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Saturday, July 20 News

After DTC rental questions, Republicans seeks answers on their new home

FAIRFIELD — State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-28, has turned his Sanford Street real estate office into his campaign headquarters.

And in light of a complaint his party filed against the Fairfield Democratic Town Committee over the rent that group paid for its Commerce Drive digs, Hwang said he is “seeking guidance” on how to report that use on his financing statements. For that reason, he said, no expenditure or in-kind contribution has been reported on his financing statements.

The William Raveis sign that used to hang on the building is gone, and the front covered with signs for all the local GOP candidates.

“We’re getting guidance on how we can properly describe the usage of the office before the Republican Town Committee took over from my campaign,” Hwang said. “We’re still working on that.”

He said he is working with the Citizen’s Election Program, which is funding his campaign, on the proper reporting.

Hwang said he’s rented the downtown office space since 1987.

“It was my business,” Hwang said, but said now, “It has been all time-consuming in the legislative body.”

He is still listed on the William Raveis website as an agent.

According to RTC Chairman James Millington, the town committee will take over the building as of Sept. 13, and will sublease it for $6,000, which will include utilities.

In April of this year, Millington filed a complaint with the State Election Enforcement Commission over the rental paid by the DTC to Penczer Assocaitions, LLC, for the space at 338 Commerce Drive. Peter Penczer, the principal, has been a longtime active member of the Democratic party.

Millington, who in addition to his job as a Shelton police officer is also a real estate agent, claimed the rental fee of $2,450 was well below market rate and constituted an in-kind contribution from a corporation. He said his calculations showed they should have paid $60,000.

The SEEC, however, took no action on the complaint, stating that in this instance, the restrictions on the rental agreement made it difficult to determine market rate. Those restrictions included being able to end the agreement at any time if a tenant was found or the building sold, and the fact they were not the only group using the space.

At the time, Millington said he was surprised by the ruling.

“The ruling opens the doors for all political parties to accept corporate contributions in this manner,” he said.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-842-2585