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State asked to scrutinize bank newsletter's piece about Tallarita
By Keith Phaneuf
Journal Inquirer
November 3, 2006

ENFIELD -- Did a state lawmaker receive a campaign boost thanks to a recent newsletter from a local bank?

A political blogger and former Freedom of Information Commission member has asked state election officials to review the correspondence, but stopped short of filing a complaint against Enfield Federal Savings & Loan.

Andrew Thibault, editor of the "Cool Justice" Web log, wrote to the elections panel this week to refer a two-page bank newsletter mailed out last month.

Thibault specifically cited the newsletter's lead article in the newsletter, under the headline: "The Bank Welcomes Kathy Tallarita as Business Development Representative."

Most of the article explains the bank's hiring of Tallarita on July 26. It does mention that she has served eight years in the General Assembly, adding "She will again be on the ballot for state rep. this November."

Tallarita is a Democrat, but her political affiliation is not mentioned in the letter. She represents the 58th House District, which consists of the western half of Enfield.

Thibault alleges no violation in his letter. State law prohibits businesses from making expenditures specifically to assist a candidate. Yet case law generally has interpreted that to mean direct appeals to vote for or support a candidate, which were not made in this letter.

David J. O'Connor, Enfield Federal's president and CEO, said the institution mails out a quarterly newsletter to about 1,200 customers, in which it routinely discusses new hiring's and other bank news.

"It wasn't triggered by anything else," he said.

Other articles in the latest newsletter dealt with an American Cancer Society fundraiser, a memorial fund for local military personnel, and new security features for banking online.

Jeffrey Garfield, executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said his policy is to forward such referrals to the full commission, which then would decide whether it has enough merit to investigate.

The panel's next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15.

Neither Tallarita nor her Republican opponent in the 58th District race, Susan Lavelli-Hozempa, could be reached for comment today.

Link: http://cooljustice.blogspot.com/2006/11/ji-story-on-enfield-savings-tallarita.html

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