Former State Senator Ernie Newton is scheduled to be back in court Thursday (today) to officially enter a not guilty plea following a criminal complaint from state investigators accusing him of falsifying $500 in campaign contributions to qualify for roughly $80,000 in public campaign funds for his 2012 State Senate race. Darnell Crosland, Newton’s attorney, had been busy with a murder trial that prevented him from appearing with Newton at a January 17 hearing in Hartford.
According to the state’s warrant, Newton was $500 short of the $15,000 he needed to raise in private contributions to qualify for the Citizens Election Program grant as part of his quest to regain the State Senate seat he was forced to relinquish following corruption charges in 2005. Newton had five campaign workers sign cards stating they had contributed to the campaign when in fact they had not, the warrant states. Newton finished second in a three-way primary won by Andres Ayala.
Newton’s lawyer says the state historically has handled these kinds of cases as civil matters, not criminal actions. He says the state’s allegations “can’t be farther from the truth. He didn’t steal any money, he applied for money, they approved it and he ran a legitimate campaign.”
Newton, a media magnet, hasn’t said much publicly about the case other than he looks forward to his day in court.