Saturday, January 17, 2009

Anatomy of a Political Scumbag?


Image stolen [from here]

In the Capitol's latest chapter of "You wash my back, I'll wash yours..."
By Helen Ubinas
January 16, 2009 4:43 PM

And [this with a straight face].

But should we expect anything else from the shameless former House Speaker James Amann?

Let's not forget that this is the same guy who had to be spanked before he stopped hitting up lobbyists for donations while employed at the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

And he needs a three-figure job like this to help finance his run for governor.

1 / 2 - Friday, April 27, 2007


Page: B1
Source: JON LENDER; Courant Staff Writer
Illustration: PHOTO: COLOR MUG
Caption: AMANN
Despite Democratic staff attorneys' objections and a possible court challenge, the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board approved a legal opinion Thursday saying House Speaker James Amann can't solicit donations from lobbyists for his employer, the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

``It would be an inappropriate use of Representative Amann's public office [as a legislator] and his position [as Speaker] to solicit funds or sponsorships from lobbyists ... for the MS Society, which provides [him] with financial gain,'' the opinion said, which was written by Barbara Housen, general counsel for the advisory board and the Office of State Ethics.

The advisory board approved the opinion 6-1, despite arguments by three Democratic House staff attorneys that the opinion went far beyond existing ethics statutes that prohibit officials from using their public offices for private financial gain. It will ``wreak havoc'' with many legislators, who must hold jobs and have business dealings to earn a living under Connecticut's system of part-time legislators, Democratic attorney Laura Jordan said.

The opinion's approval came more than a month after public criticism led Amann, D-Milford, to announce that, in his job as a fundraiser for the MS Society's Connecticut chapter, he would stop soliciting donations from lobbyists -- although he will still seek them from people lobbyists represent.

But Amann had already asked ethics officials for the opinion, and the question still mattered Thursday to those on both sides.

Members of the ethics board saw a need to interpret state conflict-of-interest laws in uncharted territory. ``There is no specific precedent on this subject dealing with a speaker and the lobbyists,'' board member Dennis Riley said, pushing for a vote when some hesitated because Amann had already stopped his lobbyist solicitations.

Amann and his lieutenants disagreed so much that his press spokesman, Larry Perosino, said afterward that a Superior Court appeal of Thursday's ruling is ``under consideration.''

Amann didn't attend the meeting, but issued a release:

``Well before this opinion, I indicated I would not solicit lobbyists, so my personal situation is a fait accompli. My concern, however, is the potential broad impact on the Legislature and how we govern. It is important to make sure that everyone understands the rules and there are no gray areas. This opinion doesn't accomplish that, so we are left with more questions than answers and unknown repercussions.''

Republican State Chairman Christopher Healy had precipitated the controversy in early March, after issuing a press release, and talking to reporters, about Amann's use of his office to raise money for his employer. He criticized the latest example of Amann's dual roles as speaker and fundraiser, an invite for lobbyists to attend a $350-a-ticket benefit concert at Mohegan Sun.

Healy applauded Thursday's decision, saying that ``it validates what I think most people that have any common sense would conclude, that the line is pretty clear with what leaders are elected to do -- and that's represent the interests of the people, and not the interests of their employers.''

A couple of board members used the ``common sense'' argument to support the opinion, agreeing with Housen's wording that ``because soliciting lobbyists is inherently coercive and creates an atmosphere of pressure,'' it is an ``improper use of [Amann's] public office and position.''

But Jordan, the Democratic attorney, said, ``We object strongly to the suggestion'' of coercion or pressure. And Amann's chief of staff and general counsel, Robert Frankel, said the letter of the law, not good intentions or common sense, should rule. ``You violate the law when you act on common sense,'' Frankel said.

Frankel's participation was questioned at first by board Vice Chairman Robert N. Worgaftik, who said he was concerned about using state funds for the personal benefit of Amann's defense. Frankel said he was not Amann's attorney but represented the office.

Frankel and the other Democratic lawyers said Housen's opinion was a ``radical'' departure from a 2-year-old opinion prepared by a lawyer from the former State Ethics Commission, which the new advisory board has replaced. In that opinion, a former commission attorney did not explicitly explore the propriety of Amann's soliciting lobbyists. She said that Amann needed to concern himself with how the contributions are used -- not where they come from.

``The code does not prohibit his solicitation of contributions ... provided that the money raised does not specifically benefit his position,'' the attorney said.

Amann has been soliciting lobbyists for three years on behalf of the MS Society. He originally was paid $60,000 and given a fundraising goal of $125,000. His goal was raised to $180,000 in 2005, $197,500 in 2006 and $250,000 in 2007. His pay rose in September to $67,500.
Contact Jon Lender at

ID: 1590124
Tag: 200704270895
Copyright © 2007, THE HARTFORD COURANT. Unauthorized reproduction or Web posting prohibited.

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Connecticut Bob paints James "Jim" Amann as a Mafia Don in this video:

[click here] for Connecticut Bob video list

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Public Corruption, Attorney and Judicial Misconduct are present because there is a lack of an effective Grand Jury System. The need for a strong Grand Jury system, and the process explained [click here]

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[click here] for:

Judges, some are public abusers for life

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Blogger's Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials, Notice
[found here]


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