When A Taxpayer-Paid Mailer Becomes A Promotional Campaign Boost

Moore’s taxpayer-financed mailer

In the old days they were called franking privileges: legislators’ taxpayer-paid mailers to communicate with constituents. Essentially they become a surrogate boost to an incumbent’s reelection campaign. For Connecticut legislative races, there’s a 100-day cutoff before the November general election. But what about a summer primary?

Foul, says City Councilman Marcus Brown. Fair, asserts State Senator Marilyn Moore. Party-endorsed Brown and three-term incumbent Moore will square off in an August 11 Democratic primary.

Marcus Brown

The Hartford Courant’s John Lender reports the taxpayer tab for incumbents communicating with constituents, even while out of session during Covid, is almost $1 million taxpayer dollars.

But not everyone is impressed by the supposed fairness created by the mailing deadline–including Bridgeport City Councilman Marcus Brown, who is facing Moore, the incumbent senator, in an Aug. 11 primary

Brown said in a phone interview Thursday that Moore’s mailers have been landing in local mailboxes too close to the scheduled primary, now less than two weeks off.

He said he’s seen Moore’s mailings, which he called “her quote, unquote, ‘constituent update mailer,'” and he added: “Oh, it’s a campaign brochure, all right”–in effect, anyway. Brown said that in recent months, Moore also had recorded robocalls about the coronavirus crisis that played her voice on the phones of citizens in the district. They were paid for by the Senate Democratic Caucus as a government expense.

Brown said, “It’s crazy that I have to abide by a certain set of rules”–including living within a $107,000 candidate’s budget under the state’s public-financing campaign grant program–while Moore not only gets the same $107,000 state campaign grant, but also enjoys the state-funded benefits of the district-wide mass mailing and the robocalls.

Asked Thursday about Brown’s criticism, Moore said in a phone interview that “I have been in his place before,” in 2014, when she defeated then-Sen. Anthony Musto in a Democratic primary and went on to win the November election. “I appreciated, regardless of who sent [legislative mailings from the incumbent] that my legislator was communicating with me throughout the year,” she said.

Full story here.

Statement from Brown:

Marcus Brown, candidate for State Senate in the 22nd District, is calling for further restrictions on the use of taxpayer-funded mailings in the 90 days leading up to any election in light of a new Hartford Courant article. The piece, written by John Lender, details the inappropriate use of taxpayer funds by Senator Marilyn Moore and other state legislators to send campaign materials to constituents. Lender reports that even though the Senate passed just one bill in this year’s session–the state bonding package–Moore and other legislators spent more than $900,000 on district-wide mailers.

“Legislative mailers like this may meet the letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit of the law,” said Brown. “It’s shameful that Moore is spending scarce taxpayer dollars for re-election while our schools, our communities, and our neighbors suffer. Further restricting the inappropriate use of taxpayer-funded mailers by incumbents weeks before an election will be among my first proposals as a member of the State Senate. To protect taxpayers and level the playing field for candidates, I propose a ban on ALL government-funded mailers 90 days prior to a primary or general election.”



  1. The House Democrats office sends Covid 19 updates every day via e-mail. They customize them so they appear to come from individual House Members, including those involved in a primary, Does this July cut-off apply to them as well?

  2. It’s less than one hundred days until election Day.. A primary battle is unlike an election and Marcus Brown should’ve known that. A great legal question remains unanswered.
    It’s good to be queen and Marilyn Moore doesn’t want to surrender her crown!
    She enjoys incumbent advantages and nothing more.
    It’s not too late to send a message.
    You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great.

  3. Senator was being “Perfectly Frank!”
    Frankly speaking, her first mailing was seriously flawed and shady in the heavily shadowed attribution of the piece. I’m sure it was an innocent mistake but should have been caught by the candidate. She needs a Woke Up call!

  4. Marcus Brown, put your grown man underwear on and quit crying like the little punk that your are! There are certain privileges that come with incumbency and unfortunately your will never know of those privileges. You’re starting to sound like that punk ass Dennis Bradley when you start crying looking for a little sympathy. Grow up kid if you want to play in the deep end of the pool.

    1. Don, as you well know that it’s against the law to buy a black man but they still can rent one and Marcus Brown has definitely been rented by Mario Testa and Joe Ganim. Don, there are also some black women who have been rented out by Mario and Joe and they know who they are just like we do.

  5. And further Moore, Marcus should have plenty left of the $9,000 left in his stipend as long as he didn’t spend it frivolously.
    Split between two years, he should be able to match Ms. Moore unless he doesn’t have anything to say.

  6. Lennie,
    Speaking of plenty to say, couldn’t you have come up with something better than this???
    If your mind is on low, give me a call and I can come up with meaningful thoughts to till you’re pages.

  7. Marcus Brown……………
    You don’t like the rules, don’t play the game. You can be sure that Brown would do the same thing if he was the incumbent.
    Senator Moore hasn’t been ignoring her constituents in Trumbull. We’ve had constant communication from her and her campaign.
    Here on my street, not one peep from Brown, no calls, no mailers, no interest in the voters. The Ganim/Testa machine may have some influence in Bridgeport, but no positive effect in Trumbull. You have to win in on your own merits…and Brown has no Merit Badges to display. Most Trumbull Democrats I have spoken to don’t even know he’s running, and certainly don’t know his name.

    Come back when you have something to offer, right now all Brown brings is the stink of Bridgeport political machine politics.

  8. Marcus
    What happened with the Columbus resolution?
    You had enough cosponsors to the resolution that is should have carried and yet when push came to shove you let them shove it up yours.
    Don’t know how to count votes or was it just let the council persons make a little noise and then just go away. The strategy from the get go.

  9. Biden will win the district 70% plus so it will be interesting to see how many people dont vote a straight line a. I think Brown will benefit heavy being next to biden.

  10. Received my first Brown mailer today.
    All it did was complain about Marilyn Moore.
    It kept mentioning her name and showing her picture.
    NOT one word about why I should vote for Brown……

    BTW, voters in Trumbull don;t care that Moore didn’t secure funding for Bridgeport pet projects that let the local machine give patronage jobs, etc.
    The one size fits Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe mailer doesn’t work.
    D22 has thre municipalities with far different wants and needs

  11. Thank you Marshall.
    Very insightful.
    Maybe Marcus Brown’s campaign got a little screwed up and sent you the mailer that they were supposed to send to…………
    Never mind.

    1. Brown’s campaign went cheap. I own a two family house. The mailer was addressed to the Marcus and xxxxx family.
      Absolutely clueless that there are multi family homes in Trumbull and tenants are entitled not to share mail with landlords.
      Brown knows nothing about nor does he care about Trumbull. He is just a puppet for the machine, upset that Senator Moore is independent


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