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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

State Democrats hold hearings into Gov. Rell campaign violations

May will be an interesting month.
The Legislature will hold a series of hearings into Gov. M. Jodi Rell's recent campaign-finance violations, spurred on by a Bridgeport Democrat who said lawmakers must forge ahead with good-government initiatives.

Republicans and Rell's office dismissed the announcement as a politically motivated attempt by majority Democrats to keep the issue alive and attack a governor whose popularity hovers at around 80 percent.

Rep. Christopher L. Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the Government Administration & Elections Committee, was joined Monday by Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, committee vice chairman, in a news conference announcing that the first hearing will be May 10.

It will focus on how the State Elections Enforcement Commission handled its staff while investigating Rell's controversial December fund-raiser and the manner in which Jeffrey Garfield, the commission's executive director, communicated with Rell's campaign manager.

"We have the obligation to seek information," Caruso told reporters. "People who say it's a witch hunt are probably the same people who don't want reform in this building."

Thirteen of Rell's cabinet commissioners, plus three other deputies, were fined $500 each for taking invitations to Rell's campaign event and distributing them to subordinates.