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  • FOIA Request Shows Greenwich Election Officials Did No Due Diligence Into Political Agenda Of Board Before Accepting Zuckerbucks (CCTL Grant)

    April 2, 2023

    Appears To Also Show Greenwich Free Press Withheld This Information From RTM Member Phil Dodson OpEd Published Before Recent Vote

    Fred DeCaro

    A recent FOIA request shows that Greenwich election officials did no independent research into the political agenda of senior officials of heavily partisan Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) before approving a large monetary grant from the organization tied to Mark Zuckerberg for use in Greenwich elections.

    The information obtained also shows Greenwich Free Press withheld the information from the public. The last sentence from Dodson's oped shown below was removed at publishing.

    At an RTM committee meeting our Registrar Fred DeCaro, was asked
    if they did any due diligence checking into background or persons involved with grant
    provider, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). DeCaro responded they had not
    done any, and he had no obligation or responsibility to do so. DeCaro’s answer about not
    conducting any due diligence should be cause for concern.

    Democracy dies in darkness.

    Partial results from the FOIA can be seen below. Personal identifying information has been removed.


    From: Leslie Yager
    Sent: Monday, January 16, 2023 1:57 PM
    To: DeCaro, Fred
    Cc: Hegarty, Mary
    Subject: Re: Opinion/editorial

    [EXTERNAL]

    That's what I thought. I was just double checking. The two of you are so professional, that alone was good enough for me. I think this grant will be approved tomorrow.


    Sincerely,

    Leslie Yager

    Editor

    Greenwich Free Press
    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce R. Michael Dunne Quality of Life Award Recipient, 2017
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    On Mon, Jan 16, 2023 at 1:16 PM DeCaro, Fred wrote:

    All of our emails are public record. I took that from a previous question asked by an RTM member. So the response is not new or protected in any way.

    Fred

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Jan 16, 2023, at 12:43 PM, Leslie Yager wrote:

    

    [EXTERNAL]

    Dozens of emails on the 230-email have been forwarded to me this weekend.

    May quote any or all of this from you?

    My counterpart Mary Hegarty and I belong to numerous organizations which are non-partisan, and non-profit, including the Registrars of Voters Association of CT (ROVAC), and the National Association of Election Officials. In both of these organizations I have found individual members across the political spectrum. In working with them, however, to produce training materials or advance legislation, I have found that the intent is always to be balanced and even-handed.

    Likewise, as part of attending conferences, and reading the literature in the field, I have encountered CTCL and similar partner organizations many times. I get their newsletter. I've signed up for their free webinars. At conferences, for instance, one of the hour-long seminars on the schedule might have a speaker from the grantor or partners such as The Elections Group, or from US Digital Response. They are frequent guests and presenters. I have never seen any overt or even implicit partisanship from the people encountered.

    Here is an upcoming conference in late February from the most prominent organization on the field, the National Association of Election Officials, headquartered in Katy, TX. You will see CTCL and some of the partner organizations are all on the agenda offering workshops: https://www.electioncenter.org/national-association-of-election-officials/events-calendar/2023/ECSW-Pasadena-2023-Draft-Agenda.pdf

    Speaking specifically of the grantor, CTCL, we had a few people come to our office from the grantor and also from The Elections Group in September to discuss what was involved in working together. In addition to myself and my counterpart, we had our assistants, and other Town employees and officials also participate in different parts of the discussions. I felt comfortable with the conduct and attitude of everyone involved. In some cases we discussed ways in which technology can assist with election administration. In some cases we discussed ways in which CT needs to modernize pieces of its process. In some cases we discussed what we like about CT's process, and about Greenwich-specific things like how we send out surveys to our poll workers after each election asking for suggestions. None of the conduct I saw went beyond "shop talk" (almost six straight hours of it), and discussing how different states handle different parts of election administration.


    Sincerely,

    Leslie Yager

    Editor

    Greenwich Free Press
    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce R. Michael Dunne Quality of Life Award Recipient, 2017
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    On Mon, Jan 16, 2023 at 12:33 PM DeCaro, Fred wrote:

    

    Mary and I do not have access to the RTM 230 emails, so we do not see what is being sent/received. A handful of emails have been forwarded to us, but I don't have any idea of the overall volume or content.

    Fred


    From: Leslie Yager
    Sent: Monday, January 16, 2023 12:09 PM
    To: DeCaro, Fred
    Cc: Hegarty, Mary
    Subject: Re: Opinion/editorial

    [EXTERNAL]

    Thank you, Fred. I am going to either reject Mr. Dodson's letter or ask for an edit.

    Will you and Mary be speaking tomorrow night?

    I'm writing a piece today about the grant controversy and the inappropriate use of the all-230 RTM email and some of the whistleblower emails via that address.

    Is there any part of your thoughtful answer above that you'd like me to include in my write up.


    Sincerely,

    Leslie Yager

    Editor

    Greenwich Free Press
    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce R. Michael Dunne Quality of Life Award Recipient, 2017
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    Twitter @GWCHFreePress

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    On Mon, Jan 16, 2023 at 11:52 AM DeCaro, Fred wrote:

    I believe the specific question asked was if I attempted to discern the political leanings of the grantor’s directors and leadership. To which Mary and I responded we we did not. Our experience is with the boots on the ground who interact with election officials, not the board of directors.

    My counterpart Mary Hegarty and I belong to numerous organizations which are non-partisan, and non-profit, including the Registrars of Voters Association of CT (ROVAC), and the National Association of Election Officials. In both of these organizations I have found individual members across the political spectrum. In working with them, however, to produce training materials or advance legislation, I have found that the intent is always to be balanced and even-handed.

    Likewise, as part of attending conferences, and reading the literature in the field, I have encountered CTCL and similar partner organizations many times. I get their newsletter. I've signed up for their free webinars. At conferences, for instance, one of the hour-long seminars on the schedule might have a speaker from the grantor or partners such as The Elections Group, or from US Digital Response. They are frequent guests and presenters. I have never seen any overt or even implicit partisanship from the people encountered.

    Here is an upcoming conference in late February from the most prominent organization on the field, the National Association of Election Officials, headquartered in Katy, TX. You will see CTCL and some of the partner organizations are all on the agenda offering workshops: https://www.electioncenter.org/national-association-of-election-officials/events-calendar/2023/ECSW-Pasadena-2023-Draft-Agenda.pdf

    Speaking specifically of the grantor, CTCL, we had a few people come to our office from the grantor and also from The Elections Group in September to discuss what was involved in working together. In addition to myself and my counterpart, we had our assistants, and other Town employees and officials also participate in different parts of the discussions. I felt comfortable with the conduct and attitude of everyone involved. In some cases we discussed ways in which technology can assist with election administration. In some cases we discussed ways in which CT needs to modernize pieces of its process. In some cases we discussed what we like about CT's process, and about Greenwich-specific things like how we send out surveys to our poll workers after each election asking for suggestions. None of the conduct I saw went beyond "shop talk" (almost six straight hours of it), and discussing how different states handle different parts of election administration.

    My comments above are based upon personal observations and interactions.

    Fred

    On Jan 16, 2023, at 11:03 AM, Fred DeCaro III wrote:

    

    [EXTERNAL]

    ---------- Forwarded message ---------
    From: Leslie Yager 
    Date: Mon, Jan 16, 2023 at 10:39 AM
    Subject: Fwd: Opinion/editorial
    To: Fred DeCaro III

    Fred, I want to check the accuracy of Mr. Dodson's claim that you didn't research CTCL.

    That doesn't sound right to me.

    At an RTM committee meeting our Registrar Fred DeCaro, was asked
    if they did any due diligence checking into background or persons involved with grant
    provider, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). DeCaro responded they had not
    done any, and he had no obligation or responsibility to do so. DeCaro’s answer about not
    conducting any due diligence should be cause for concern.


    Sincerely,

    Leslie Yager

    Editor

    Greenwich Free Press
    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce R. Michael Dunne Quality of Life Award Recipient, 2017
    Like us on Facebook

    Twitter @GWCHFreePress

    Ask us about advertising on our home page and newsletter.

    Subscribe to the daily newsletter.

    ---------- Forwarded message ---------
    From: philipdodson
    Date: Mon, Jan 16, 2023 at 10:19 AM
    Subject: Opinion/editorial
    To: Leslie Yager

    To: GreenwichFreePress

    The attached file has an opinion/editorial

    piece that I wrote for publication.

    Philip Dodson RTM D-8 member

    --

    Fred DeCaro III

    CAUTION: This email originated from outside the Town email system. Do not click links or open attachments unless you have verified the sender and know the content is safe.

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