Gov. Rell has apparently broken one of her own rules regarding slush funds, according to the Journal-Inquirer:
Five months after sealing so-called "slush funds" in the state budget, Gov. M. Jodi Rell reversed herself this week, drawing $20,000 to help a fellow Republican from Windsor seeking re-election.
Rell's budget director, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Robert L. Genuario, confirmed Thursday that his office approved $20,000 for the Suffield Volunteer Fire Department to purchase a four-wheel drive vehicle. (Phaneuf)
Okay, so she probably did this for the right reasons. Later on in the article, Fahrbach says that she's been working for a long time to get this vehicle, and I'm sure it's something the fire department needs.
Still. It looks kind of rotten.
[House Speaker James] Amann said "there is no doubt this is a double-standard" for the administration to decry this budgeting practice, then use it to assist one of Rell's political allies.
Republican legislative leaders also have criticized these funds, which were regular budget components under former Gov. John G. Rowland, a Republican who also had to work with a Democrat-controlled legislature. Republican lawmakers said the funds are used primarily by Democratic legislative leaders to fund pet projects and win votes, without these projects being identified publicly and having to undergo the scrutiny of the budget process.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, called the accounts "back-door budgeting" back in May and praised Rell's decision then to seal the funds. (Phaneuf)
This isn't a huge thing. It's going to a good cause.
It also happens to benefit a Republican state representative in a re-election race. It violates her own rule about slush funds, and re-opens them to Democratic use as well as GOP.
And that's what bothers me about Rell. She champions reform, but then either she or someone on her staff acts to undo things in small, yet significant ways. Three steps forward, one step back.
Most people won't pay attention. This is a complicated and boring one, like the Moody scandal, that most people won't care about. But it's there. Add it to the list.
And seal the slush funds for good, next year.
Phaneuf, Keith. "Rell flip-flops on 'slush funds' ; taps account to help Windsor Republican lawmaker." Journal-Inquirer 6 October, 2006.
Derek Donnelly, who is running against Fahrbach, released this statement:
Derek Donnelly, Democratic Candidate for State Representative in the 61st District, announced today that once elected, he will introduce legislation to end the
practice of funneling money through secret "slush funds."
"An equitable and transparent system," Donnelly said, "is imperative to ensure that hard-earned tax dollars are spent appropriately. State funds should be used to assist municipalities in lowering property taxes, not to assist endangered incumbents with their re-election efforts."
Donnelly said his legislation would end the practice of distributing funds without the approval of the legislature.
Donnelly, who is endorsed by the Uniformed Professional Firefighters of Connecticut, did not criticize the intended use for the funds. He was, however, admittedly confused as to why the incumbent would attempt to acquire funding for the SUV, particularly after the Board of Finance approved funds in the last budget to pay for this vehicle.
"Clearly, the incumbent utilized these secret "slush funds" to advance her reelection effort," Donnelly said.
Even if such a bill were passed, I wonder if, should Rell be elected, it would get past the governor. She's territorial.