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Malloy Writes Personal Check For White House Dinner

by Hugh McQuaid | May 2, 2013 12:17pm
(11) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Ethics, White House

Hugh McQuaid photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

(Updated 12:48 p.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has written a $1,234.62 personal check reimbursing People magazine for costs it incurred when it paid for the governor’s attendance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, his spokesman said Thursday.

Malloy’s announcement cames a day after Sen. John McKinney alleged that the governor had violated the state’s ethics rules prohibiting public officials from accepting gifts in excess of $100. In his statement, Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba said the governor decided to reimburse the magazine to “remove a needless distraction when there are far more important public policy issues to deal with.”

Doba reiterated his assertion that the magazine’s payment of the governor’s trip had been appropriate under ethics laws. He said Malloy was advancing Connecticut’s interests while he was in Washington for the dinner. 

“The governor’s office accepted People magazine’s gift in order to relieve taxpayers of the cost. Instead of shifting the cost to the taxpayers, the governor is personally paying the cost,” he said.

The correspondents’ dinner is an annual event attended by the president as well as a host of Washington-based journalists, politicians, and celebrities. The event was held on Saturday in Washington. A spokeswoman for People confirmed that Malloy was a guest of the magazine, but referred further inquiry to Doba.

McKinney, a Fairfield Republican who is considering running for governor in 2014, said Malloy failed to clear the trip with the Office of State Ethics. By letting People magazine pick up the tab, McKinney said Malloy “clearly” used his office illegally for personal gain.

Office of State Ethics Executive Director Carol Carson said Wednesday that the administration did not seek an opinion from her office regarding this weekend’s trip but she could not confirm or deny whether she received any complaints or if she was investigating the trip.

In his Thursday statement, Doba outlined some of the discussions Malloy had while in Washington to promote Connecticut. He met with the small business administration regarding relief for businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy and federal small business investment programs.

Doba said Malloy also met with members of Congress on federal gun control legislation and proposals to establish a regional infrastructure bank. He said the governor also promoted Connecticut’s digital media sector.

The state’s ethics laws permit public officials to allow interests that do not do business with the state to pay for the costs of events that promote the state’s interests, Doba said. Otherwise, taxpayers or the governor himself would need to pay for it, he said.

“We would rather decrease costs to taxpayers. And we don’t believe that personal wealth should be a prerequisite for the governor’s active promotion of this great state,” he said.

On Wednesday McKinney said if Malloy traveled to Washington to promote Connecticut, it would have been more appropriate under state law if he had used state money to fund it. He also questioned whether the dinner, an annual social event, was a legitimate place to promote Connecticut.

“The governor cannot transform a social event like this into a business meeting merely by talking up the state over champagne and hors d’oeuvres, nor can he transform this into a legitimate business trip by scheduling some brief ancillary meeting with a federal official or business group,” he said.

In a Thursday statement, McKinney said Malloy had begun to make amends by reimbursing People for the trip, but said the administration was wrong for defending accepting the gift in the first place.

“He and his staff continue to set a bad example for elected officials and state government by defending his actions. His dismissive attitude toward state ethics laws sets a dangerous precedent. I look forward to hearing the opinion of the Office of State Ethics on this matter,” he said.

On Wednesday, the governor’s general counsel, Luke Bronin, said the governor’s office would be seeking a formal advisory opinion from the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board “out of an abundance of respect for Connecticut’s ethics laws.”  After announcing Malloy would be reimbursing People for the expenses, Doba said the administration considered the issue resolved.

Carson said public officials have 30 days after receiving a gift to repay the expenses. She said Malloy’s reimbursement was a “good resolution.” She said the administration informed her office it was no longer seeking a formal opinion on the matter on Thursday morning.

McKinney said he did not believe Malloy’s reimbursement closed the book entirely on the matter, but stopped short of saying he would personally petition to have the ethics board investigate it.

“Paying back is an important part of it, but it’s not absolving the entire issue. They may try to sweep it under the rug, but this does not put the issue to bed, in my opinion,” he said.

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(11) Comments

posted by: Luther Heggs | May 2, 2013  1:45pm

Average Joe on the street knows that it would be a violation of ethics to accept gifts/tickets/trips/contractor work/etc.  Did he think the Keebler elves paid for this trip?

If he is unaware of even this basic fact without having to have his lawyer (btw, isn’t he a lawyer as well?) or accountant tell him then he is undeserving of occupying the governor’s office.

Might want to check the cash flow into his bank accounts…

posted by: Truckerjoe216 | May 2, 2013  2:11pm

This seems to be another witch hunt from individuals that have nothing better to do with their time we give them in office, there are more important issues in this state that need attention, like on how to our spend tax payer dollars, his staff made the mistake of accepting this event with out the proper research, Mr. Malloy made it right by paying for this out of his own money, and not giving the tax payer’s the bill, but as usual certain people will keep digging, - choose your battles - this one shouldn’t even be considered one!

posted by: Just another CT resident | May 2, 2013  3:33pm

Sorry Mr. McQuaid, but who is Doba person and what are his credentials if any to back his statement that payment by People did not violate the Ethics Laws of CT? Is he a lawyer familiar with this State’s Ethics Laws? Also, did Executive Director Carol Carson think the the payment complied with the Ethics laws in CT?
Apparently Danny boy doesn’t think his actions complied with the laws otherwise he would have had the State reimburse People Magazine.
I would also like to know from Executive Director Carol Carson what the ramifications are for violating this State’s Ethics Laws. I think a follow conversation with Executive Director Carol Carson is appropriate. Please let us know what you find out.
Thanks

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 2, 2013  3:47pm

Someone will reimburse him with cash so he wont be out any money.

He’s going to be the new Gun Czar when he gets defeated, unless the Republicans impeach Obama for what is about to come out from the Benghazi whistleblowers in the next few days.

posted by: ALD | May 2, 2013  4:03pm

To me this is no real big deal. It’s just an example of the kind of decisions many of us can make when we don’t give things much thought.  What concerns me much more with this guy are many of the decisions he makes when he gives them a lot of thought.

posted by: Christine Stuart | May 2, 2013  4:29pm

Christine Stuart

We apologize for not initially including a first reference to Andrew Doba, the governor’s spokesman. We have also updated the story with information from Carol Carson at the Office of State Ethics. Thanks for being such thorough readers. We love you!

posted by: Noteworthy | May 2, 2013  5:25pm

Malloy is writing the check because he was wrong not because it is a needless distraction. Secondly, if this expense had been proffered to any CT business as a legitimate expense, the CEO would fire that employee. Third, the various explanations for Malloy’s trips have been all over the board. What is now operative has not been contained in any previous ‘splainin. And finally, if I’m reading the story correctly, Malloy met with congressmen on Sandy and the SBA. On a Saturday afternoon? They were in DC? Every other weekend, they’re holding pressers on how they’re outraged over something..and “it won’t be stand.”

posted by: THREEFIFTHS | May 2, 2013  5:32pm

To those who say this is not big deal.How about when the state workers took those benfits and Dan Malloy tryed to fire them.

posted by: JAM | May 2, 2013  7:47pm

@ALD:
If things in Ct were flush, I might agree with you. However, given the budget issues facing the state, I find flying off to a lavish party in DC inappropriate. Clearly sends the wrong message.

posted by: Commuter | May 2, 2013  9:25pm

Notworthy said in part: “...if this expense had been proffered to any CT business as a legitimate expense, the CEO would fire that employee.”

Not really. This would easily fit on the expense account of an executive seeking to network with potentially influential people, and it would be fine to accept, in the private sector. We do it all the time.

What Malloy did wouldn’t raise so much as an eyebrow in the private sector.

Sorry Mr. McKinney, but business people know better. You’ve succeeded in exposing yourself as petty and venal in your effort to become governor.

posted by: Noteworthy | May 3, 2013  3:50pm

Commuter a/k/a Malloy Apologist - I’d like to work for your company. The amount of networking is zilch.