State dismisses elections complaint against former Fairfield first selectman

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Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau speaks during a meeting with the Connecticut Post Editorial Board on Sept. 30, 2019.

Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau speaks during a meeting with the Connecticut Post Editorial Board on Sept. 30, 2019.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

The State Elections Enforcement Commission has dismissed a complaint against former Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, which alleged that he used municipal funds to promote his 2019 campaign for reelection, in violation of campaign finance laws.

Former Selectman Christopher Tymniak, who filed the complaint with SEEC in 2019, questioned why it took the body so long to make a decision, but was eager to move on from the incident, particularly as Tetreau is no longer in office.

“I am disappointed in the SEEC taking so long,” said Tymniak, now chief administrative officer in Stratford. “The complaint was filed at the time for real reasons.”

The complaint alleged that Tetreau used Fairfield municipal funds to pay for a campaign consultant, and that he “disguised” it as an expense for environmental consulting.

In his complaint, Tymniak alleged that Tetreau hired Christopher Gidez of Fairfield-based G7 Reputation Advisory LLC with money from the Public Works budget in response to a scandal involving toxic dumping at the town’s fill pile.

Two town employees and a former town contractor were charged with allegedly conspiring to dump soil containing toxic levels of lead and PCBs on town property adjacent to the public works garage.

When G7 Reputation was hired, Tetreau also was running for re-election. Tymniak claimed that the hiring of the firm “was designed to protect (Tetreau’s) personal reputation and ‘to call out those who irresponsibly raised public fears.’”

During the SEEC’s March 3 meeting, attorney William B. Smith presented his findings on the investigation into Tymniak’s claim. Smith said though Tetreau used public funds to hire the consultant “it was very specifically to respond to this environmental crisis.”

According to the SEEC’s conclusion, the state contacted Gidez about his hiring and he responded that his work for Fairfield “was limited to providing communications counsel and support to the town during the period in which it was faced with a crisis related to the alleged dumping of hazardous material at its landfill, and the allegations of use of allegedly contaminated soil and aggregate from the landfill on park and school properties.”

Gidez further claimed that he “did not work for (Tetreau’s) campaign organization nor was any of my work for the town related to the campaign.”

During his presentation at the SEEC meeting, Smith said that the consultant’s work yielded “only an incidental benefit” to the first selectman’s unsuccessful re-election campaign. Given his findings, Smith recommended that the complaint be dismissed and it was unanimously approved.

Tetreau didn’t respond to multiple attempts to contact him about the dismissal.

Tymniak said, though he stands by the complaint, he’s eager to move forward. “The town has turned the page,” he said.