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Former Connecticut governor candidate to pay $90,000 penalty

March 17, 2021 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former Republican candidate for governor has agreed to pay a $90,000 civil penalty to settle an elections complaint, marking the largest amount collected from an individual Connecticut candidate.

The state’s Elections Enforcement Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a consent agreement reached with Steve Obsitnik, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican Party endorsement for governor in 2018.

The panel determined Obsitnik, a Westport tech entrepreneur, accepted $1.3 million in public campaign financing while also benefitting from more than $88,000 in spending by a political action committee called FixCT Inc. which supported his candidacy. The commission’s more than two-year investigation focused on whether there was illegal coordination between the candidate and the PAC.

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According to the agreement, the commission concluded that expenditures made by FixCT to benefit Obsitnik’s candidacy were made with the “consent, coordination and/or consultation” of Obsitnik. The commission also said Obsitnik was not registered as a candidate or as an exploratory committee when he was first promoting his candidacy through a not-for-profit group in 2016.

Obsitnik, who has 10 days to pay the $90,000, admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement he signed on Tuesday. The document notes that Obsitnik’s agreement to pay the penalty is not an admission of liability “but rather the settlement of a contested matter.”

The commission also reached a consent agreement with state Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, who volunteered on Obsitnik’s campaign before becoming a volunteer advisor to FixCT. Perrillo, who paid a $10,000 settlement, also admitted no wrongdoing.

The largest settlement the commission has ever reached was in 2016 with the Connecticut Democratic Party, which agreed to pay $325,000 to end a dispute over whether it illegally spent money from a federal account on political mailers to benefit former Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 2014 reelection campaign.