The Day – Can Lamont contain State Pier corruption until the fall election?

Gov. Ned Lamont has been very successful putting fat fingers in the dike holding back the corruption surrounding the federal State Pier, from granting the management contract to a politically connected competing port operator to a investigation into spending on the cost-spiraling $235 million port remake.

He’s used just about every tool in the chest, from offering hush money to keep employees at the Connecticut Port Authority, managers of the pier, from talking to the news media to fitting a fiscal straightjacket on the state watchdog agency that has raised serious red flags about the pier deals.

The governor, no doubt seeing the corruption scandals clouding his reelection bid, chose as his top lawyer a woman not so much skilled in good government practices but rather one with a long resume in corruption prosecution.

The federal investigation already has emptied a top tier of officials in the governor’s administration, one resignation splash after another in the wake of the SS Lamont, as it steams through troubled waters to reelection.

Never mind what the grand jury may uncover, it’s hurry-hurry, finish spending the money at the pier from contracts still being investigated.

And the folks who are the recipients of all that Lamont largesse? Well, the rich utilities that are getting the state-subsidized remake of the pier are responding with a lavish advertising campaign hailing the project.

The utilities’ ads might as well finish with a tag line, reelect Ned Lamont, the governor who never met a utility executive he wasn’t willing to subsidize at taxpayer expense. Wait until Connecticut ratepayers start getting their monthly bills for offshore wind electricity. They won’t know until then how much it is all going to cost, even though Lamont’s team has already signed off on the higher electric rates.

Attorney General William Tong, an intensely loyal Democrat, has buried in plain sight his claimed investigation — now some two years old — into a whistleblower’s complaint about a $500,000 “success fee” paid to the company that employed a former port authority board member.

Talk about bad optics. But it appears to be business as usual in Lamont’s Connecticut.

And then this past week, sadly, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission unanimously ruled, without a moment of discussion, to allow the attorney general to withhold three whistleblower complaints about State Pier from the public.

The commission found that since the state whistleblower law protects the name of the whistleblower from disclosure — the law doesn’t block release of the actual whistleblower complaint — that the complaints should not be made public because it might then be possible to guess who made it .

I know. It’s absurd and a dangerous precedent.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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