The State Elections Enforcement Commission has dismissed a 2014 complaint against school board member Maria Pereira alleging that during the March 4, 2014 Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee Primary she “impermissibly utilized and/or failed to attribute flyers that she passed out at the Thomas Hooker School polling place” and campaigned within 75 feet of the precinct against state law. The issue stems from a falling-out Pereira had with Andy Fardy, husband of a slate mate, who criticized her on OIB.
Pereira, who is challenging incumbent State Rep. Charlie Stallworth in an August Democratic primary, was then chair of the Bridgeport Working Families Party, but a registered Democrat. She handed out cut cards to her voter contacts in front of Hooker School precinct crossing out the names of town committee candidates she had supported including Pat Fardy and Ann Barney in the Upper East Side 138th District. Pereira was upset about critical comments Pat’s husband Andy wrote about her on OIB. The political divorce apparently cost Fardy and Barney at the polls. Since that time Pereira and the Fardys have had an on-and-off give-and-take in the OIB comments section.
Pereira hosted her first fundraiser Thursday night and says she’s well on her way to qualifying for Connecticut’s Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races.
Excerpt from SEEC decision:
“The complainant alleges that Respondent Maria Pereira appropriated some of the flyers, drew X marks across the faces and ballot lines of the candidates Ann Barney, Pat Fardy (the Complainant), and Noel Sepulveda, cut off the proper attribution, and passed these altered flyers out at the Thomas Hooker School polling place.
“The Complainant, who asserts that the Respondent’s actions were ‘offensive,’ alleges further that the Respondent’s action were not that of a private citizen, but that of the Chair of the Bridgeport Working Families Party and that somehow this behavior was impermissible at law.
“As an initial matter, the Commission finds that the Respondent’s use of the Row C slate’s mailers was not violative per se. There is no allegation or evidence submitted that these mailers were taken impermissibly, only that the mailers were utilized to advocate for or against certain candidates on the slate.
“The only issue to decide here is whether the Respondent was required to include an attribution under General Statutes 9-621 on the mailers and, if so, whether she failed to do so ….
“Indeed, the investigation revealed that the Respondent and the Complainant had originally been allied and that the Respondent had been involved in recruiting the Complaintant’s slate of challenge candidates in the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee Primary and creating the mailers at issue in this case.
“However, while the reports varied on the reasons, at some point after the mailers had been designed and printed, the personal relationships soured between the Respondent and the Complainant, the Complainant’s husband Andy Fardy, as well as candidates Ann Barney and Noel Sepulveda. The investigation here revealed evidence that the Respondent decided to take her personal frustrations out on the Fardys, Ms. Barney, and Mr. Sepulveda by altering and distributing some mailers in the manner alleged …
“Here, the evidence supports a finding that this was an intra-party squabble that spilled out into the Respondent taking her personal frustrations out on a few mailers on behalf of no one person or group other than herself … As such Count One should be dismissed.
The commission also dismissed the allegation that Pereira campaigned within 75 feet of the polling place.