Con­tri­bu­tions re­turned:

First se­lect­man had re­jected Crouse’s chal­lenge to limit fundrais­ing to $6,000

The Day - - REGION - By JOE WOJTAS Day Staff Writer j.wojtas@the­day.com

Ston­ing­ton First Se­lect­man Rob Sim­mons has re­turned two cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to avoid a con­flict of in­ter­est.

Ston­ing­ton — Re­pub­li­can First Se­lect­man Rob Sim­mons said this week that he has re­turned two cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to­tal­ing $1,100 be­cause the donors have pend­ing busi­ness be­fore the town.

He said he re­turned a $1,000 do­na­tion from David Lat­ti­zori of Gro­ton Long Point, who is de­vel­op­ing the Coogan Farm prop­erty into a med­i­cal re­search and res­i­den­tial cam­pus. Lat­ti­zori is ex­pected to file an ap­pli­ca­tion soon for the fi­nal ap­proval he needs from the Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion.

Sim­mons said that be­cause of this, he felt it best not to have a con­tri­bu­tion from Lat­ti­zori “to avoid any ap­pear­ance of a con­flict of in­ter­est.” Sim­mons said he has known Lat­ti­zori for many years.

He also said he re­turned a $100 con­tri­bu­tion from Robert Han­non of Wash­ing­ton Street in Mys­tic be­cause a neigh­bor has filed a com­plaint with the town charg­ing that Han­non is op­er­at­ing an il­le­gal short term ren­tal. Sim­mons said the town at­tor­ney is re­view­ing the com­plaint.

Sim­mons said the re­turns will ap­pear in the next cam­paign fi­nance re­port to be filed at the end of the month.

“There’s noth­ing wrong or il­le­gal about ei­ther con­tri­bu­tion but I wanted to avoid any con­flict of in­ter­est,” Sim­mons said.

He said he called both men and told them he ap­pre­ci­ated their sup­port and ex­plained why he was re­turn­ing their do­na­tions.

Sim­mons re­buffed Demo­cratic chal­lenger Ge­orge Crouse’s pub­lic chal­lenge to limit fundrais­ing to $6,000. Through Sept. 30 Sim­mons, along with his run­ning mate, se­lect­man can­di­date John Prue, raised $10,420 for the elec­tion. The re­turn of the two do­na­tions will re­duce that to $9,320.

Crouse, mean­while, has filed a doc­u­ment with the state Elec­tions En­force­ment Com­mis­sion say­ing he is ex­empt from fil­ing can­di­date com­mit­tee fundrais­ing re­ports, be­cause he is among a slate of can­di­dates whose cam­paigns are be­ing funded solely by the Demo­cratic Town Com­mit­tee, which will file a re­port show­ing what it has spent on his be­half.

The Demo­cratic Town Com­mit­tee’s re­port filed Tues­day shows it has raised $7,468 but not ex­pended any money through Sept. 30. Crouse has pledged not to spend more than $6,000.

Three weeks ago, Crouse, who was de­feated by Sim­mons in 2015, is­sued a joint state­ment along with Demo­cratic Town Com­mit­tee Chair­man Scott Bates and in­cum­bent Demo­cratic Se­lect­woman Kate Rotella, say­ing the limit would stop big money and out­side groups from in­flu­enc­ing the elec­tion. They could not say what groups those might be.

Sim­mons, who raised $33,195 to Crouse’s $5,125 in 2015, said he would not limit his fundrais­ing as do­na­tions had come in and he had planned out his cam­paign strat­egy.

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