Tom Morey got it right but the State Elections Enforcement Commission says it doesn't have jurisdiction.
Gale Alexander's selection as the Democrats' candidate for State Rep is absolutely, unequivocally wrong and resulted from a scheme involving the newly-elected Democratic Town Committee Chair, Andy Grossman, who was just hired to be Alexander's campaign manager!
With Mr. Morey's permission, here's an explanation of what happened and how the scheme worked to exclude all good New Milford Democrats from the selection process.
1) Section 5.2 of the By-Laws of the New Milford Democratic Town Committee ("DTC") requires that candidates for town offices must be selected by caucus. A "caucus" is a meeting of all Town Democrats at which they vote for a candidate. This is compared to a meeting of the Democratic Town Committee that consists only of the DTC's elected leaders and at which only the Committee Members vote.
2) The position of State Representative is a town (municipal) office. See § 9-372(7)of the Connecticut General Statutes.
3) Historically, every Democratic candidate for State Representative has been selected by the DTC caucus. In fact, in May, 2012, Grossman himself was selected by caucus (not Committee) to run for State Rep.
4) A Notice was printed in the May 16, 2014 of a local paper announcing a May 21, 2014 caucus for the selection of a Registrar of Voters.
5) No notice was ever given for the selection of a candidate for State Representative.
6) Marcel Grenier was selected by the caucus as the DTC's candidate for Registrar of Voters.
7) Mr. Grenier's Certificate of Party Endorsement -- a mandatory document -- was filed in the Clerk's office on May 23, 2014. The "caucus" box was appropriately checked because Mr. Grenier was properly selected as a candidate for that position by the DTC caucus as required by its By-Laws.
8) The DTC caucus took no further action and it adjourned. However, as evidenced by the contents of a June 11, 2014 article from the News-Times, the DTC Town Committee selected Gale Alexander as its candidate for State Representative.
9) Even though the DTC caucus took no action with regard to Alexander as required by the DTC By-Laws if it wished to select him as its candidate for the town office of State Representative, on May 23, 2014 a Certificate of Party Endorsement was filed for Alexander for the position of State Representative. On the Certificate, the "Town Committee Meeting" box was checked evidencing that he was selected by the DTC Town Committee as its alleged candidate for the position of State Representative.
10) The fact that the "Town Committee Meeting" box was checked on Alexander's Certificate of Party Endorsement is an admission that Alexander was selected by the Democratic Town Committee, not by the DTC caucus as its By-Laws require. The caucus never selected Alexander as a candidate for anything.
Section 9-390 of the Connecticut General Statutes entitled, "Selection of party-endorsed candidates for municipal office and selection of delegates to conventions" provides, in relevant part:
(a) ...party-endorsed candidates of any party in any municipality for municipal office shall be selected, in accordance with the rules of such party, by: (1) The enrolled members of such party in such municipality in caucus, (2) delegates to a convention chosen in accordance with such rules by such enrolled members, or (3) the town committee of such party. The town chairman or his designee shall give notice in a newspaper having a general circulation in the town of the date, time, location and purpose of a caucus held pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection. Such notice shall be given not less than five days prior to the date set for the caucus; provided, if the rules of the party in any municipality require earlier notice, such party rules shall prevail.
This Statute enables a party to choose by "rules of such party" one of three alternative methods for the selection of its candidates for town office:
1) by the enrolled members of such party in such municipality in caucus; OR
2) by delegates to a convention chosen in accordance with such rules by such enrolled members; OR
3) by the town committee.
As set forth above, in Section 5.2 of its By-Laws the DTC chose method number 1 and this is the method that has been in effect and used for about 50 years.
In compliance with its 9-390 option to choose candidates for town office by caucus and in compliance with Section 5.2 of its By-Laws, the DTC gave notice of a caucus with regard to one candidate only, Marcel Grenier. It then conducted the caucus and the caucus lawfully selected him as its choice for Registrar of Voters.
The selection of Alexander by the DTC is quite another story. Contrary to its 9-390 choice to select town candidates by caucus and contrary to Section 5.2 of its By-Laws, it is admitted that Alexander was "selected" by vote of the Town Committee rather than by caucus.
In his Complaint to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Mr. Morey asked that the selection of Alexander by the members of the DTC Town Committee as its candidate for State Representative be nullified and stricken from the ballot because: a) the DTC failed to comply with the choice it made under 9-390; and b) the DTC failed to comply with its 9-390 choice -- set forth in Section 5.2 of its By-Laws -- that requires it to select candidates for town office by caucus, not by vote of the Town Committee.
Despite what appears to be a clear violation, the SEEC dismissed Mr. Morey's Complaint, not on the merits but because it didn't have jurisdiction over the Complaint. The SEEC wrote:
... General Statutes § 9-387 sets forth that the state rules of each party shall prescribe the manner in which any dispute as to the endorsement by such party of a candidate for municipal office shall be resolved. The Commission does not have jurisdiction to enforce or interpret party rules.
The SEEC did, however, put the lie to the reported assertions by Mr. Alexander and Mr. Grossman that the position of State Rep isn't a "municipal office." It wrote, "State Representative in the 67th House District in the Connecticut General Assembly is considered to be a 'municipal office,' as that term is defined in General Statutes § 9-372(7)1, as it is entirely contained within a single municipality."
So where does this go from here? There are two entities that have the ability to knock Mr. Alexander off the ballot, Democratic State Central and the Superior Court. As a practical matter, can you imagine that Democratic State Central would do anything? Highly unlikely. Can Mr. Morey go to Superior Court for relief? Probably not because he'd likely be unable to prove that he has standing to bring the action. It's also an expensive proposition.
Good New Milford Democrats ought to be outraged about this and maybe one of them will step up and do what's right. It's odd that Democratic Legal Advisor Paul Garlasco hasn't spoken up. He's an honorable guy and knows that this is wrong. It surprises me that he's put party politics above the law.
New Milford Democrats should demand that Alexander withdraw his name from the Ballot and they should forthwith remove Chairman Grossman from their Committee for what one commenter properly calls his "Machiavellian" schemes.