• Greenwich RTC Primaries Mired In Controversy After Allegations Of Malfeasance, Invalid Signatures

    February 26, 2024
    Election day voting.

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    The upcoming Greenwich Republican Town Committee (RTC) primaries on March 5th are generating quite a lot of press, and not necessarily for good reasons.

    The latest development comes after Republican Registrar Fred DeCaro released copies of the petition pages that were circulated to force the primaries.

    Three RTC members allege that the petitions for Districts 2 and District 8 contain signatures which are invalid. They are calling for the D2 and D8 primaries to be cancelled, for the petition circulators to be reprimanded, and for a full SEEC investigation of the matter.

    The complainants cite two Connecticut statutes for the basis of the complaint:

    • Gen Stat § 9-406a states that: "Any person who fraudulently signs, attests or files a false certificate under section 9-388, 9-391, 9-400 or 9-406 shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor."
    • Gen Stat § 9-410 (b) states that (emphasis added): "Any person who signs a name other than the person's own to a primary petition filed under the provisions of this section or who signs a name other than the person's own as circulator of such a petition shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year or both."

    The complaint alleges that the D2 and D8 petitions included signatures made "by the same hand, in identical writing, using the same pen, and they are distinct from other signatures, making it self-evident that they were signed by a single person."

    Specifically, the complaint alleges that the same person signed for Jennifer and Cathi Deluca on the D2 petition circulated by Ms. Kelly.

    Screenshot of Petition Page, Source: Greenwich Registrar

    It further alleges that the same person signed for Caroline Graves, Madeline Graves, and Charlie Graves on the D8 petition circulated by Mr. Cappiali, and that the same person signed for Barbara Oxer and George Oxer on the D8 petition circulated by Mr. Dadakis.

    Screenshots of Petition Pages, Source: Greenwich Registrar

    If true, this would appear to be a violation of § 9-410 (b) and §. 9-406a since each person must sign their own name.

    Additionally, the complainants allege that improper signature collectors circulated petitions in D2 and D8 according to § 9-410 (c):

    "No candidate for the nomination of a party for a municipal office or the position of town committee member shall circulate any petition for another candidate or another group of candidates contained in one primary petition for the nomination of such party for the same office or position, and any petition page circulated in violation of this provision shall be rejected by the registrar. … Any individual proposed as a candidate in any primary petition may serve as a circulator of the pages of such petition, provided such individual's service as circulator does not violate any provision of this section."

    Therefore, as candidates for D8 Town Committee Member, the complainants argue that Janet Freiheit, Michael Erensen, and Caren Vizzo St. Philip were not permitted to circulate a petition with names of other candidates, "thus, a total of 4 signature pages with 48 signatures (8+20+14+6) should be rejected in D8 by the Registrar."

    Similarly, as a candidate for the position of D2 Town Committee Member, the complainants argue that Jill Kelly was not permitted to circulate a petition for other candidates, so the complaint says "a total of 2 signature pages with 30 signatures (11+19) should be rejected in D2 by the Registrar."

    For these reasons, the complainants are requesting that the RTC Primaries for Greenwich Districts 2 and 8 be cancelled, and that the Caucus-nominated candidates in those districts be declared Town Committee Members in accordance with CT Gen Statute § 9-417(a).

    But wait, there's more!

    The complaint additionally highlights an allegedly invalid candidate under § 9-410 (a) which states that, "Each such sheet shall indicate the candidate or candidates supported … "

    The D8 petition pages filed by Caren Vizzo St. Philip, Carol Zarrili, Edward Dadakis, Stephanie Cowie, Paul Cappiali, Janet Freiheit, and Kelley Deluca all contain the name "Michael Evensen" as a candidate.

    Screenshot of Names of Candidates on D8 petition

    There is no registered elector in Greenwich by that name, but there is a Candidate by the name Michael Erensen who also filed a petition page as a collector.

    Screenshot of Circulator's Name on petition circulated by Michael Erensen.

    Mr. Erensen made sure to correct his name on the page he circulated, but the mistake was not corrected on the other circulator's petitions, so the complainants argue that all of the pages with "Evensen" should be declared invalid.

    Screenshot of corrected petition page circulated by Michael Erensen.

    There's also an allegation of improperly registered electors...

    § 9-404c indicates that signers must be enrolled as of the "last completed enrollment list". Further, Ct Gen Statute § 9-56(3) clearly states that electors must be registered by 5pm on the prior day.

    The complainants argue that the "last completed enrollment" would be the one "certified and last completed by the registrars of voters prior to the date the first primary petition was issued" (§9-406). So in order to be eligible to sign the petition, the complainants argue that you must have been registered as Republican with full party privileges as of January 16th by 5pm.

    Five petition signers in D8 (including two candidates in the D8 primary) switched party affiliation after the January 16th, 5pm deadline:

    Date Party Privileges Earned

    Additionally, another six petition signers were Unaffiliated as of election day 2023, and might be ineligible to sign if they did not switch prior to January 16th, and one D8 petition signer was a registered democrat in November, and should have been ineligible to sign as a Republican for three months in accordance with § 9-59.

    The complaint has been escalated directly to Connecticut Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, who has been asked to adjudicate the complaint, void the petitions, and immediately stop the corresponding primaries in Districts 2 and 8.

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