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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sullivan to Rell: Release names of donors

In what may seem to many outsiders as a strange twist, Lt. Governor Kevin Sullivan turns up the heat on Gov. Rell to release the names of donors who contributed to her campaign at her Dec 7 fundraiser (FYI Sullivan is a Democrat who was appointed Lt,. Gov only because of the resignation of former Governor John Rowland).

From The Hartford Courant

Lt. Gov. Kevin B. Sullivan called on Gov. M. Jodi Rell Wednesday to make public the details of a controversial fundraiser that has led to a criminal investigation and the suspension of the governor's chief of staff.

Sullivan said it would be proper form for the governor, who has made ethical behavior the hallmark of her administration, to release the names of all donors whose checks are being returned as a result of the flap.

Sullivan's statements capitalized on an issue that rose to prominence two weeks ago, when The Courant disclosed that the governor's chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody, had violated Rell's stated ethics policy by giving invitations to the Dec. 7 fundraiser to several of the governor's commissioners in Rell's Capitol office suite on state time.

Moody reportedly directed the commissioners to pass out the invitations at their agencies, which might violate state law.

After saying it would report the names of the Dec. 7 contributors on its official campaign finance report due next month, Rell's campaign reversed itself last week. Instead, Rell decided to return all the contributors' checks uncashed, relieving her of any legal obligation to list them on next month's report. Accordingly, her campaign said it would not make the names public.

"This is not, I think, what any of us would have expected from a governor who has set a very high standard for everyone else," Sullivan said.

His criticism increases the political pressure on the Rell administration during the first major controversy in which Rell has been put on the defensive about her commitment to ethics and clean campaigning.

Sullivan said he was reluctant to be critical until now because he said he anticipated that the governor would be forthcoming.

"I've waited the better part of two weeks," he said, "with the expectation that after the initial shock wore off, the governor would adopt an approach that was more consistent with the approach that she has taken to other people's ethical challenges."

Sullivan also questioned the appropriateness of Moody's returning to work while the investigations are pending. He suggested extending Moody's leave beyond the two weeks, but with pay.

Rell's campaign spokesman, Rich Harris, said Wednesday that the campaign committee would not release the donor names "at this time."

[...]

Moody, the governor's closest friend in government, is expected to return to work next week.
A dark cloud is growing over the head of the Governor and with her chief of staff returning work soon, Rell will definately receive more criticism from her opponents. It's fair to say that there has been bad blood between Sullivan and Rell so his criticism of the Governor is no real surprise.

The real surprise is that 1.) Sullivan decided not to run against Rell in the first place and 2). Rell would allow herself to get into this mess knowing that the Democrats would love nothing more than to link her to the Rowland administraion in terms of having an ethical administration.

In order to chip away at Rell's ethically clean image, more Democrats need to grow a spine and come out publically against Rell and her chief of staff and demand that the donor list be released to the public. Her flip-flop on the release of the donor names should not go unchallenged.