampson, $27,850.

“We simply don’t believe we were wrong,” Markley said Friday. “And we want to establish the principle that the policies of the sitting governor are a fair topic of campaign conversation.”

The dispute has not affected Markely’s run for lieutenant governor.

“It has not come up as an issue in this campaign.”

Markley and Sampson were represented by Allen Dickerson of the Alexandria, Va-based Institute for Free Speech and Michael Cronin, a legal advisor for Senate Republicans. Neither attorney was immediately available for comment.

The SEEC, who also did not immediately respond, was represented by Attorney General George Jepsen.; Twitter: @emiliemunson