SEEC investigating complaint on Beacon Falls DTC finance forms

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Elio Gugliotti, Editor

BEACON FALLS — The State Elections Enforcement Commission has authorized an investigation into a complaint filed by a Beacon Falls resident that raises concerns with reporting on campaign finance forms from the 2019 election filed by the Beacon Falls Democratic Town Committee.

Resident Shawn Styfco filed the complaint in January. The matters raised in the complaint include that expenditures for two political ads published through the Citizen’s News as well as the cost of printing and distributing a program book weren’t reported in finance forms. The complaint also questions why the forms didn’t list rent or an in-kind donation for the committee’s headquarter, and didn’t describe payment for a mailing and a separate $100 paid to a man.

Joshua Foley, a spokesman for the SEEC, said the commission voted to investigate the complaint at its Feb. 19 meeting. He said the commission’s decision to investigate the complaint is not a judgement on its merit. He said the commission has a year to investigate and resolve complaints.

Lawrence Hutvagner is the treasurer for the Beacon Falls Democratic Town Committee and listed as a respondent in the complaint. After learning of the complaint, Hutvagner sent a letter to the commission in response after consulting with town committee members.

Hutvagner said he answered the questions to the best of his ability, adding that he wasn’t aware last week that an investigation had been authorized.

Committee members paid for the ads in the Citizen’s News and the cost of the mailing with a personal credit card and were reimbursed by the committee with checks, which were listed on the forms, Hutvagner said.

The $100 payment was paid to a man who worked as a checker at the polls on Election Day, Hutvagner said. The town committee didn’t spend any money on the program books, he said, and no rent was paid to Dibra, LLC, the company that owns the building at 93 South Main St. where the committee had its headquarters.

The complaint also raised an issue with the reporting of two $500 donations from James Galligan, who works for the firm Nafis & Young and was the town’s engineer for several years until this year. The forms ask donors who give more than $400 if they have or are associated with a business that has a contract with the town valued at more than $5,000. In this case, the forms reported no.

The town hired Nafis & Young on an at-will basis, not on a contract, but paid the firm more than $5,000 last year.