GOP files complaint against Hess campaign

NAUGATUCK — The chairman of the state Republican Party has filed an elections enforcement complaint against Naugatuck mayoral candidate N. Warren “Pete” Hess, a Democrat.

The complaint, filed Monday with the state Elections Enforcement Commission, states Hess “violated the spirit and letter of several campaign and election laws when he used his business ‘Law Offices of N. Warren Hess’ to sponsor bingo at the Naugatuck Senior Center less than two weeks before the November municipal election.”

In a news release Tuesday, state GOP Chairman J.R. Romano stated Hess used his law firm as a slush fund for his campaign for mayor.

“First using the Law Office of N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess to pay $400 to sponsor a table at the local Chamber of Commerce debate on Oct. 12 and then again to sponsor bingo at the Naugatuck Senior Center, for the first time ever, conveniently scheduled for just 10 days before the municipal election,” Romano stated.

The complaint also said that Hess’ business paid for refreshments, such as cupcakes, and gave out $185 in gift cards to seniors, which Romano called a “disgusting attempt to influence the voting behavior of those in attendance.”

In wording similar to language his opponent, Republican Tamath Rossi, has used in her campaign, the release further stated that Hess is “out of touch with his community” and states his “plan for Naugatuck is full of empty promises that are only supported by the real estate developers who’ve given thousands of dollars to his campaign.”

As of the last filing two weeks ago, Hess had raised $43,780 and had $21,148 on hand. Rossi had raised $8,410 and had $1,838 on hand.

On Monday, Rossi also called Hess’ campaign tactics into question.

“It’s up to the state to investigate these issues with Mr. Hess’ campaign, but it certainly does raise some serious concerns,” she said. “Mr. Hess has made his work as an attorney a big part of why he should be elected mayor, and it’s troubling to see that he may have some issues following the laws.”

The Hess campaign vehemently denied Hess did anything wrong.

“This complaint is nothing more than a frivolous attempt to distract voters from the real issues,” said James Goggin, Hess campaign chairman. “The Hess campaign has reported and accurately detailed all aspects of its finances. It’s time to move Naugatuck forward with Hess’ plan for smart growth.”

The Hess campaign also appeared to be having a little fun with the complaint. As an ode to the fact that part of the complaint deals with Hess giving out cupcakes, the campaign is inviting everyone in the community to an open house Wednesday at the former Salem Theater on Church Street for cupcakes from Nora’s Cupcake Truck of Milford.