Saturday, March 18, 2006

Propaganda on the Net


Governor M. Jodi Rell's Chief of Staff has been accused of violating campaign laws. Many high ranking officials may face fines over improper behaviors. Why hasn't any of these law breakers been arrested?

From the RS RedState blog:

McCain Stumps For Rell

By: California Yankee ยท Section: Election 2006

Arizona Senator John McCain campaigned for Governor Rell saying that electing Connecticut's Republican governor to a full term would show the nation that now is the time for reform.

The Hartford Courant's Mark Pazniokas reports McCain reinforced Governor Rell's image as an ethics and campaign-finance reformer who restored faith in government since a corruption investigation forced the resignation of Governor Rowland:

"When we elect Jodi again, this time on her own, I think we will send a message to the country that reform's time has come," McCain said. "It's come time in Washington. It's come time in Arizona and California. And we can look to the state of Connecticut as a model for reform."


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E-Mail Case To Be Probed Hearings Planned On Official's Disclosure Of Confidential Information
March 18, 2006
By JON LENDER, EDMUND H. MAHONY, And MARK PAZNIOKAS Hartford Courant Staff Writers

Lawmakers said Friday that they will investigate the actions of state election enforcement Director Jeffrey B. Garfield after the disclosure that he sent confidential information to Gov. M. Jodi Rell's campaign manager and let him act as a go-between in negotiations to settle charges of fundraising violations by top Rell administration officials.

"I've got to say I am really upset about these revelations," said Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the legislative elections committee, which plans a hearing within a few weeks. Caruso said he expects to call Garfield, Rell campaign manager Kevin Deneen, and Rell chief of staff M. Lisa Moody, with whom Deneen says he talked about his contacts with Garfield.

Rell responded with an emphatic endorsement of Deneen's actions in soliciting an e-mail from Garfield last month. The e-mail attached a copy of a proposed legal settlement with 16 commissioners and deputy commissioners, all of whom were accused of illegally soliciting money for Rell's campaign.

"It was a campaign violation and a campaign violation that had gone to the elections enforcement commission," Rell said.

"As campaign manager, as an attorney, who wanted to make sure that if there was anything he could do to facilitate it, he had every right to do that."But Caruso and other Democratic officials countered with Garfield's previous pronouncements that Rell's campaign was not a party to the elections case.

"The campaign was not a target, so some questions need to be answered as to why the campaign manager needed to be involved," said Senate President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn.

Friday's developments came after The Courant's disclosure of an e-mail that Garfield sent to Deneen on Feb. 10.

In that e-mail, obtained through a freedom of information request, Garfield told Deneen the attached draft agreement contained "the most neutral language I can provide to resolve this matter, giving the commissioners and deputies the full benefit of all doubt. Let me know how you make out in your discussions."

Garfield this week said that in retrospect he "may have made a mistake" in giving such sensitive information to Deneen, who, although he is an attorney, did not have a client in the case. Deneen acknowledged his motive was "to get this resolved for the sake of the campaign."

The agreements were finally signed and the elections commission on March 8 approved settlements with all 16, calling for $500 fines but no admission of any violation of a law banning commissioners and deputies from soliciting campaign contributions. Moody, who precipitated the officials' troubles by telling them to hand their subordinates invitations to a Dec. 7 Rell fundraiser, did not fall under the law and was spared legal sanctions. Democratic Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, long a Garfield ally, said she was "incredibly disappointed" by his actions, "because it appears that no one is watching the watchdogs."

She said the incident spotlights a need to consider changing state law to establish a now-lacking "mechanism for redress" - possible discipline or even removal of an enforcement official such as Garfield. She said in this case Garfield appeared to be "deliberately trying to curry favor with the governor."

Democratic Lt. Gov. Kevin B. Sullivan said Garfield and his agency "were so focused on settlement that they in effect swept this under the rug, and I am very, very disappointed in the way Jeff handled this."

But Garfield got better reviews from his bosses on the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

"The commissioners intend no further action on this," commission Chairman Stephen Cashman said after talking with Garfield and with two of the three other members of the panel.

"I don't think that it was wrong."

"I think we agreed with his assessment that he made an error in judgment ... that, given the position of attorney Deneen, it perhaps would have been better that he not release the information."

But, Cashman added, "we are comfortable no policies were violated and certainly no laws were violated."

But Democrats said the commission's resolution of the case may now be compromised.

"The commission is supposed to be a watchdog agency, independent of political pressure. Instead, Gov. Rell's campaign manager tainted the investigation and undermined its credibility," said New Haven Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial contender John DeStefano.

"It is clearly improper for a campaign manager to negotiate with a government entity, and to be in touch with state commissioners acting as a go-between," said Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Dannel Malloy, the mayor of Stamford.

"If the special legislative investigation finds that laws have been violated, then the issue has to be referred to the proper investigative authorities for further action, and possibly a grand jury."

"I think we've had the highest regard for Jeff Garfield over the years as a very professional and very thoughtful individual," said committee co-Chairman Donald DeFronzo, the Democratic New Britain senator who joined Caruso at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to announce plans for the hearing.

"We're a bit concerned by the actions in this specific case and are eager to hear his side of the story. We are equally perplexed, though, by the role the Rell campaign has played in this event. An uninvolved third party, obviously with the potential of wielding considerable influence on this process, is essentially acting as a broker for the commissioners that were the subject of this complaint."

Legislative Republicans dismissed Democrats' statements as election-year politics.

"They continue to see their two candidates in various polling pale in comparison, and they need to do something about that," said Deputy House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk.

"They are going to have a hearing for the purpose of embarrassing the governor."

"Quite frankly I don't think the Republicans should participate in the public hearing," said state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield.

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