When a FOIA Confirms Your Fears… Our System is Broken.


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To the Editor:

Recently Hearst Media ran an article highlighting the Secretary of the State’s investigation into Fairfield Democratic registrar, Matthew Waggner, for wrongfully positioning and soliciting the new Voter Privacy Program (Public Act No. 21-2, sec. 104(c) as something it was not.  As referenced in the article and substantiated through FOIA documents, Mr. Waggner’s abuse of power and flagrant disregard of the law have been exposed, but what if anything is going to be done about it?

For some background, the subject of the article was The Voter Privacy Program, a State program that is intended to be an option to assist victims of unfair targeting based on their personal information on voter records, and it is specifically available for voters who swear under penalty of perjury that releasing their personal information endangers the safety of them and/or their family.

What the Voter Privacy Program is NOT, is an ‘opt in’ of “I don’t want to disclose my information for commercial use”, which is allegedly what Matthew Waggner’s ‘Pink Postcard’ letter to 100 randomly selected registered voters portrays it to be.   When the Secretary of State was made aware of Waggner’s flagrant and arbitrary decision to solicit voters to choose to opt in, their Staff Attorney Aida Carini immediately notified him of his misunderstanding of the statute and ordered he take corrective action.

But instead of complying with the Secretary of the State Attorney’s corrective action, Waggner, insisted that he was right, argued via numerous emails about his understanding versus the charged attorney’s understanding, and then forwarded the emails to a friend for advice, RTM Member Attorney Karen Wackerman, D-7. FOIA records reveal that Waggner solicited Wackerman’s counsel on whether he had any personal risk with regard to the  reference by staff attorney that he may bear liability for his actions.

In subsequent emails Waggner states he is “having a hard time evaluating whether this is a serious concern or hot air” in referencing the legal instruction of Staff Attorney Carini, and Wackerman responds, “Wow! So much aggression from her! It’s so over the top,” and then followed up with “That being said, if you push this, you risk pushing her more and she sounds unpredictable. I hope she drops it. Do you have any friends in that dept who can try to settle her down?”

Is that what our political system has come down to? Relying on advice from elected officials who are also attorneys, to then be told to “call on some friends” to help make issues go away? Months later, the corrective action order has still not been followed. Hartford is silent.  Which begs the question, did he take Wackerman’s advice and make a few phone calls to some “friends.”

Are we as voters expected to be satisfied with the fact that when an elected official makes a mistake (or worse, a calculated departure from protocol), they are able to just claim they had proper intent, make some calls to some friends in a department to help distract the spotlight on their wrongdoing so that they can continue to wield their power in a powerful position that is entrusted to ensure the integrity of our election process?

This is totally unacceptable. There must be members of the Democratic Party who know this wrong, I implore you, step up immediately and right this wrong behavior.  The public depends on you.

Meghan McCloat
Fairfield, CT