Interviews & Articles]
asked to scrutinize bank newsletter's piece about Tallarita
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 &
Thibault, editor of the "Cool Justice" Web log, wrote to the
elections panel this week to refer a two-page bank newsletter mailed out
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
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
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.