by Jennifer Swift
Oct 15, 2013
04:03 PM
Connecticut Politics

Following Courant Story, Merrill Halts Newsletter, Calls for Audit

Secretary of State Denise Merrill has halted a newsletter sent to more than 5,000 individuals, an overwhelming majority of which are Democrats, after a Hartford Courant article exposed the partisan nature of the contact list, and questioned how it was created.

The article was published Friday.  In a news conference Tuesday, Merrill announced she would no longer send the newsletter and called on the Auditors of Public Accounts to investigate the issue to determine if there was any wrongdoing.

The creation of a database of contacts to send the newsletter to was a focus of the Courant report and the ensuing backlash. 

Merrill said in a statement Tuesday that the database had been created using a host of sources of contact information. In addition to email, the newsletter was also distributed on social media sites, she said.

“If you look at the content of these e-newsletters, they are not political, this is informational.  And as an elected official you bet I am going to tell people how I am doing the job they elected me to do.  The real problem here is how we designed this project, and the impression it has created,” she said. “But I can see now that the impression this has caused is negative, and for that I am deeply sorry.  Although I didn’t personally build the list, the buck stops here.  If blame is to be assigned, I’ll take.  And while I don’t think there is anything either legally or ethically wrong with sending out communications in this way, I need to assure the public that this is the case.  This is why I have asked the auditors to take a look at these issues.  And I pledge to cooperate fully with any information they seek from me or my staff.”

Merrill succeeded Susan Bysiewicz, who came under intense criticism for using state resources to create a campaign database.

Jerry Labriola, the chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, has criticized Merrill for the newsletter since the story broke. In a letter following Merrill’s news conference Tuesday, Labriola filed a complaint with the Auditors of Public Accounts and also urged them to investigate the issue.

“The basis for this complaint is recent published reports in the Hartford Courant, which clearly indicate that the Office of the Secretary of the State used state resources and time to compile and maintain a list of individuals to be used for partisan political purposes.”

 

 

Following Courant Story, Merrill Halts Newsletter, Calls for Audit

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