The widening probe into Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s 2009 campaign finances may soon involve a state agency.
The New Haven Democracy Fund board voted at its Monday meeting to file a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, asking the state to investigate connections DeStefano’s 2009 reelection campaign may have had with the Elm & Oak political action committee, according to the unofficial minutes of the board’s meeting.
The Democracy Fund was created nearly three years ago to provide public funding for candidates who qualify and agree to abide by the Fund’s rules. So far, the only candidate who has received money from the Fund is DeStefano.
The Fund is looking into whether DeStefano’s campaign was inappropriately involved with the Elm & Oak PAC given that the PAC paid DeStefano’s 2009 campaign manager, Keya Jayaram, and possibly paid for campaign expenses.
Jayaram acknowledged the board’s right to file a complaint with the SEEC but said that she does not think the state will find any “evidence of wrongdoing.”
Democracy Fund Administrator Robert Wechsler said the board decided to go to the state because the state has jurisdiction over both the political action committee and the campaign committee, whereas the board only has jurisdiction over the campaign committee. The Elm & Oak PAC has refused to provide information to the Democracy Fund board.
“The important thing really for the board was they wanted a full investigation and they couldn’t do it,” Wechsler said.
At the meeting, according to the minutes, the attorney for the 2009 DeStefano campaign, Elia Alexiades, said the Democracy Fund did not have the authority to file the complaint given their “rules, bylaws and regulations.” But, the Democracy Fund voted unanimously to send the complaint.
Ben Shaffer ’09, DeStefano’s deputy campaign manager, said he does not think there were any violations committed in DeStefano’s relationship with the political action committee.
“If there is something improper it should be corrected,” Shaffer said. “I think if the state opens an investigation, we’ll finally get to the bottom of this.”
Wechsler said the state’s main form of penalties is fines.