Slimy Connecticut Officials, lack of ethics
| Permalink, The Hartford Courant
Former Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board Chairman G. Kenneth Bernhard, of Westport, has agreed to pay a $3,500 fine for making three prohibited political contributions while serving as a board member, the Office of State Ethics announced Friday.
The fine was agreed to in a settlement of a case involving three political contributions totaling $250 by Bernhard in 2008, including two to state legislative candidates and one to Gov M. Jodi Rell's exploratory campaign committee.
Bernhard, a lawyer and former Republican state legislator, resigned from the board March 4, shortly after The Courant disclosed he had made the donations, which members of the ethics board and the staff of the state ethics office are not allowed to make to anyone who is subject to the group of state laws known as the Code of Ethics for Public Officials.
To maintain impartiality in the investigation of their former colleague, members of the ethics board in late March approved spending up to $10,000 for an outside attorney, Jill Hartley of Hartford, to look into the three contributions. Friday's annnouncement of the settlement was the result of her work.
Bernhard has said he was unaware that state laws prohibit ethics board members from making campaign contibutions when he made three adding up to $250 in 2008. At the time, he was he was on the board but not yet chairman. The donations included one for $100 to the committee of Rell, and two to GOP state legislative candidates, one of them Bernhard's law partner.
Rell has said that Bernhard "made the appropriate decision" by resigning.
When Bernhard quit, he said he board's work would be impeded by the continuing controversy over the contributions. Bernhard said from the beginning that he expected to be fined for the violations but called them "technical," "inadvertent," and "not conduct which can be characterized as unethical."
According to Friday's announcement, Bernhard settled without admission of guilt and stated in the written settlement that he had no knowledge that the contributions, made in his private capacity, might constituted a violation of the Ethics Code. He further stated he received no personal gain from making the contributions.
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