The fallout from the guilty pleas by former state Senator Tom Gaffey on larceny charges have moved beyond Gaffey and to Senate President Donald Williams. Several members of the caucus and some senior staffers are quietly crumbling (hey never know; you could show up to work and find your parking spot has been moved to the Berlin Turnpike in Rocky Hill) about the way he addressed, or more accurately put, didn’t address the case.
Gaffey admitted that he was doubling billing for some legislative-related conferences and travel. He charged his political action committee and was then reimbursed by the state for the same expensive. A couple sitting senators told me this week that it’s yet another ethical black eye for the chamber that could have been avoided because Gaffey’s double-dipping practice was well-known and no one really questioned his guilt (as communications director for the Senate Democrats from 2001-2007, I had no dealings with Gaffey’s PAC money so I have no first-hand knowledge of his guilt or innocence).
Williams is in a bit of a tough situation here. How you walk the line of “innocent until proven guilty” while still maintain the integrity of the chamber? Williams’ approach seems to range from doing nothing to taking away leadership titles (and therefore income) to doing everything he can behind the scenes to get the senator in question to resign (Ernie Newton comes to mind).
State Sen. Ed Meyer (D-Guilford) has long been a champion of forming an ethics committee so the chamber can police itself. He’s right. This nonsense has to end. This no way to run a legislative session.