Bridgeport · Students

Challenger slate’s close ties to teacher-union questioned

It appears the challenger slate might be in hot water with the state’s Election Enforcement Commission.

According to a press-release sent out Wednesday, the endorsed candidates’ campaign will be filing a complaint against the challenger slate (Andre Baker, Dave Hennessey, and Howard Gardner) for “inappropriate coordination” with the Connecticut Education Association’s PAC.

The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) represents unionized teachers, including members of its local surrogate organization, the Bridgeport Education Association.

The endorsed slate’s campaign manager, Emily Basham said, “Robert Traber, Vice President of the Bridgeport chapter of the CEA, led efforts to gather signatures and organize the campaign and he has been consistently reimbursed by the candidates’ slate committee for his campaign activity. The CEA headquarters were also used as a common meeting place for the campaign and a place where notaries were made available to verify petitions for the slate. The truth is that this campaign is being run and funded by one single special interest group based in Hartford and it appears that they have clearly violated the law.”

In response, the challenger slate’s campaign manager, Marilyn Moore, didn’t respond to the specific allegations but called them “baseless and desperate.” She said, “It points to a lack of knowledge and experience on behalf of her counterpart in their campaign.”

Whether or not these allegations are “baseless” has yet to be determined; however, there has certainly been a close connection between the BEA and the challenger slate.

So far, CEA has spent over $28,000 in independent expenditures on behalf of the challenger slate according to the State Election Enforcement website. Included in that number are several checks made out to Katherine Traber. (Robert Traber’s daughter perhaps?)

The connection doesn’t end there. On Monday, when the challenger slate decided to have their own forum after the local chapter of the League of Women Voters cancelled the original event, Traber stepped in as “moderator,” and even fielded questions at certain points during the forum.

According to Connecticut State Law, independent expenditures are permissible as long as candidates haven’t consulted or coordinated with the organization that made the expenditure.

I find it very hard to believe Traber was unaware of CEA’s independent expenditure activity while acting as the local chapter’s vice-president. How is it possible for him to have such close ties to the campaign, while at the same time not consulting or coordinating with them?


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