This creates a bit of an awkward situation, no? Our right-wing Republican Senate candidate, Steve Laffey, is trying to distance himself from a supporter who sent a potentially illegal letter to his employees asking them to aid Laffey’s Senate campaign, while at the same time this supporter is hosting a fundraiser for Laffey tomorrow night. From the Journal:
PROVIDENCE – - Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey yesterday distanced himself from a letter a supporter wrote to his employees asking them to aid Laffey’s Senate campaign.
The letter, written on American Labor Services, Inc., letterhead by its president, asks workers to help register Hispanic citizens to vote in the Republican primary. It could violate laws that prohibit corporations from telling hourly workers which candidates to support, according to former and current Federal Elections Commission officials.
“We had no idea about this letter,” said Nachama Soloveichik, spokeswoman for Laffey’s campaign. “Had he asked us, we would have told him, ‘Don’t do this. Please don’t do this.’ We encourage him to take whatever steps needed to fix this.”
The letter, written last week by Vincent Indeglia, president of the Providence employment agency, criticizes Laffey’s opponents for their positions on immigration and asks employees to turn over names and contact information of every U.S. citizen they know. Indeglia said he left 50 to 100 copies on the desk where as many as 200 workers pick up their paychecks on Fridays.
Laffey is running in the Republican primary against incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee.
Federal election law prohibits corporations from expressly advocating a candidate’s election or defeat, said FEC spokesman George Smaragdis and Craig Engle, a Republican attorney who worked at the FEC for 10 years.
Indeglia, 42, of Narragansett, said in a phone interview that he is holding a fundraiser for Laffey on Wednesday, but did not consult Laffey or his campaign about the letter. He also said he did not know it could violate the law.
“I’m very sorry if this in any way hurts the guy,” he said.
Indeglia’s letter said he supports allowing illegal workers to stay in the U.S. Spokespeople for the candidates mentioned in the letter said Indeglia did not accurately express their views on the issue.
The letter said Chafee and Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic candidate, want to deport illegal immigrants and make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens, while Laffey supports allowing people to become legal residents and citizens if they choose.
However, Chafee and Whitehouse support legislation that would give illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship if they paid a fine and met other conditions. Laffey wants to secure the nation’s border with Mexico, crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and create a strict guest worker policy.
One wonders if this letter-writing is the only thing that Mr. Indeglia is “unaware” of in terms of corporate legality. Perhaps before owning a corporation with 200 employees, he should have gone over those pesky things called federal regulations.
And what does this mean? “The letter… criticizes Laffey’s opponents for their positions on immigration and asks employees to turn over names and contact information of every U.S. citizen they know.” Why is this company President asking his employees for the “names and contact information of every U.S. citizen they know?” I wish the Journal had asked him more about that.
UPDATE: The Projo followed up with a second article on this today. In it, Laffey calls Mr. Indeglia’s behavior an “honest mistake.” Excuse me, but violating federal election laws as a corporate executive is a little more serious than an “honest mistake.” Trying to control the voting practices of people who are your subordinates and whose jobs you hold in your hands is more than an honest mistake. It is, in my opinion, a serious abuse of power which should be corrected by law enforcement.
Also in the Projo article, Mr. Indeglia continues to offer his great sympathy and apologies — no, not to his employees, whose sense of liberty as voters he may have irreparably harmed, who may now feel intimidated into voting for Laffey and who may believe that they should turn over the names and contact information of “every U.S. citizen they know” in order to build a voter list for their boss. No, the victims of his malfeasance do not get any offers of sympathy or apology. Mr. Indeglia only has sympathy for one person — Steve Laffey, his multimillion-dollar friend.