Clearwater direct-mail firm targeted in FBI probe over Connecticut House mailers

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into a Florida direct-mail company to determine if Connecticut House Republicans were under pressure to use its services for campaign mailings.

FBI agents subpoenaed two direct mail companies, one in Florida and another in Ohio to review contracts and correspondence with state House GOP, reports the Morning Journal News out of Lisbon, Ohio.

State caucus members and the House Republican Campaign Committee and the New Friends PAC had used the firms — Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems Inc. and Ohio-based King Strategic Communications. The FBI stepped in when Connecticut Republican State Rep. Dan Carter switched from the Ohio to the Florida firms.

Carter told investigators the move was because the Ohio company raised its prices.

“Nobody ever pressured me in any shape or form that I should use one or the other,” Carter told the Associated Press. “I’ve never felt either way I ever had to use one of those companies. They said that very clearly I’m not a person of interest in this investigation. They’re just looking for information.” –

In addition to documents related to direct-mail companies, federal authorities asked for all correspondence — text messages, emails, letters and memos — exchanged between House Republican staff and the caucus chief of staff, former state GOP chair George D. Gallo, who resigned Thursday when news of the investigation broke.

Authorities are also asking for documents and correspondence regarding The Vinco Group, a consulting firm with ties to Gallo.

Veteran Connecticut State Rep. Arthur O’Neill told the AP he had not talked with the FBI, but he used Direct Mail Systems for his most recent re-election campaign.

O’Neal learned about Direct Mail after a local office was not available, he asked colleagues for a proposal to manage his mailings. House Republicans who spoke with the FBI told O’Neill they were asked why they used Direct Mail Systems.

O’Neill said he was never been pressured any particular business for campaign mailings, and he was allowed to hire any company he desired. The Republicans use Direct Mail Systems, O’Neill said, because “they do good work,” and give the House GOP a discount.

It is difficult to find a company to handle the intricacies of political mailings, such as production and distribution O’Neill said. Gone are the days of volunteers of stuffing envelopes at a staffer’s kitchen table.

“When you have one company, everything is coordinated inside that company,” O’Neill said.

The FBI investigation surprised both Connecticut Republicans and Democrats, who use a limited number of companies for direct mailings.

“I don’t believe anybody who has been asked any questions did anything wrong,” O’Neill added, and that he has not seen any evidence of any wrongdoing by Gallo.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.