NOT SO FAST WITH THE BEATIFICATION OF GOV. RELL

The one thing the men who want to be the next governor of Connecticut agree on is that outgoing Gov. Jodi Rell is a nice person and was the “right person at the right time” to be governor in a sort of Gerald Ford-after-Richard Nixon way. Of course, both Democrat Dan Malloy and fellow Republican Tom Foley know it’s not smart to be overly critical of someone who has had an approval rating between 60- and 70-percent during her years in office.

But before we build a statue of her on the lawn of the Capitol, we should examine the record and realize that hers was an administration in which ethical lapses were endemic. The Shad readily admits that much, if not all, of the problems belong right at the feet of Chief of Staff—and boss of intimidation—Lisa Moody. But Rell’s unwillingness or inability to rein her in means that ultimately, Rell is responsible.

The latest reminder of the Rell administration’s ethical problems comes from a new report from UConn’s Office of Audit, Compliance and Ethics. The Day of New London’s Ted Mann reports UConn professor Kenneth Dautrich’s work for Rell on a poll used state resources, including the paid working hours of two of Dautrich’s graduate students, for “partisan political activities.”

Mann, whose reporting led the way on this story, writes, “The report follows a yearlong investigation of Dautrich’s work for Rell and her administration, which began with a taxpayer-funded project to analyze the state budget in search of savings. But the project’s scope grew significantly, out of the eyes of legislators and the general public, as Dautrich provided Rell and her powerful chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody, with political advice and suggestions for a possible run for re-election.”

The fact that an UConn professor, paid by taxpayers of the state, was involved in all this is yet another demonstration of malfeasance at the university but that’s another story for another Hanging Shad entry soon to come.

But add this report to the fact that Lisa Moody used the governor’s office to shakedown department heads for donations to Rell’s campaign coffers (and was slapped on the wrist for it) and that Moody claimed under oath that she never read an ethics memo that later was discovered and showed that she actually edited the document and you have an unethical administration that will somehow get accolades going out the door.

The Rell administration’s honest legacy is “I wasn’t John Rowland.” A very low bar indeed.