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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The scandal no one is paying attention to in Connecticut

At this point, people should be very concerned about Gov. Rell's administration. Hopefully, these new revelations will draw attention to this scandal.
Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday they may reopen hearings into state elections chief Jeffrey B. Garfield's investigation of fundraising violations by top state officials after learning that he deleted sections of a draft report by his agency that might have embarrassed Gov. M. Jodi Rell and her chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody.

"I am very disturbed by this withholding of information," said Rep. David D. McCluskey, D-West Hartford.


Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the committee, agreed. The panel had been hoping to reschedule a meeting on issuing a final investigative report for June 30, but Caruso said Tuesday's developments put that in doubt. "I think we need to pursue this," he said.

The legislators also want to ask about a set of e-mails Garfield turned over to the committee Tuesday. The e-mails were sent in February, while Garfield's agency, the State Elections Enforcement Commission, was in the midst of investigating the fund-raising violations. In one e-mail, Moody, who was central to the investigation, invited Garfield to a restaurant for drinks. Garfield declined.

Both the unedited draft report and the e-mails disclosed Tuesday were turned over to the committee only after the lawyer hired by the Elections Enforcement Commission to investigate its handling of the case, Daniel Klau, discovered they had not been disclosed in April, when the legislative committee requested all relevant documents.


The Elections Enforcement Commission's report contained some intriguing details surrounding Moody's distribution of invitations at the Capitol for a Dec. 7 Rell campaign fund-raising event. But the unedited version of the report contained even more potentially embarrassing information - which McCluskey and Caruso said they would have sought to pursue.

For example, Garfield deleted the original report's only account of a Dec. 30 interview of Rell by two investigators from Morano's office. The deleted section says Morano's investigators informed Rell that at separate meetings, Moody told two officials - a state agency staff chief, Brian Mattiello, and public utilities Commissioner Anne George - that "this meeting never happened." The Garfield-edited version indicates that Moody made that comment only to Mattiello.

That made a big difference to McCluskey, who said, "Two's more than a coincidence. ... If we had known that, maybe that would have stimulated us to bring in Anne George" as a witness.

Among Garfield's other deletions:

Investigators told Rell that Moody solicited the wife of a lobbyist (George is married to a lobbyist). Rell has proclaimed that her campaign will not accept lobbyists' contributions.

When Moody handed out invitations for the Dec. 7 fundraiser to subordinates in the governor's office, she allegedly said: "I am not giving you the strong arm, but I am."

Former gubernatorial ethics counsel Rachel Rubin said she warned Moody that it was wrong to hand out invitations at the Capitol. Moody said Rubin merely told her to "be careful" about giving an invitation to a staff member she had reduced to tears moments earlier. Garfield cut Rubin's version and left Moody's in.
You get the picture? Simply said, this entire episode has been fishy since the beginning and this new information could be damaging to Rell if the Democrats re-open this case (and if the media pays closer attention)