House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey came to the defense of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy regarding his weekend trip to a high-profile dinner in Washington, D.C. that was paid by People Magazine.
Senate Republican leader John McKinney charged Wednesday that it was a clear violation of the state’s ethics laws for a major corporation to pay for Malloy’s travel expenses for a trip to the White House Correspondents Association dinner.
“I think people make a big deal out of these things just because it’s there – maybe because they think it looks bad,” Sharkey told reporters in the historic Hall of the House.
Sharkey said that it should not be an issue “unless People magazine is somehow lobbying the state of Connecticut” on issues.
When told by reporters that Time Warner Inc. owns People magazine and the magazine belongs to an association that has a Connecticut lobbyist, Sharkey said, “OK. That’s news to me, but I’m also not sure how their payment of that expense inures to the benefit of the governor, per se. I don’t know. I’m sure that if there’s anything that maybe should be reviewed, the governor would be more than willing to reimburse the expense. I mean I don’t think that’s really what it’s about. Generally speaking, I think it’s a good thing to have the governor out, seen on a national stage, promoting the state of Connecticut.”
When told that McKinney said it was a clear violation of the state’s ethics laws and that Malloy should give the money back, Sharkey said, “I’d like to see more evidence of that. I don’t really have a response to that because I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
When asked by an online reporter if state had benefitted from the governor going to the dinner, Sharkey said, “I think that certainly the state was not hurt by the governor going to the dinner. There were no taxpayers’ dollars spent.”
Before any discussion of McKinney’s concerns, Sharkey said, “I don’t know what the problem is, frankly, with seeing the governor active and out outside the state, promoting our state in a positive way. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I think it’s a good thing.”