My column today is about CT’s watchdog agencies and, specifically, about the Malloy administration’s very misguided efforts to put them under executive branch control. In the unlikely event that you wanted to know even more about this, you could listen to the show I did Monday. On the show Sen. John McKinney made a very effective case against the Malloy policy. He also reminded us all that he has been trying for some time to install legislative ethics in Connecticut. To a remarkable degree, there sort of aren’t any. This became abundantly clear in 2007, during the DeLuca mess and the establishment of the hapless Gumby Commission. And it still has not been fixed. I’m not sure that McKinney’s current bill, SB 589, would do the trick, but it is better than the current nothing.
That brings us to to K-Dogg’s excellent column today. It is difficult to imagine how any codification of legislative ethics could countenance the current state of things, especially as laid out in this column, especially in this passage:
Cafero is a partner in the Hartford office of Brown Rudnick. He is a salaried employee “with the possibility of an annual bonus,” according to a 2006 state ethics agency opinion…
Brown Rudnick is allowed to lobby him, and it takes advantage of Connecticut’s lax rules on legislators and their relationships with businesses.
It staggers the mind. Cafero is a legislative leader. He is also a partner in one of the biggest lobbying firms active at the Capitol. That firm is allowed to lobby him.
So lobbied, he does not have to recuse himself from debates or votes.
Note to birdbrain commenters: none of this is legitimately partisan. Larry is a Republican. Tommy Ritter is possibly the most influential Democrat of his generation in the General Assembly. They are both, on this score, disgustingly indifferent to best practices. And so it goes, up and down the line. Neither party has ever taken ethics seriously. It’s difficult to see how a strong McKnney ethics initiative would not put him on a collision course with Cafero. They’re probably on one anyway, if they both want to be governor.