Tom Foley is not giving up.
After clashing with legislators during a public hearing last week, Foley strongly reiterated his stance Tuesday that there is institutional corruption in Hartford as legislators hold jobs that he says have a clear conflict of interest.
Foley was sharply criticized by three House Republicans who said his proposal was so far-reaching that it would prevent as many as half the legislators from serving because of Foley’s definition of a conflict of interest. But Foley said that those legislators may have misunderstood his bill, which he said is much more narrow that they had believed.
“A lot of the members of the committee may not have read it or understood it,” Foley said, adding that some legislators “didn’t know what the bill actually said.”
He says flatly that legislators should not be allowed to serve in Hartford if they are paid more than $1,000 per year for working for a state contractor, a public employees union, or a lobbying firm. The bill would not prohibit being a union member – just being an employee who is paid by the union.
“There should be a presumption that income given to a legislator is to influence public acts,” Foley told Capitol Watch on Tuesday. “Guess what? That’s a bribe. That’s a bribe under federal law.”
He added, “The problem is these things are masked as jobs. It’s a bribe.”
Foley is pushing for a vote on his bill during a meeting this Friday of the Government Administration and Elections Committee at the Capitol complex. He said he has called the two Democratic co-chairmen, Sen. Anthony Musto of Trumbull and Rep. Edward Jutila of Niantic, but he said he had not heard back from either of them by Tuesday afternoon.
Both Republicans and Democrats blasted Foley’s bill, saying the language was so broadly written that it would affect any family members of legislators who worked for FedEx, Yale University or Aetna because those corporations employ lobbyists at the Capitol. But Foley says that was never the intent of his bill.
Legislators were upset because Foley said the conflicts of interest were “sleazy,” adding that “the foxes are running the henhouse” at the Capitol.
“It’s good law,” Foley said. “It’s badly needed.”
Foley added that legislators have been spending an inordinate amount of time on the gun control legislation that is scheduled for a vote Wednesday. Instead, he said they should be talking about Malloy’s proposed two-year budget.
“They are trying to stretch out the gun discussion so they don’t have to talk about the budget,” Foley told Capitol Watch. “They’re purposely not talking about it. It’s not a pleasant conversation. They don’t want to talk about it.”
Foley is a former Republican nominee for governor who won 128 of the state’s 169 municipalities before losing in 2010 to Democrat Dannel P. Malloy by less than 1 percentage point in the closest election for governor of Connecticut in more than 50 years.