SEEC fines state firefighter union over missing PAC money

The Connecticut State Elections and Enforcement Commission handed down a small fine to the Connecticut Uniformed Professional Firefighters Association over $28,233 that was unaccounted for in the union’s political action committee.

The SEEC determined the UPFFA PAC “failed to report the expenditures of the political committee as required” by Connecticut statute, but noted an accounting firm “was able to reconcile the political committee’s records to confirm that no money was missing.”

Robert Anthony, treasurer of the UPFFA PAC, indicated he will fix the PAC reports to reflect the expenditures. The PAC was fined $200, although SEEC can impose a maximum $2,000 fine per offense.

The $28,233 went unaccounted for between July and October of 2018, during the political campaign season for the 2018 elections. 

The complaint was brought by Elisabeth Kines, former executive vice president of Yankee Institute, after court documents showed UPPFA and Anthony could not account for the funds spent by the PAC.

During deposition in a court case between the New Haven Fire Fighters Local 825, the unaccounted-for funds were pointed out to both Anthony and UPFFA President Peter Carozza.

Carozza testified that it was a “mistake,” and Anthony said he “just shrugged it off,” and never fixed the PAC’s filings with the SEEC.

The court case between Local 825 and UPFFA stemmed from Local 825’s vote to leave the statewide fire fighters union. UPFFA refused and began to use debt collectors to try to collect dues from New Haven fire fighters.

Local 825 filed a lawsuit, alleging their dues money allocated for legislative representation had been misspent on travel for Carozza and his family. 

Court transcripts also showed the UPFFA had borrowed from its Emergency Relief Fund, a non-profit organization that gives financial assistance to fire fighters who are facing difficulties. The Emergency Relief Fund is largely supported by a motorcycle ride in honor of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

Local 825 won the right to disaffiliate from the UPFFA, although UPFFA said Local 825 owed back dues because the local had not submitted their claim to disaffiliate in the correct time period. 

Local 825 filed a second claim to recoup the dues money they claimed was improperly spent. Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher allowed the that second lawsuit to move forward.

Moukawsher based his decision on “suspicious ‘mistakes’ with PAC fund balances, and the admission of a plainly improper loan the union took (and repaid) from its charitable affiliate,” according to the ruling.

Local 825 and the UPFFA eventually settled the case, allowing Local 825 to disaffiliate without paying any back dues.

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