A Republican campaign official has filed a complaint accusing Democrat Ted Kennedy Jr. of skirting campaign finance laws by raising $40,000 for the state Democratic Party that seems to have flowed back to his publicly financed campaign for state Senate.
But Tom Banisch, who is managing the campaign of Kennedy’s opponent, Bruce H. Wilson Jr., and filed the complaint, issued a statement that seemed to concede that Kennedy’s fundraising may be legal, but violates the spirit of the public financing law.
“It appears Mr. Kennedy found a loophole in the law and is taking advantage of a system that was supposed to level the playing field,” Banisch said. “Instead of sticking to the grant total, Mr. Kennedy is trying to buy this seat.”
The complaint was reported by the Branford Seven and Branford Eagle, two news sites covering Kennedy’s hometown, one of six in the 12th Senatorial District. Kennedy and Wilson are running for an open seat now held by the retiring Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford.
Kennedy, his wife and his brother all made maximum contributions of $10,000 to the state party. Three employees of the company Kennedy founded, the Marwood Group, together gave another $10,000. The party has spent slightly more than $40,000 supporting Kennedy’s campaign.
Kennedy is free to contribute to the state party and encourage others to do the same, and the party is free to support his campaign. The question for the State Elections Enforcement Commission is whether Kennedy somehow illegally directed the state party contributions to come back to his campaign.
While state law allows maximum contributions of $10,000 to the state party, the maximum contribution to a publicly financed candidate is $100. To qualify for a general-election grant of $93,690, state Senate candidates must raise $15,000.
The Kennedy campaign denied any wrongdoing.
“There is no basis to the charge,” said John Murphy, the campaign’s manager. “Ted has raised money for the party for years.”