In the small but wealthy town of Easton, a Republican Town Committee shake up early in the year, and the CT GOP’s response, has led to a lawsuit.
During a January 4, 2022 meeting, 30 people were elected to the Easton RTC, ousting some long-time RTC members like Ray Martin, who is facing charges related to filing a false police report, and Richard Colangelo, the former Chief State’s Attorney who stepped down amid a hiring scandal.
Ten RTC members, including Martin and Colangelo, initially mounted a primary challenge – Colangelo withdrew from the primary in February — but a vote was never held after the Connecticut GOP intervened.
Following a meeting by Republican State Central Committee Dispute Committee, where both sides presented their arguments, the State Central Committee determined that because the RTC caucus venue was changed the day before by Easton RTC Chairwoman Wendy Bowditch without ample public notice, the original election was null and void and the 10 individuals voted out in January would remain on the RTC, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed by five Republicans alleges that the RSCC has no jurisdiction over proper notification of a venue change and that the GOP’s actions disenfranchised the 30 individuals elected to the Easton RTC and the people who voted for them. Bowditch is also named in the lawsuit, along with the Town of Easton, the town clerk and the registrar of voters.
The CT GOP moved to have the case dismissed on procedural grounds, arguing the plaintiffs did not properly serve a writ of notice, but the judge denied their motion to dismiss and allowed plaintiffs to amend their complaint and writ summons.
The GOP moved to dismiss again under Connecticut’s Anti-SLAPP statute, based on their First Amendment right to free speech and association. According to the law firm Morrison Mahoney LLP, the Anti-SLAPP statute is meant to “protect parties from frivolous lawsuits aimed at curtailing the exercise of certain federal and state constitutional protected rights.”
The lawsuit was filed on March 4, 2022 and plaintiffs seek an order to void the Republican State Central Committee’s decision, reinstate the 30 individuals elected on January 4 and removal of the 10 primary candidates from the Easton RTC, along with attorney’s fees, costs and damages.
Martin, who has plead not guilty to the charges against him, told the Easton Courier the RTC shake up was due to “right wing extremists” led by June Logie, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Logie argued the vote was based on Republicans “lackluster” performance in elections and pushback against zoning challenges coming from state lawmakers.
Colangelo continues to deny any wrong doing in the hiring scandal that involved former Deputy Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Kosta Diamantis, who is now at the center of federal investigation.
**This article was amended to note the RSCC’s decision was made following a meeting the RSCC Dispute Committee**