Conflicting Laws Stifle Release of Names In D-SNAP Case
It’s been more than a month since Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced he would be looking to terminate and prosecute any state employee found guilty of post-Irene food stamp fraud, but as of this week only two of the 74 state employees investigated were terminated from their positions.
Attorney Rich Rochlin, who was out of the country Thursday, has said at least one of his 17 clients has been terminated and the Malloy administration confirmed there was another employee who has been fired.
Beyond that the Malloy administration has been quiet about the investigation and Malloy’s Chief Legal Counsel Andrew McDonald said there’s not much he can say even about the terminated employees.
He said the state’s Freedom of Information statutes would normally require the state to disclose the information, however, there’s also statutes governing the privacy of food stamp applicants.
McDonald said he asked the attorney general’s office to look at the juxtaposition of the two statutes and make a determination about whether information about the terminated state employees can be released.
“The question the attorney general’s office is going to be analyzing is how to reconcile that general rule with a very specific statute that precludes the dissemination of that information,” McDonald said Thursday.
Until the terminated employee has exhausted their legal and administrative appeals the names of those individuals may go unreported unless the Freedom of Information Commission finds the information should be released. If that’s how it plays out it’s likely that a complaint would be filed and appealed to Superior Court before the issue is resolved.
Asked about state and federal prosecutors McDonald said none of those applications referred to those authorities has been released, “so they are still part of the criminal investigation.”
Rochlin has said he hasn’t heard from state or federal prosecutors regarding any of his clients.
The fraud investigation was announced by Malloy on Dec. 4.
Rochlin has been the Malloy administration’s most outspoken critic in the matter. Last week he filed a lawsuit against the administration for allegedly trying to stop him from speaking to his clients.