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Yankee Institute Cleared, AG Finds No Evidence of Email Tampering

by Christine Stuart | Jul 28, 2011 4:21pm
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor, Legal

(Updated 5:52 p.m.) The Yankee Institute’s name was cleared Thursday by Attorney General George Jepsen, who released his findings regarding a month long investigation into an email campaign that was critical of the labor deal.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint made by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, who alleged through their attorney that the misinformation being spread about the concession package started with the conservative group. It didn’t.

“State information systems security personnel informed us that the e-mails were not sent from within the state system, and there was no evidence that the safeguards in place to protect the state’s network from hackers or other intrusions were compromised or altered to permit or facilitate the transmission of these e-mails,” Jepsen wrote in a press release.

Jepsen asked the Auditors of Public Accounts to help him investigate the matter as a whistleblower complaint. They returned their report to his office a few weeks ago.

In the complaint SEBAC alleged that negative information about the tentative agreement was sent to state employees through “blast” e-mails, suggesting state software settings were circumvented in order to widely distribute the emails.

“State information systems security personnel found no evidence that anyone sent “blast” e-mails concerning the tentative SEBAC agreement from outside the state e-mail system to hundreds or thousands of state employees in a single mailing and no evidence that security measures were bypassed,” Jepsen said.

Yankee Institute of Public Policy Director Fergus Cullen repeatedly denied the email and hacking allegations. In a statement Thursday he said his organization is reserving the right to take legal action.

“The unions can file harassing complaints with the Attorney General to try to silence us. They can pressure our landlord to rescind our lease. But we will not be intimidated from defending Connecticut’s taxpayers,” Cullen said. “SEBAC has defamed and slandered us, and abused the state’s whistleblower law with false and unsubstantiated accusations. We reserve our legal options.”

Jepsen said the investigation is now closed.

“Our review of the e-mails provided by SEBAC, and other selected e-mails that originated from IP addresses outside the state system, did not show that the state e-mail system was improperly accessed or compromised in violation of state laws or policies. Therefore, based on the evidence to date, and with the agreement of the State Auditors, I am closing the investigation,” Jepsen wrote.

The union coalition thanked Jepsen and the auditors for investigating the complaint, but they refused to apologize for filing the complaint or concede they may have been wrong. 

“It’s disappointing that the state’s email system is apparently arranged so that outside groups can get around inadequate software restrictions and distribute emails through the system without being in violation of computer hacking laws—and apparently without even being subject to detection. We continue to believe that doing so using assumed names for the purpose of disrupting a free and fair democratic vote is immoral, if not illegal,” SEBAC said in an emailed statement.

“Union leaders have no doubt the Yankee Institute will continue regardless. We would respect them much more—though obviously not agree with them—if they would openly admit what their motives are for getting involved in state workers’ elections. We would also respect them more if they stopped employing people as in-house propagandists that masquerade as ‘investigative reporters’.”

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(15) Comments

posted by: sheepct | July 28, 2011  4:43pm

Again SEBAC makes false accusations. SEBAC blamed the Yankee Insitute for helping to bring down the first vote. When will SEBAC learn that state employees can think and make their own decisions. SEBAC needs new leadership. They have no creditability.

posted by: sickofit | July 28, 2011  6:11pm

Geez, could it be that SEBAC lied??????? That would be dishonest.

posted by: Ben Dover | July 28, 2011  6:35pm

SECRAP, it wasn’t the Yankee Institute, it was the Easter Bunny…....no, the one armed man…...no wait, the Tooth Fairy!

posted by: interesting | July 28, 2011  9:05pm

Now the Yankee Institute can sue SECRAP for demination of character! Lets see how SECRAP fixes that.

posted by: timelord | July 28, 2011  9:50pm

Wow, SEBAC, paranoid much?

posted by: logical1 | July 29, 2011  5:45am

SECAP rep stated on “Face the State” several weeks ago that he had proof on Yankee Institute’s malfeasance…does he get to blatantly lie without repercussions?

posted by: CharlesH | July 29, 2011  8:07am

It’s incredible that these ludicrous charges were taken seriously in the first place…

posted by: Wakewhenover | July 29, 2011  8:39am

Thanks, George.  You have had the results for weeks and now release it mid-summer and after a re-vote is called for.  Left wing liberal supporting Marxist SEBAC and giving them cover. Any apologizies fortthcoming from mouthpiece O’Connor?  Oh yeah,  socialists don’t have to apologize in this one party state.

posted by: skydogct | July 29, 2011  11:32am

Because there wasn’t any criminal activity doesn’t mean this anti-union, corporate fueled organization wasn’t involved in spreading dis-information. The Yankee Institute should celebrate the charge dismissal by having another “Lunch with a Felon” and invite all their collaborators.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | July 30, 2011  7:56am

SEBAC’s attempt to lay the blame for their ineptitude and dishonest bargaining practices falls flat, and at the hands of a Democratic AG no less.  Every mistep they take costs more jobs for their rank and file….they need to be held accountable, maybe the AG should investigate SEBAC, huh?

posted by: Terry D. Cowgill | July 30, 2011  9:03am

Terry D. Cowgill

@skydogct: Imagine that! An advocacy group “involved in spreading dis-information.” Using SEBAC’s standards, we’d have to prosecute half the think tanks in America.

SEBAC should be ashamed of itself—making wild charges, offering no proof and using up valuable time and resources in the AG’s office at a time when the state is broke.

posted by: CT Serf | July 31, 2011  12:18am

good for you fergus, you run a top rate group

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | July 31, 2011  6:40am

To “skydogct”

I;m no fan of the YAnkee Institute but if you want to point the fingers at anti union actions point no farther than SEBAC itself.  They’ve usurped the power from the rank and file and have become just another “boss” telling the rank and file what to do. SEBAC has turned the democratic union system on it’s head and we’re all worse for it.

posted by: NOW What? | August 1, 2011  3:53pm

Upon doing YEARS of research on the subject, I can honestly say that there are a *multitude* of right-wing organizations (and individuals) that are truly dedicated to the deconstruction of government, the gutting of government-provided and *especially* government-OPERATED services, the wholesale layoff of millions of government employees at *all* levels of government, the GUTTING of government employees’ medical insurance benefits coupled with jacking up employees’ “out-of-pocket” medical services’ and insurance-related costs, and the COMPLETE ELIMINATION of defined-benefit pensions.

These organizations and individuals are engaging in this “economic guerilla warfare” against the “middle class” in general and government employees in particular because by being successful in such endeavors THEY BENEFIT FINANCIALLY by doing so, both directly and indirectly. “Tea Party” adherents feed into these efforts, and The Yankee Institute is only one such organization. It publicly proclaims itself as such, and it publicly proclaims its position AGAINST ratification of the SEBAC TA as it knows that failure to ratify the TA will further its aims in these regards.

These “right-wing” efforts are proceeding not just in Connecticut, but throughout the U.S., in other countries as well, and indeed on an international scale. The increasing proliferation of international “free trade agreements” coupled with the increasing amount of truly international corporate and other business structures facilitates these efforts, while the LACK of truly international *labor* organizations makes it extremely difficult for us to “fight” effectively in this “economic guerilla warfare” being directed against us.

This is not some wild “conspiracy theory.” It is being increasingly elucidated with each succeeding piece of research on the subject, conducted by a multitude of universities and other socio-economic research organizations and “backed up” by socio-economic demographic data. It’s *real*, and FAR more “prove-able” than something such as “global warming.”

Having said this, and even knowing how easy it is for someone or an organization to “hack into” the State’s email system, I’m not necessarily convinced that the Yankee Institute did so. Given that there are at least a few state employees who have seemingly “dedicated” themselves to doing whatever they could to convince other employees to vote against ratification, it would be MUCH easier for an organization such as The Yankee Institute to simply “feed” disinformation to anti-ratification employees who would then spread the disinformation through the State’s email system etc. Direct “hacking” of the State’s email system is not necessary for The Yankee Institute to accomplish its goals.

At least for the moment, the BEST thing state employees can do to help fight against efforts to destroy them is to VOTE TO RATIFY THE SEBAC TA. This will need to be immediately followed by the development of a state-wide, coordinated strategy to help fight against the destruction of government, its services and employees, *coupled* with a concerted and organized effort on the part of state employees and their unions to identify and help eliminate sources of government waste in expenditures and hiring, and encouraging state government to do whatever it possibly can to help decrease the overall cost of living in Connecticut. If the citizens of Connecticut continue to be forced to spend all of their money on life’s day-to-day necessities, there’s simply NO WAY that they’ll be able to continue to afford to pay for state government as we know it.

posted by: skydogct | August 1, 2011  11:16pm

For those interested in learning more about the Yankee Institute and their agenda, the JI is doing an excellent series on who they are, and where they get their funding. It’s the kind of investigative reporting that the other large daily in this area used to be interested in before they were sucked up by large corporate interests.
The entities that fund the Yankee Institute have one goal in mind, to eliminate collective bargaining starting with public unions. They support a no vote for one reason; it erodes whatever public support state residents (voters) have left for state workers. Voting no is a vote for the end of collective bargaining for public unions, pure and simple. Call it whatever you want, but unless you wish to end collective bargaining for yourself and your co-workers, and there are many that do, than at least realize that as you cast your vote. If you wish to live to fight another day, than you have to vote yes. Most private sector unions have had to accept much less than you. But, they know once the economy improves, they can recoup some of their losses. You won’t have that chance.