To the Editor:

There is a quandary about New Milford mayoral candidate Pete Bass with handling finances.

His unpaid debts from at least eight lawsuits stretch back over a decade. He says job and health issues caused him not to pay his debts. Yet Bass spends thousands of dollars on nonessential political activities.

Since 2009, Bass and his wife contributed over $1,600 to the New Milford Republican Town Committee and certain candidates. One or more contributions were made every year, including 2017.

In April and May, Bass sent a custom-made mailing to a few thousand New Milford households. Bass claims he paid for it personally, as he didn’t have a campaign committee until mid-July.

An estimated cost is at least $2,500 or thousands more. Despite sending the mailing as a town council member, and using a custom-made stamp of the New Milford Town flag from Stamps.com, Bass has refused to present receipts as to how the bill was paid.

The quandary: What are we to think? There are three possible scenarios: Bass has difficulties, yet deliberately chooses to spend on politics instead of honorably paying debts; his difficulties are exaggerated, so he has money to honor debts but spends on politics instead; or Bass has difficulties, but someone else is paying for his political activities, an unethical or illegal gift to an elected official.

None of these scenarios represent personal responsibility, integrity, or leadership.

After articles in the News-Times and Spectrum described a series of lawsuits, judgments and liens against him, Bass made a video to explain his debts. The video describes how the Great Recession affected his job, a heart attack in early 2016 also set him back, and sometime in the last year he has dealt with thyroid cancer.

He goes on to describe how over the years he had to choose between feeding his family and paying bills, and how in 2017 he spent over $10,000 on medical insurance and expenses.

Everyone wishes him a speedy and successful recovery. But none of his explanations fit with the political spending.

The Great Recession started in 2008, so how could he afford political contributions every year since? Combining the Great Recession with his healthcare expenses, how could he afford an expensive mailer and political contributions?

All the while Bass says he had to decide between feeding his family and paying his bills. The quandary for New Milford: What can we believe?

Bass has funds for political activities, so why not pay judgments instead?

Did he have to choose between feeding his family and paying bills - while spending on politics?

The Great Recession didn’t deter his political spending. Bass claims he spent over $10,000 on medical bills, yet spent significant funds on the recent political mailing.

Bass has acted irresponsibly. He does not show concern for debts to local businesses, and flaunts the courts by not paying judgments. Explanations he makes simply don’t add up. And there is the possibility someone else paid for his nonessential political activities.

Curiously, Bass won’t disclose who paid for his mailing. He refused to answer a Freedom of Information request, and hired a lawyer to represent him. The lawyer is working to keep him from disclosing payment receipts, even though Bass claims he paid for the expense.

Does that make sense - unless you don’t want to reveal who paid the bill? That’s a big quandary.

Every family faces serious problems, and every family must make tough choices and sacrifices.

But political contributions and mailings are not a necessity - especially if you have numerous lawsuits. A responsible adult would not spend on political activities if the choice is either feed his family or pay debts.

None of us are saints, and everyone has faced tough decisions. But most choose to find ways out of tough spots - especially if someone wants to be the mayor of 28,000 citizens and a $100 million budget.

The quandary remains: What can we believe?

Jeff Winter

New Milford