Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said on Tuesday that she will stop sending out an electronic newsletter that was the focus of recent Hartford Courant report. The report said that Secretary Merrill, a Democrat, launched a newsletter in June using 5,000 email addresses sent to her from her chief of staff Shannon Wegele.
According to the Courant, 94 percent of those in the e-newsletter database were Democrats; two percent were Republicans; and four percent were unaffiliated. More than half of the newsletter recipients were members of Democratic town committees in 2010.
State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola has accused Denise Merrill of using her office for her own political gain. Merrill is up for re-election next year, although she has not formally announced her intention to run.
During Tuesday's press conference, Merrill said she felt "terrible" that the intent of the newsletter was misconstrued. She pointed out that the nature of the newsletter was informational, and not political. (Read Merrill's statement here.)
Merrill has asked the state Office of the Auditors of Public Accounts to rule on whether the e-newsletter was in compliance with state regulations. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Republican Party filed a complaint with the state auditors office, calling the e-newsletter "a taxpayer-financed tool to help the political standing of Secretary Merrill."