Foley Digs In His Heels
Despite public criticism since making the allegations, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley claimed Wednesday in a phone interview that he “won” three of the four accusations he made against Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Sunday during an interview on “Face the State.”
But on the fourth one, he’s still not ready to concede the allegation that Malloy somehow received something of value from Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty.
During the interview Sunday, Foley said some entity controlled by Esty “was compensating Dan Malloy.” He said it was either with consulting fees or something of value, but that it was not a campaign contribution.
Foley, who lost to Malloy in 2010 by less than one percent of the vote, told WFSB Host Dennis House that Malloy was “fully absorbed in the race. There was no way he was performing any work for Mr. Esty if he was being paid anything.”
Esty has denied hiring Malloy to do any consulting work, and Malloy has denied allegations that Esty helped him land the job with Class Green Capital Partners of New York. Malloy, who didn’t seek another term as Stamford mayor in 2009, worked for the municipal financing firm from Dec. 2009 until Nov. 2010, according to his financial disclosure form filed with the state Ethics Commission. Esty’s private consulting firm and Class Green Capital Partners did not do any work together.
“This is something I’ve heard and people believe,” Foley said Sunday of the Esty allegation.
Foley has called on Malloy to release his 2006 through 2010 tax returns in an effort to confirm he was not paid by Esty or Esty’s private consulting business that he operated while he was a professor at Yale University. Foley said his sources, which he declined to name, aren’t sure what year Malloy was compensated, but are still convinced that he was given “something of value by Esty.”
“We still don’t know the answer yet,” Foley said Wednesday. “I still believe it’s true and so do my sources.”
In phone interviews both Tuesday and Wednesday, Foley maintained that he only needed to be right about one of the four accusations.
“I’m proud of my record. Three out of four in 48 hours is pretty good,” he said.
Of the four accusations, Foley believes he was correct when he pointed out that the firm Malloy’s former senior adviser returned to after leaving the governor’s office landed a public relations contract with Access Health CT.
“Global Strategies Group got a contract with Access Health. That’s true and they’ve admitted it,” Foley said.
But Foley didn’t bother to do that research before making the statement on television. Before Foley recited the accusations Sunday he said “there seems that there’s some substance to them, but I can’t confirm that they’re true.”
Global Strategies Group, the firm Roy Occhiogrosso returned to after leaving the governor’s office, did land a $220,000 contract to do strategic communications with Access Health CT. The contract was awarded after a competitive bidding process and information about the contract was public.
“We evaluated and scored three responses to our RFP and ranked GSG’s capabilities the highest with respect to experience and capability for our need,” Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said Sunday in a statement.
So is Foley alleging that there was something improper about the bidding process?
“No, that’s not what I’m claiming,” Foley said.
“Just meeting the ethical standard isn’t sufficient particularly for his former top lieutenant,” Foley said Tuesday. “It leaves the impression that the governor is letting people in the administration parlay their influence with him into lucrative government contracts.”
With no facts in dispute, Foley is expressing an opinion, but on Sunday he made it sound as if there was something illegal about the transaction when there wasn’t.
The state’s revolving door law prohibits Occhiogrosso from contracting with or lobbying any of the 24 people in the governor’s immediate office. Access Health CT is a quasi-public agency funded mostly with federal dollars.
Foley said that doesn’t matter that it was legal because “it leaves the impression that something improper occurred.”
Foley admits there was nothing improper about the awarding of the bid.
The other accusation Foley is claiming that he “won” was the allegation that the UConn Foundation felt pressure from the administration to pay for Malloy’s trips to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and China.
“I think it’s an improper use of their funds and at least one person on the board agrees,” Foley said. “I win on that one too. There are no facts in dispute on these two.”
A spokesman for the UConn Foundation said Tuesday that donations to pay for the trip to Switzerland were paid for with “unrestricted contributions to the UConn Foundation for the general support of the university.”
“Funding for the China trip was provided through a fund specifically designated to support economic development initiatives on behalf of the university,” Arthur Sorrentino, director of communications for the UConn Foundation, said in a statement.
As governor, Malloy is an ex-officio member of the board of trustees for the University of Connecticut. Information about the UConn Foundation’s decision to pay for the trips was well-documented in press releases on the UConn Foundation’s website. It was mentioned in a handful of publications that turn up in a Google search.
The third accusation, which Foley believes he got right, was the alleged “preference” the administration gives to municipalities who use Pullman & Comley as bond counsel.
“They tend to use that firm to make sure their bond offering goes through,” Foley said Sunday in the interview.
However, there’s no need for a municipality to use bond counsel in order to get funding from the state Bond Commission. Foley said that’s not what he meant. He said there’s a perception among some first selectmen and mayors that municipalities have to hire the firm for their municipal bonding if they want additional state funding. He said that’s the perception whether it’s true or not depends on what local officials you ask.
“Mr. Foley’s claims are unsubstantiated, irresponsible, and wrong,” James T. Shearin, a member of Pullman & Comley’s executive committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “Pullman & Comley has been bond counsel to Connecticut municipalities for over 60 years, in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Towns choose their own bond counsel based on talent and price, not politics . . . Moreover, the governor never has any involvement whatsoever with municipal bond offerings.”
“There are no facts in dispute in three of the four,” Foley maintained Wednesday.
Foley’s decision to make the accusations on WFSB’s “Face the State” Sunday was widely panned by newspaper editorial boards and fellow Republicans, like former Gov. John G. Rowland.
The former governor hosts an afternoon radio show and on-air Monday said Foley had a lot of “chutzpah” for making the allegations without having the information to back them up.
“You make charges against someone, I don’t care whether it’s a challenger or the incumbent, you better have the information. You better substantiate,” Rowland said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never seen anything like this before. This is a little bit bizarre.”
Today, Foley will appear on WNPR’s “Where We Live” at 9 a.m. with host John Dankosky.