Cindy Cartier is not listed as a business owner with the Connecticut Secretary of State's office. She also is not listed as a business owner in Branford or Waterford, where the Cartier family business, New England Car Wash, has operations.
She is listed as agent for service for New England Car Wash of Waterford, an LLC, according to the Connecticut Secretary of State's Commercial Record Division.
An agent for service according to the Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 33-663, "is the corporation's agent for service of process, notice or demand required or permitted by law to be served on the corporation. Service may be effected by any proper officer or other person lawfully empowered to make service by leaving a true and attested copy of the process, notice or demand with such agent or, in the case of an agent who is a natural person, by leaving it at such agent's usual place of abode in this state."
According to the Secretary of State's Office, Richard Cartier is listed as a member of New England Car Wash of Waterford, LLC, located at 7 Louise Street in Waterford, with a mailing address given as a post office box in North Branford, CT. Cynthia Cartier is listed as the agent as of July 2011.
Cindy Cartier not listed as an owner
The business owner of Richael, Inc., a business located at 379 East Main Street in Branford, CT, the same location as New England Car Wash in Branford, is Cartier's husband, Rich Cartier. Rich Cartier is listed as secretary, president, and director. Cindy Cartier is not listed with the state as a business owner of Richael Inc. in Branford. In the Branford town clerk's office, New England Car Wash of Branford was listed as a trade name in April of 2010 by owner Richard Cartier, and then that trade name was revoked in November 2011.
The Branford assessor's office says the owner of the business at 379 East Main Street in Branford, the location of the car wash, is listed as New England Car Wash, with a post office box in North Branford, CT provided as an address. The owner of the real estate is listed as Richael Properties, LLC. The Waterford assessor's office says the owner of NE Car Wash is listed as New England Car Wash of Waterford, LLC, the entity listed with the Secretary of State's office that has Rich Cartier as the member, and Cindy Cartier as the agent.
Since launching her campaign in February 2012, Cartier has characterized herself, in press releases and in a television ad posted on YouTube, as a business owner.
"As a wife, mother, and small business owner ... "
"Hi, I'm Cindy Cartier and I want to be your state senator," Cindy Cartier says in the ad. "As a wife, mother, and small business owner, I understand the challenges facing working families." She goes on to say that the current approach of government is not working.
When announcing the endorsement of National Federation of Small Businesses in early October, Cartier again characterized herself as a small business owner.
"I am looking forward to addressing supporting small businesses in my district and throughout the State. As a small business owner, I truly understand the challenges that folks are facing in running their businesses and securing decent paying jobs. My voice will resonate in Hartford to better represent the citizens of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford," she said.
"Both spouses pay taxes on the business when they jointly file their personal income tax returns"
Cartier was asked by Patch to further clarify her role in the business. She was asked, when she said she was owner of the business, what she meant by that. She also was asked what specific role she played in running the business.
“This is a silly assertion made by a campaign that is getting more desperate by the hour. New England Car Wash is incorporated the same way hundreds of other small businesses are incorporated across Connecticut. Both spouses pay taxes on the business when they jointly file their personal income tax returns," she said via email.
“For Senator Meyer to assert that I do not own the company my husband and I have work to build and run together since 2008 is ridiculous. It shows a complete lack of understanding of how small businesses work. And it is offensive to the hundreds, if not thousands of women across Connecticut who co-own businesses with their husbands.”
"I think it's a husband and wife thing"
Her opponent, state Sen. Ed Meyer, said he is not taking issue with Cartier's characterization of herself as a business owner, because "I think it's a husband and wife thing. I don't want to put down Cindy for that." He noted that in family businesses, family members often play a variety of roles in the business, regardless of their official designation.
Meyer, in a recent debate at Memorial Town Hall in Madison, did, however, take issue with Cartier's characterization of government as being an impediment to small business, rather than a help. When Cartier launched her campaign in February 2012, she said "it is getting harder and harder for smaller and medium size businesses to survive in this state due to the decisions and ineffectiveness of our State Government.”
"She's blaming government ... when in fact, her small business is ... in existence because of help from the ... government"
Meyer said that he takes issue with that part of Cartier's story.
"She's blaming government for not helping small business when in fact, her small business is, in effect, in existence because of help from both the state and federal government," Meyer said.
Richael Inc., doing business as a gas station operated by Rich Cartier, after struggling to pay its taxes for many years and having a lien placed on it at one point by Branford for late payment of taxes, received a U.S. Small Business Association loan for $495,000 to build New England Car Wash.
Dispite over local tax records, then a lien
The Cartiers, when asked about the tax lien during and after the Madison debate, said the late taxes were the fault of Branford government officials, who incorrectly thought they had one more bay than they did at their business, and so they challenged the assessment. Cindy Cartier said at one point there was no lien. But Branford officials have said, according to state statute, that the business still had a responsibility to pay at least a portion of the taxes while the dispute was being settled and that there was a lien.
When, during construction of that business, soil contamination was discovered, the Cartiers applied for and were granted an additional $150,000 in Superfund money to help pay for the clean-up of the contamination, Rich Cartier said. Cindy Cartier said delivery of those funds was delayed during a state budget crisis, when funds were swept from specific state accounts into the general fund by then Gov. Jody Rell.
Cartier said following the Madison debate that Meyer voted in favor of the sweeping of the accounts, which caused trouble for her family business. Meyer has said the sweeping of the accounts was done so that taxes would not have to be raised on the general population. Meyer said he did not know that the sweeping of accounts created problems for the Cartier family business, but that it seemed to be the best decision at the time so that taxes would not have to be raised.
Contractor's lien for $240,000
When construction was delayed, and delivery of the Superfund money was delayed, the Cartiers have said they had trouble at one point paying the contractors.
One contractor working on the clean-up filed a lien for about $240,000. That money was later paid, the Cartiers said.
When the Superfund money was eventually delivered, Rich Cartier said, it was used in part to help open the Waterford location, where Cindy Cartier is now agent for service.
Cartier and Meyer have participated in a variety of debates. The next debate in Madison is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29 at St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church on Academy Street.