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Levy claims Klarides campaign used state computer for campaign purpose

State officials are looking into whether a campaign-oriented letter may have been drafted by a Themis Klarides campaign staffer using a state-owned computer. The questioning comes after Republican candidate for US Senate Leora Levy, who faces Klarides and Peter Lumaj in an August 9 primary, was asked where the letter came from.

The letter in question called on Levy to resign from his role on the Republican National Committee, claiming that his candidacy and opposition to Klarides put him in a conflict of interest, which would ultimately harm the party.

“While we recognize his right to be a primary under Connecticut law, his increasingly negative and personal campaign against a party-endorsed candidate is unbecoming of his office and damaging to the party,” the letter said. . “When a party official competes for elected office, they must also be willing and able to fulfill their party duties. If the behavior or performance becomes contrary to the mission of the party, the official must make a choice. “

The letter was sent to the three Republican town committee chairmen of the central state committee and the RNC, although Ben Proto, head of the state party, said he had not received it.

Levy’s campaign claims the letter was actually drafted by Klarides’ campaign manager, Brian Werstler, on a state-owned computer. Werstler also works for the Connecticut House Republicans, though he said he has been on leave from that position since May.

A campaign spokesman claimed a search of electronic metadata showed the letter was written by Werstler on a state-owned computer. The campaign later filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking emails from Werstler, now the campaign’s spokesperson, that mention the words “Themis” or “TK” from Jan. 7, 2021 until the day the FOIA request is filed.

Werstler confirmed that the state Office of Legislative Management is looking into the matter and said he is cooperating fully.

“Legislative oversight has notified me of the Levy campaign records request. Although I have been on leave from the Capitol since May, I am fully cooperating and have confidence that the non-partisan staff will handle this appropriately,” said Werstler said in a prepared statement. “I am proud of my work for Connecticut Republicans over the years, and I am saddened that, as a party official, Mrs. Levy has chosen to attack fellow Republicans and the their staff to disrupt his record of failed campaigns and donations. to Dick Blumenthal.”

“It’s in the process,” Werstler said during an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media Group. “They handled it the way they had to. I am sure they will do it in a thorough and timely manner. I think that tells us what we need to know. “

Klarides, who served as minority leader of the state House of Representatives from 2015 to 2021, is believed to be the Republican front-runner in a race to unseat US Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Levy’s campaign manager, Christopher Velazco, said it is the Klarides campaign’s “prerogative” to attack his opponents, “but they can’t do it at the taxpayers’ expense.”

“This is about transparency, ethical government and a sincere belief that Connecticut is worth fighting for,” Velazco said in a prepared statement. “That’s why we filed the FOIA.”

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