Both of Gov. Jodi Rell's Democratic opponents have stepped up their criticism of the governor and her staff following yesterday's revelation in the Hartford Courant that cheif of staff M. Lisa Moody may have violated state ethics laws as well as Rell's self-imposed ethics rules.
The state Elections Enforcement Commission is now investigating, but Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy wants to see more:
"It is unacceptable that Gov. Rell is willing to wait for the Elections Enforcement Commission to act on what appears to be a violation of the election law committed by her top aide. Instead, the Governor should call on her own Ethics Czar, immediately, to conduct an internal investigation into what happened, and who was responsible -- and to determine whether or not the Ethics Czar herself was aware of this apparently improper activity." (Malloy press release 12/15/2005)
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano called for Moody's suspension pending the outcome of the investigation:
“With Governor Rell’s top aide admittedly engaged in improper fundraising, Governor Rell should suspend her top aide until the criminal and ethical investigations are complete. Connecticut residents have had enough of scandal during the Rowland years; now Governor Rell needs to clean up her own office,” said DeStefano. (DeStefano press release, 12/15/2005)
DeStefano also accused the governor of "closing her eyes" to ethical lapses in her administration and campaign.
There are a couple of things that stand out about this story. First... it's great to see the Courant investigating a major story like this and staying with it. They've been in the shadow of other papers, like the scrappy Journal-Inquirer, for too long when it comes to investigative journalism.
Secondly, I've been somewhat surprised that the rest of the state media hasn't picked this up. I check online versions of most of the state's dailies in the morning, and only a handful were running it. Why the slow response? I would have thought that possible campaign ethics violations by the chief of staff to a governor who has made ethics a central part of her image would be something people would want to know about.
Meanwhile, the Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating, although the special ethics counsel is not. Colin McEnroe speculates on why that is.