Monday, January 19, 2009

Connecticut Politics

Censure For Sen. Gaffey
Shameful Misconduct • Mr. Gaffey, one of the chamber's leaders, ought to know better, yet the Senate has been silent

January 18, 2009

The Hartford Courant

There's no question state Sen. Thomas Gaffey is ethically impaired. Revelations about his fast-and-loose accounting and double-billing, and complications surrounding his romantic attachments have caused the Senate repeated embarrassments.

The question is what, if anything, the Senate intends to do about him.

Mr. Gaffey's accounting practices caused the latest problems. The State Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating apparent double-billing by the 50-year-old Democratic senator from about 2004 to 2007.

A review of state records by The Courant shows he billed his political action committee and the state several thousand dollars for the same hotel stays and legislative conferences. Although the state reimbursed him, Mr. Gaffey failed to repay his PAC.

In an interview with Courant reporters Jon Lender and Edmund Mahony, Mr. Gaffey said he was embarrassed, didn't mean to keep the extra money and has repaid his PAC "somewhere around $2,500 or $3,000" so far. Yet he admits he reviewed the accounts only after they were questioned in The Courant about a year ago.

In 2007, Courant columnist Kevin Rennie reported that Mr. Gaffey was having an affair with Jill Ferraiolo, a high-level legislative liaison for the Connecticut State University System. Mr. Gaffey failed to disclose that relationship when he, as a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, voted for a 10-year, $1 billion bonding package for CSUS, one of the largest in state history. He was also a member of the Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement, which oversees the state university system.

Mr. Gaffey's relationship with Ms. Ferraiolo was in clear conflict with his official duties. Yet, aside from a few public expressions of disappointment by Senate President Pro Tem Don Williams, Mr. Gaffey's misconduct has drawn no official reprimand from the Senate.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission's investigation is ongoing. But based on the evidence so far, Mr. Gaffey's conduct is clearly ripe for Senate censure.

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