Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fairfax County, VA: SAIC Congressional Candidate and Co-Worker Accused of Violating Election Laws

Fairfax County
By Layla Wilder
Source: Fairfax County Times

Gerry Connolly, considered one of the two top contenders for the Democratic nomination for the 11th Congressional District, is facing allegations of campaign fraud after an SAIC co-worker sent an e-mail soliciting donations for his campaign.

Leslie Byrne, Connolly's strongest opponent, plans to file a complaint against her opponent, alleging that his campaign violated Federal Election Campaign Act and Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations by allowing the e-mail, according to Joe Fox, her campaign manager. The e-mail, sent on May 14 by Robert "Rosie" Rosenberg, asked SAIC employees to support Connolly, and the Byrne campaign is preparing a complaint stating that it wrongfully solicits contributions from co-workers.

It became public amidst a cloud of accusations by Connolly opponents that his SAIC employment presents a conflict of interest to his other job as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Through recent campaign mailings, Byrne also questioned the Connolly's sincerity in opposing the war while working for the large federal contractor.

"Given his 20 years employment in and in-depth understanding of our industry, is the only candidate running for this election who can stop up and strongly help fill the void created by Tom Davis' departure?"

James Walkinshaw, Connolly's campaign manager, said Connolly knew "one of his friends was going to put something out" to the company about supporting the campaign, but he denied any wrongdoing.

"It was within campaign regulations," Walkinshaw said.

Melissa Koskovich, a SAIC spokeswoman, confirmed the e-mail was sent and said Rosenberg followed FEC regulations and by only sending it to the company's executives, administrators, stockholders and their families.

"The e-mail was reviewed and approved in accordance with all of SAIC's internal and outside counsel," Koskovich said. Rosenberg, a consulting employee, asked employees to support Connolly by attending a Professional Services Council fund-raiser.

Connolly is running against Byrne, a former Congresswoman; physical therapist Lori Alexander; and Iraq War veteran Doug Denneny for a seat that has been occupied by Republican Tom Davis for more than a decade. Walkinshaw called the allegations a "vicious campaign" tactic by Byrne that is being "rejected by Democrats in the 11th District."

"The Rosenberg e-mail is a clear violation of federal election law, by both SAIC and the Connolly campaign," Fox said. Fox said the Byrne campaign plans to file the complaint this week.

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