Foley sues to block Fedele’s campaign from public financing

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley asked a Hartford Superior Court judge Friday to block his rival, Michael Fedele, from spending the $2.18 million in public financing that Fedele was awarded Thursday.

Judge Grant Miller refused to issue an injunction that would block the State Elections Enforcement Commission or the comptroller’s office from transferring the money to Fedele, who has agreed not to spend any of the funds until after another hearing Monday.

Copy of Foley lawsuit

Foley had asked the elections commission to postpone awarding Fedele the public financing, saying that the panel had inappropriately allowed Fedele and his running mate, Mark Boughton, to pool their qualifying contributions.

“We want to make sure the SEEC and any campaigns seeking public financing follow the rules,” said Justin Clark, the campaign manager for Foley. “We don’t think they have.”

To qualify for public financing, a gubernatorial candidate must raise $250,000 in donations of no more than $100. Without public financing for Fedele, he has little chance of competing with the wealthy Foley.

Foley failed to formally appeal the elections commission’s advisory opinion, which cleared the way for Fedele and  Boughton to join their finances, despite being advised of the process, said the commission’s staff.

The Fedele campaign reacted angrily today, accusing Foley of using the courts in an effort to hamper a challenger’s campaign.

“It seems if he can’t win by campaigning, he’s trying to win by suing,” said Chris Cooper, a spokesman.

Foley’s objections to his Republican opponent’s participation in the Citizens’ Election Program are three-fold.

First, Clark says about 10 percent of the $250,000 in donations raised between Fedele and Boughton should not be counted.

The donation limit is $100 to a campaign to qualify for public financing, but Clark says $24,000 was raised by Fedele and Boughton by each of them receiving the maximum donation from the same people.

“This violates the letter and spirit of the law,” he said.

Another question being raised is whether non-party endorsed candidates  are allowed to team with endorsed candidates to receive public grants as a team. Boughton is the endorsed candidate for lieutenant, while Foley was endorsed by the GOP convention for governor.

“It’s unclear if they are even allowed to have a joint fundraising committee,” he said.

The final objection is whether Fedele should qualify a supplemental grant, since Clark says the law says only spending after the party’s nominating convention is to be counted towards these grants.

Clark says Foley has not spent enough money since the May convention to qualify Fedele-Boughton for the almost $1 million additional grant.

“It he’s going to opt into the program, we really feel he should play by the rules,” Clark said.

Fedele is the only one of the three Republican gubernatorial candidates seeking public financing. He is competing for the GOP nomination with Foley and Oz Griebel in an Aug. 10 primary.