BY PAUL HUGHES
NAUGATUCK — A state investigation concluded the campaign treasurer for former probate judge Peter Mariano improperly accepted and reported purchases for an ad book for a campaign fundraising event last June.
Treasurer Carlos Santos agreed to pay a $200 fine under a consent agreement that the State Elections Enforcement Commission unanimously approved on June 7. He also agreed to follow campaign finance laws going forward.
The complaint arose out of a contentious campaign last year in Probate Court District 21 that serves Beacon Falls, Prospect, Middlebury, and Naugatuck. Probate courts oversee estates and trusts and handle a wide range of issues affecting children, the elderly and people with psychiatric disabilities.
Mariano and then-state Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, first vied for the Republican nomination, and then the two faced each other in the general election after Rebimbas won a GOP primary because Democratic delegates from the district’s four towns nominated Mariano.
Rebimbas filed a complaint against Mariano and Santos that alleged a number of violations of election laws, including failing to report the names and addresses of contributors and illegal fundraising involving ad book sales and a 50/50 raffle.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission dismissed the complaints against Mariano because only the campaign treasurer was liable.
The investigation determined the ad book purchases should have been counted as individual contributions and counted toward each contributor’s aggregate contribution limit. An exception for ad book purchases did not apply to judge of probate candidates.
Mariano filed amended campaign finance statements that listed the ad book purchases as individual contributions. There were also amendments to include the names and addresses of contributors that had been missing.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission found the Mariano campaign committee made a good faith effort to correct its errors once the complaint was filed. It further stated that it was not finding that Santos’ technical errors were willful or intentional violations.