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Those Pesky Campaign Finance Rules. Harris Returns Lobbyist Contributions Received During Special Session.

Jonathan Harris has learned all the wrong lessons from the $325,000 settlement (known in common parlance as a fine) state Democrats paid to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) to keep his 2014 campaign emails and other documents secret. The West Hartford Democrat and former Malloy administration official returned dozens of lobbyist contributions last quarter because he received them during the legislative session when the law precludes lobbyists from donating to campaigns.

Harris, who is struggling to raise money for his lethargic effort, told the verboten donors that his exploratory campaign had received the dough after the Senate had called itself into special session, but before the House of Representatives had done the same. Out of that old abundance of caution, which was not in evidence in 2014 when Harris was running that state Democratic Party organization, Harris sent the money back. His third quarter report is rife with “REF” notations for the lobbyist refunds.

Harris is not the first Democrat eyeing the governor’s race. Rival and former election violation prosecutor Chris Mattei, a Hartford Democrat whose exploratory effort is stepping on twenty Bronin toes, has also had some trouble with basic fundraising rules.