Darnell Crosland, the attorney representing Ernie Newton, told OIB this morning he’ll be filing a federal civil rights complaint against the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission including its ex-chairman Stephen Cashman for harassment and selective prosecution following state charges accusing Newton of falsifying $500 in campaign donations to receive roughly $80,000 in public funds for his 2012 State Senate primary campaign won by Andres Ayala.
Crosland says from the start the state selectively targeted Newton for prosecution after Cashman had cast a surprise vote against authorizing public funds for Newton while other commissioners voted in support. Nothing in state law, Crosland says, allowed Cashman to cast a no vote after EEC staff recommended approval. Crosland says Cashman’s action triggered a bias against Newton to nitpick all aspects of Newton’s campaign finance reports “down to the dollar” in an effort to qualify for the state’s Citizen Election Program of publicly financed races. Cashman had announced at the meeting authorizing public funds for Newton that he could not see how he could vote yes in light of Newton’s prior conviction on federal corruption charges.
Newton appeared in court today with his attorney to enter a not guilty plea. The judge in the case has set a March court date to establish a timetable for the state to turn over its evidence against Newton. Meanwhile, Crosland says he will be filing a motion to dismiss the case, claiming the state’s case is flawed and statutorily incorrect in how it leveled charges against Newton.
Crosland says he’ll be issuing a statement today about the state’s case and timetable for filing the civil rights violation.