State Senator-turned-felon-turned-state Senate candidate Ernest Newton raised enough small donations to qualify for participation in Connecticut’s public campaign financing program.
As a result Newton will receive $80,550 to compete in a primary for his former seat, currently occupied by Sen. Ed Gomes, D-Bridgeport. Gomes also qualfied for the public cash, as did a third contender – state Rep. Andres Ayala.
The winner of the August primary is automatically eligible for an additional $91,000 for the general election.
But because of the criminal record Newton earned for abusing his office, when the Elections Enforcement Commission met Tuesday to approve grants for a total of 17 candidates, Newton’s was the only vote that was not unanimous.
Commission Chairman Stephen Cashman – a Republican appointee – cast the highly irregular “no” vote and issued the following statement:
“I do not believe that the legislature would have contemplated such a situation to put us in this position of approving taxpayer money for someone with Mr. Newton’s criminal record that involves a direct violation of the public trust, and for that reason it is my message to the legislature that this ought to be corrected. I am going to vote against this application.”
We wrote about this matter not long after Newton was endorsed by Bridgeport Democrats to run for his former Senate seat. Here’s that story, entitled, “Despite conviction, Newton can get public money.”