Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has been using her taxpayer-funded office to maintain a computerized list of names and email addresses of thousands of Democratic activists and campaign contributors — to whom she sends a monthly newsletter touting her accomplishments.
Since June, Merrill — a Democrat who has preached “good government” since winning her $110,000-a-year job as the state’s top elections official in 2010 — has been emailing a publication called “News From Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State” to more than 5,000 recipients each month.
Her actions are reminiscent of widely condemned practices by her predecessor in the office, Susan Bysiewicz. Bysiewicz’s campaign for state attorney general failed in 2010 amid a scandal over a politically tinged “constituent database” — which Bysiewicz maintained in her office and utilized to send a similar newsletter of her own.
State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola called on Merrill Saturday to stop sending the newsletter, saying she is “using taxpayer resources and abusing her office for her own political gain.” Labriola, reacting to Friday night’s publication of this column on the website courant.com, said he may request an investigation into whether state laws or regulations have been violated.