Formica opponent's campaign says it filed complaint with state elections panel

Ryan Henowitz, the New London Democrat challenging Republican state Sen. Paul Formica of East Lyme, claims Formica has violated state elections law by "funneling campaign funds to his daughter."

Formica dismissed the charges Monday.

"It's unfortunate that my opponent seeks to stoop to this level to get attention," Formica said.

Henowitz's campaign manager, in a strongly worded statement, announced earlier in the day that Henowitz had filed a complaint over the weekend with the state Elections Enforcement Commission. According to the statement, the complaint cites the Formica campaign's hiring of Miranda Creative Inc., a Norwich firm that employs Formica's daughter, Ali Formica.

"Senator Formica has betrayed the public trust by using taxpayers' money to enrich his own family," the release quotes Henowitz as saying. "This is a clear violation of clean election laws, and it is a violation of the trust between a public official and his constituents."

Henowitz's campaign manager, Kayla Giordano, goes further, saying in the statement that Formica should resign from the Senate.

A commission spokesman was unable to say whether the commission had received the complaint. Joshua Foley said any complaints filed this week would be brought before the commission Aug. 10, the date of its next scheduled meeting.

Formica has yet to indicate whether he will apply for public funding for his re-election campaign in the 20th District, Foley said.

Formica, who accepted public funds during his 2014 campaign, said he expects to apply for them again.

Under the state's Citizens' Election Program, a candidate who receives public campaign funds is prohibited from using the funds to pay an entity in which the candidate or a member of the candidate's family has a 5 percent or greater ownership interest.

Formica said his daughter is not an owner of Miranda Creative, which launched a new division, Miranda Campaigns, this year. The firm has advised local political campaigns since 2011.

"She in no way has any ownership equity in that company," Formica said. "I checked with the Ethics Commission and was cleared by them to move forward with hiring the best marketing company that we could find. We used Miranda in 2014, when (Ali) also did work for them."

Maria Miranda confirmed that she is the sole owner of Miranda Creative. The firm's website identifies Ali Formica as a "strategist" and "project manager."

"Ali is a member of our team," Miranda said. "She works for many of our clients. I see no reason why she should be held back from her career because of her father's career."

The 20th District comprises Bozrah, East Lyme, part of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, part of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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