Oberlander, her fellow lawyer Jeff Ramer, and the rest of the Democrats on our BET have each consented to $1,000 fines. That’s far less than they could have been (should have been) fined, but that’s why people enter into consent settlements in the first place.
The original findings of the SEEC against BET member and Greenwich Democratic Party Chair Tony Turner can be found here. Today’s report has not yet been officially released, but we’ll post it when it is. Boiled down, Turner spent $353,000 of someone’s money on the 2017 election campaign in order to ensure that his fellow candidate, Jill Oberlander, would receive a vote total sufficient to gain her the chairmanship, and thus control of, the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation. Turner announced his plans to his fellow Democrats even before the campaign began, and proceeded to stage six barbecues for Greenwich voters, the invitations to which read “paid for and approved by Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation Democrats”, spent $71,000 on mass mailings, and the balance on hiring staff, buying materials, etc. Oberlander and the other BET candidates, together with their party’s candidates for other positions, attended these events and were fully aware of and approved the mailings.
State election law forbids campaign contributions from business entities and limits contributions to an individual’s campaign to $1,000, so the only way Turner could have spent $353,000 on “his” campaign (the law, remember, barred him from contributing more than $1,000 to the other individuals) was to dig into his own pocket. Did Turner have the resources to afford that? Oberlander and her colleagues don’t have an opinion on that because, they claim, they had no idea he was spending so much money:
In a joint statement released on Wednesday morning, Oberlander, Krumeich, Moriarty, Ramer and Weisbrod … placed the blame for the mistake on Turner, though he was not mentioned by name in the statement.
“During the campaign we relied on the statements of our fellow candidate who indicated he had SEEC approval for his campaign plans,” the statement read. “Only during the SEEC investigation did we learn that the SEEC had not approved his plan and that he had spent an unusually large amount of his own money.”
What, they thought that all those events and mailings were free? According to Greenwich Time, “Turner has … insisted that his Democratic BET colleagues supported his plans for the campaign through frequent emails.
On Wednesday, Turner said he stood by his previous comments.”
But today, Oberlander issued her own statement again putting the blame on Turner and stating her support for the SEEC’s work.
“The SEEC acknowledges that I was misled by a colleague and that I had no intention to violate the requirement to change my filing status,” Oberlander said. “I take full responsibility. I was shocked to learn that I was implicated by a colleague's actions; I will be far more careful in the future.”
UPDATE: Greenwich Time has updated its report to include an additional quote from Tony Turner, so I’m doing the same. It seems that Mr. Turner is miffed that Oberlander is tossing him to the wolves. Hey, Tony, no one ever accused Jill of being a warm and cuddly woman. Think of that fable involving the scorpion.
“I was the rookie, I was proactively helping them,” Turner said. “These are all veteran participants in campaigning and had a responsibility for their own campaign compliance. Never once was I questioned about any aspect of the campaign. Any attorney worth their salt and based on experience, would have both trusted and verified the campaign mechanics vs. campaign laws. Their actions, and denial of them, are shameful.”