Democrat Ned Lamont’s gubernatorial campaign is offering residents of Stamford and Connecticut in general a trip down memory lane in a recent television ad against former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy.
The recently-retired Malloy is the party’s nominee for governor and he and Lamont will face-off in a primary on August 10. With the polls tightening, the two candidates have been escalating their attacks on one another. It was only a matter of time before Lamont re-visited the investigation, launched in late 2003, of whether Malloy awarded city jobs to contractors who worked on his home.
In an ad launched today (can’t provide a link ’cause it’s not on the web) Lamont features footage of Malloy promising to clean up government, then flashes headlines from The Stamford Advocate and The Hartford Courant about the probe and accuses then-Mayor Malloy of fostering “a climate of corruption.”
Malloy was cleared of wrong doing by Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano in May 2005 while pursuing the Democratic nomination for governor for the first time. He won the nomination but lost the primary to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.
For those of you who are interested, here are some articles The Stamford Advocate ran at the time. This is in no way presented to defend Malloy, who has been running some pretty tough ads about Lamont. All’s fare in love and political war, Dan.
But these articles will help fill in the details left out of Lamont’s ad:
1. An early report about some of the details of the investigation, published October 23, 2004:
By Louis Porter
STAMFORD – State anti-corruption officials are examining city contracts in the wake of Republican criticism of Mayor Dannel Malloy for accepting contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from bidders.
The public integrity investigators of the chief state’s attorney’s office have asked in the last several weeks for requests for proposals and contracts, according to officials.
“I think they are looking at all RFPs, policies and contracts,” Malloy said. The contracts come from many areas of city government, he said.
“I don’t have any problem with it. In fact, I support it. I believe they should do it on a regular basis,” Malloy said. “As a former prosecutor who cares about these kind of issues, I think it is a good thing.”
Contracts must be signed off by the mayor after approval by city boards.
The inquiry by the state comes after several federal corruption probes that have brought down former Gov. John Rowland, the mayors of Waterbury and Bridgeport and the former state treasurer.
Malloy said no federal investigators are involved in the inquiry.
Among the contractors apparently being looked at is AFB Construction Management of Trumbull Inc., the company that manages the city’s schools, parks and other buildings, officials said.
Alfonso Barbarotta, president of the company, said he knows the request for documents were made by the state, but does not know the details. “I haven’t talked to anybody,” he said.
Malloy and Schools Superintendent Anthony Mazzullo acknowledged requests from state investigators for documents relating to many contracts.
“They have asked us, through the Freedom of Information Act, for contracts and a number of supporting documents,” Mazzullo said.
Mark Dupuis, a spokesman chief state’s attorney’s office, declined to comment.
Among the other areas the state is looking at are the management contracts for Smith House, the city-owned nursing home, and the management of the cafeteria at the Stamford Government Center, Malloy said. In both cases, the city put the contracts out to bid again after city Republicans raised questions about bidders’ contributions to Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign.
In the case of Smith House, employees of Haven Healthcare Management LLC, which has been managing Smith House, held a fund-raiser for Malloy’s campaign for governor. Estimates of the amount given to Malloy by those associated with the company ranged from $19,000 to $31,550.
George Moschos, owner of the Patio Cafe Corp., which operates the cafeteria, gave Malloy $2,250 for his campaign.
Patio Cafe Corp. and Haven Healthcare had been on track to get the new contracts.
Republican Board of Finance member Joseph Tarzia, a critic of the bidding process and longtime nemesis of Malloy, said the decision to rebid the contracts is suspiciously close to the start of the state inquiry.
But Malloy said they were not put out to bid again because of the investigation. “I have rebid contracts in the past on numerous occasions, including at Joe Tarzia’s request,” Malloy said. “It was consistent with that and not with anything else.”
Tarzia declined to say whether he talked to investigators.
“I wouldn’t want to jeopardize any ongoing investigation by the federal or state authorities,” he said.
Malloy said recent newspaper stories on the disagreement over the Smith House and Patio Cafe contracts probably spurred the state inquiry.
James Rubino, a Republican Board of Finance member and a candidate for the state House, said, “Given the press coverage of the contract bidding irregularities, I am surprised it took so long for the state government to become involved.”
Malloy, 49, who is in his third term as mayor, defended his administration’s record. The city has the best purchasing ordinances and operation in the state, Malloy said.
“If (Stamford’s system) had been used by others, including the state government, we wouldn’t have had some of the difficulties we have had,” Malloy said.
2. A report about investigators turning their attention to work done on Malloy’s house, published Oct. 26, 2004:
By Louis Porter
STAMFORD – With a state investigation into city contracts under way, builders and city employees who worked on Mayor Dannel Malloy’s house in Shippan are coming under scrutiny.
Investigators in the public integrity unit of the chief state’s attorney’s office are asking whether contractors who helped Malloy renovate a 120-year-old barn into a home in the 1990s got preferential treatment in the awarding of city contracts, sources said.
“They can look at anything they want,” Malloy said about the work on his house, which cost several hundred thousand dollars. “Anyone who did work on the house was paid for the work.”
He has canceled checks for all of the work, Malloy said.
Antonio Vitti, who did stone work on the property, said yesterday he was paid by Malloy at his usual rates. Vitti said he has bid on and performed work for the city for decades.
“I have worked for every administration for 35 years,” Vitti said.
His work on the mayor’s Ocean Drive East house did not affect his chances of getting city work, said Vitti, who also does road and drainage jobs.
“If you are low bidder, you get it. If you are not low bidder, you don’t get it,” said Vitti, who also does work for the town of Greenwich.
Malloy said he does not get involved in bidding.
“You shouldn’t be treated favorable if you have done work for the mayor, and you shouldn’t be disqualified if you have done work for the mayor,” he said.
Although state investigators have not asked him about it, he welcomes the scrutiny if they do, Malloy said.
“The building of my house was probably the most public building of a house in Stamford history,” he said, pointing to past newspaper reports about the renovation, which was done over several years in the late 1990s.
Stamford Fire and Rescue Chief Robert McGrath did heating and air-conditioning duct work on Malloy’s house. McGrath was paid at regular rates, and the work did not have anything to do with his advancement to assistant chief and later chief, McGrath and Malloy said.
McGrath said he had a heating and air-conditioning business when he was working as a firefighter. He stopped doing contracting work when he was promoted and began working regular hours instead of a firefighter’s three days on, three days off, he said.
“I did a lot of work in Stamford,” said McGrath, who also did jobs for several of Malloy’s brothers.
A state investigation into city and Board of Education contracts and requests for proposals became public this week. Investigators requested paperwork on 200 contracts over five years.
Many of the documents requested by the state relate to school construction projects, several of which are overseen by AFB Construction Management of Trumbull Inc. The scope of work at the schools has increased, and some have questioned AFB’s role in the capital projects.
One of the contractors who did work on the mayor’s house, Rick Shapter, owner of Shapter Construction, told The Associated Press he dealt with Marc Lyons, a friend of Malloy who was involved in the work on the mayor’s house. Shapter said he did about $100,000 worth of work on the mayor’s house and was paid in full.
“I charged him the same as I charged anybody,” Shapter told the AP. “I didn’t give him breaks because he was the mayor.”
Shapter said Lyons later arranged work for him at city high schools through AFB.
AFB President Alfonso Barbarotta said Lyons is his longtime friend from college who suggested he come to Stamford after seeing the work he did managing schools in Trumbull.
Lyons began as a construction manager at Stamford High School and later became manager of city and school facilities.
Officials from the chief state’s attorney’s office declined to comment on possible investigations.
3. A report about Malloy turning over documents as part of the probe, published Nov. 2, 2004:
By Louis Porter
STAMFORD – Mayor Dannel Malloy yesterday met with two investigators from the chief state’s attorney’s office to address questions that have been raised by a state probe into the renovation of his Shippan house and how city contracts are awarded.
Malloy, who requested the meeting, said he wants the questions settled as quickly as possible.
The public integrity unit of the state’s attorney’s office initiated an investigation into city contracts several weeks ago. As part of the inquiry, investigators asked for a list of every request for proposal and contract from the city and Board of Education for the past five years.
They then asked for and received specific documents from those files, including contracts and RFPs.
Yesterday he delivered to state investigators all of the canceled checks and documents from work done on the 120-year-old barn he rebuilt on Ocean Drive East in Shippan, Malloy said. The work was done in the late 1990s and Malloy lives there with his family.
Questions have been raised about whether the contractors who worked on the house were properly paid or received something from the city in return.
One contractor has said Malloy’s brother, Kevin Malloy, asked for a reduced bill in exchange for a lower interest rate on taxes owed to the city. The contractor did not receive a reduction.
Malloy said the documents he provided demonstrate that he paid everybody who worked on the house at market rates.
In yesterday’s meeting, investigators seemed eager to resolve the questions, Malloy said.
“I had the impression they want to get through this as rapidly as it can be done,” Malloy said. The investigation is difficult and takes its toll politically and personally, he acknowledged.
Malloy is running for governor in 2006. A mayoral election in the city will be held next year. Malloy has said he will announce in January whether he will run again for mayor.
In a statement issued yesterday, Malloy quoted one of his most strident critics, Republican Board of Finance member Joseph Tarzia.
After an internal review of the Purchasing Department this year, Tarzia, chairman of the Board of Finance Audit Committee, and the rest of the board praised the way the department was run, Malloy pointed out in the statement.
But Tarzia said the mayor’s comment is “a smokescreen.”
“There is a difference between what the purchasing agent is doing and what the mayor is doing,” Tarzia said.
The purchasing agent, Robert Ruszkowski, has done a good job but has limited power, Tarzia said.
Ruszkowski has been in the job for only a couple of years, Tarzia said, and the Malloy administration has reduced controls over city purchasing.
Malloy “dismantled the internal audit department,” Tarzia said.
The audit of the Purchasing Department shows that the city contracts are in order, Malloy said.
“We have one unified purchasing operation in the city,” he said.
An official from the office of the chief state’s attorney did not return calls yesterday. The office has declined to comment on the investigation.
4. A report about Malloy being cleared by Morano, published May 6, 2005:
By Donna Porstner
STAMFORD – The chief state’s attorney has cleared Mayor Dannel Malloy of any criminal wrongdoing in its corruption investigation of city hall.
“I have today directed that this investigation be closed and that no further action be taken by this office regarding this matter at this time,” Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano said in a statement yesterday.
Eight investigators interviewed more than 100 witnesses and examined thousands of documents during the investigation, Morano said in a letter to Malloy yesterday.
“After comparing the original allegations to all of the materials, witness interviews and any ancillary claims or allegations that arose during the course of the investigation, it is the recommendation of the investigators and prosecutors who worked on this matter that no credible evidence of criminal wrongdoing has been uncovered,” Morano wrote.
Malloy, a Democrat who has been mayor for 10 years and is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, said he knew all along he would be vindicated and was praying the results of the investigation would be released quickly.
“I’m pretty darn happy, to tell you the truth,” he said. “It’s been very difficult for my wife, Cathy, and my three sons.”
After hearing the news, he visited his wife at her office, then stopped home to take a run, walk his dog and gather his thoughts, Malloy said.
“I needed to get rid of some nervous energy,” he said.
Malloy returned to the government center in the afternoon to field questions from reporters. In a state where former Gov. John Rowland, the former mayors of Bridgeport and Waterbury, and the state treasurer have been sent to prison for corruption, Malloy is the first to come clean in a probe in recent years.
Investigators were looking into whether Malloy used his influence to award city jobs to contractors who worked on his home in the late 1990s.
Shortly after the allegations were made public last fall, Malloy produced canceled checks totaling $506,000 for his home renovation projects.
The state investigation began in December 2003, according to Morano’s letter, but was made public in October.
It is unknown who made the allegations.
Malloy’s supporters have their suspicions but have not fingered anyone.
“Locally, people have known for months that this has been a political hatchet job,” said state Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, a political ally and close friend of the mayor.
City Rep. Richard Lyons II, D-1, who months ago called for Malloy’s accuser to step forward, said whoever it was “tried to tear apart a man who has dedicated almost his entire adult life to public service and his family” and sent the chief state’s attorney’s office on a “goose chase.”
Malloy said he doesn’t know who was behind the allegations.
“I don’t dwell on that,” he said.
Lyons said Republicans blew the investigation out of proportion, throwing around such words as “corruption” and “kickbacks.”
“It’s not like there is any fire. There isn’t any smoke – not even a match,” Lyons said. “I hope this a lesson to both sides of the aisle in this city before they lob all sorts of allegations.”
Regardless of the outcome, Republican Town Committee Chairman Daniel McCabe said it is a sad state of affairs when the city is investigated for corruption.
“I certainly wouldn’t consider it a badge of honor that something that intense and dramatic had to take place in the city of Stamford,” McCabe said. “I would say, overall, it was an embarrassing event.”
Malloy’s biggest political nemesis, Joseph Tarzia, a Republican member of the Board of Finance, did not return phone calls yesterday.
Another Malloy critic, James Rubino, another Republican on the finance board, said he is happy for the mayor and his family.
Once it became known that Malloy was under investigation, his fund-raising for the 2006 governor’s race ground to a halt. His war chest has been stuck at $1 million for months, while two other contenders for the Democratic nomination – New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz – have continued to raise money. As of the last campaign filing deadline in April, DeStefano was in the lead with $1.8 million; Bysiewicz had $1.5 million.
Malloy said he doesn’t regret his decision to stop raising money.
“I don’t second-guess that decision,” he said. “I think I had to show that I honored the process and that I took it seriously.”
Malloy said he plans to start raising money for the governor’s race immediately, though he does not have any fund-raisers planned. He also plans to file a campaign committee that will allow him to raise money for the mayoral election in November.
“There is certainly no reason not to,” he said.
Malloy took a break from interviews yesterday afternoon to share a champagne toast with city managers who gathered in his conference room to congratulate him.
Cathy Malloy said she was emotional as she made her way to city hall to join the celebration.
“I’m just fixing all my eye makeup because I’ve been crying all morning,” she said. “We always had the confidence that it was going to be fine, but having said that, it’s still tough to go through.”
Malloy said the investigation was hardest on their sons.
“The kids had a really rough time. They really had a difficult year,” she said. “Politicians still really get a bad rap and, in my kids’ life, they haven’t met a politician that hasn’t been a good role model. Some of the negative attitudes toward politicians in this country is not something they relate to.”
Malloy said she is proud of how her husband handled the scrutiny.
“He just kept moving forward. He answered every question. He was incredibly honest,” she said. “He was just upbeat, positive, through the whole thing.”
Dannel Malloy said he didn’t worry about his reputation in Stamford, where he was born and raised and has been active in politics for more than 20 years. He said he was “deeply moved” by the support he received.
“I couldn’t walk to lunch or go to church without people I didn’t know giving me words of encouragement,” Malloy said.
He said he worried about how the investigation colored the perceptions of voters upstate.
“It’s hard because you always worry about what people think who don’t know you,” he said.
Supporters say Malloy will be viewed as stronger for emerging from the investigation unscathed.
“There’s not another candidate for public office that has received such a clean bill of health,” McDonald said. “Dan has seen the darkest underbelly of politics and he has survived that, and he is stronger and a better person now.”
Democratic City Committee Chairwoman Ellen Camhi said Morano’s letter to Malloy is a glowing endorsement.
“It’s so clean and so positive,” she said. “It’s as good as it gets.”
Malloy said few politicians could be put through that scrutiny and come out clean.
“When people look back on it and how I conducted myself, I think they’ll be pretty darn impressed,” he said.
5. The full statement issued by Morano about the case, published May 6, 2005:
In December 2003, the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney received information alleging possible improprieties in the City of Stamford, and, in particular, claims of wrongful conduct on the part of the Mayor of Stamford. The Office of the Chief State’s Attorney initiated an investigation into these allegations in accordance with our constitutional and statutory responsibilities.
The Mayor of Stamford cooperated fully and voluntarily with the investigation. The Mayor provided volumes of personal finance information, which without this voluntary cooperation may not have been available to the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney under existing state law. The Mayor voluntarily met with representatives of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, even before being asked to do so.
I have today directed that this investigation be closed and that no further action be taken by this Office regarding this matter at this time. The investigators and prosecutors who have conducted this investigation have concluded that there is no credible evidence of criminal wrongdoing, and that, based on the facts known to this office at this time, probable cause does not exist for any criminal violations.
At no time did the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney publicly acknowledge the existence of this investigation or publicly comment on the conduct of this investigation. However, some nine months after initiation of the investigation, its existence became publicly known through other means. In light of this fact, the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney believes it is in the interests of justice to publicly disclose our conclusion in this matter.
6. A report about the impact the scandal might have on Malloy’s gubernatorial prospects at the time, published May 6, 2005:
By Tobin A. Coleman
HARTFORD – The corruption investigation is behind him, but Mayor Dannel Malloy’s statewide prospects remain uncertain, top Democrats and some Republican leaders said yesterday.
The strongly worded letter from Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano exonerating Malloy would allow him to move forward in his gubernatorial campaign, they said.
But with former Gov. John Rowland and former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim in jail on corruption charges, and others convicted or under investigation, some said the political climate would make it difficult for Malloy to regain a clean image.
The 16-month state investigation probed whether contractors who worked at Malloy’s home received favoritism in city contracts.
Some said Democratic opponents for the 2006 gubernatorial nomination would surely bring up the investigation but not the exoneration. Others said Democrats probably would lay off, but if Malloy were the nominee, a Republican opponent would certainly mention the investigation.
The same is true, they said, for Malloy’s expected run for re-election as mayor this year, which he announced unofficially this week.
“Anybody who knew Dan knew that there was almost certainly nothing to this,” Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan, a Democrat, said in an interview in his office.
“It has cost him time, it has cost him focus in terms of the gubernatorial campaign,” he said. “On the other hand, I think it will probably serve him well in the mayoral campaign because I suspect there’s going to be a very strong desire to show validation for him in that election.”
Sullivan said the convictions of Rowland and Ganim and others, including former Treasurer Paul Silvester and former Waterbury Mayor Phil Giordano, have made it a “dirty era” in state politics.
“Sometimes people who do bad things don’t get held accountable and sometimes people who don’t do bad things suddenly face themselves on the other side of a nasty television ad that recounts charges that were never, ever, ever made to stick,” Sullivan said.
Malloy said although he has suspended fund raising for his run for governor, he has not stopped campaigning, visiting 47 Democratic city and town committees across the state, and sending out letters.
He acknowledged that he has gone from the top fund-raiser, at more than $1 million, to “being among a group of candidates.” But Malloy said his campaign for the 2006 nomination will continue, even as he runs for re-election as mayor this year.
Malloy said other candidates for governor can “twist all they want” the circumstances of the investigation and exoneration. “If they do, they should submit themselves to the same level of scrutiny I have,” he said.
Many Democrats said all eyes are on Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Greenwich and his potential gubernatorial campaign.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, both Democrats, are the only other major-party candidates running for governor. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell has yet to make an announcement about her plans.
Blumenthal, who yesterday said he will make an announcement when the time is right, said he doesn’t know what effect Morano’s letter will have on Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign.
“Letters clearing an individual of wrongful conduct are very rare, I can tell you as a former prosecutor,” said Blumenthal, for years a Stamford Democrat like Malloy. “So this one should have strong significance. I can’t speculate as to the political ramifications.”
Former Speaker of the House Moira Lyons of Stamford said Morano’s letter sends a strong message to voters that Malloy is a clean politician. Now, she said, Malloy will have to make smart decisions to revive his fund-raising operation and get back into the good graces of voters.
“Traveling around the state, people mentioned they had been very impressed with Dan and impressed with his prospects,” Lyons said in a phone interview. “But because of this shadow, if not cleared, they would be very hesitant to be supporting someone, given all that happened in Connecticut with the (former) governor and all the other mayors. . . . He’s got to do a lot of catch-up, now that his name has been totally cleared, and once again build his networking and his fund-raising capacity.”
George Jepsen, immediate past chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee and former Senate majority leader from Stamford, said Malloy has the appeal and political savvy to close any gap between him and the other candidates.
“It’s a full green light” for Malloy to continue his campaign, Jepsen said. Jepsen, who has announced a run for secretary of the state, said Malloy has been making a “positive, forceful impression” traveling in the state. Jepsen said he’s not sure how much the scandal has hurt Malloy.
“No one’s been able to capitalize and become the front runner in Dan’s absence, lets put it that way,” Jepsen said. “Dan’s an immensely attractive candidate. He’s funny. He has a great sense of humor. He has a good story to tell, the Stamford story, which is a good one, and he’s a proven and strong executive manager.”
In 2002, Jepsen ran for governor and eventually became the running mate of Bill Curry, his former foe for the nomination, who lost to Rowland.
Curry yesterday said he has just begun thinking again about a possible run for state office. In that context, Curry said it is hard for him to say whether he believes Malloy can garner the nomination.
“The public’s been through a lot,” Curry said. “On the whole, they prefer that elected officials not be having private economic relations with government contractors. And so in another era, even that of a few years ago, it might not have mattered. Today I’m just not sure.”
DeStefano said in an interview he “welcomes Dan back into the race” and said voters will have to decide whether they can put any questions about Malloy behind them.
Bysiewicz issued a statement congratulating Malloy, saying it is “heartening to know that we are not dealing with further corruption.” She said she is “confident that our Democratic candidates for governor can refocus our state on issues that affect our citizens and our families, moving us forward again in a positive direction.”
Greenwich Republican state Sen. William Nickerson, who also represents parts of Stamford and New Canaan, said he thought Morano’s letter was clear in closing the door on the investigation of Malloy.
“I should think voters would look at it the same way,” said Nickerson, who supports Rell for re-election.
But Republican State Central Committee Chairman William Hamzy, also a state representative from Plymouth, said voters still might not think Malloy had the best judgment.
“The fact that he had city contractors do work on his own residence, I think that hurts him, even if it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal conduct,” Hamzy said.
7. A report on Morano’s clearing of a contractor involved in the same probe, published May 10, 2005.
By Vesna Jaksic
STAMFORD – Besides Mayor Dannel Malloy, the chief state’s attorney last week also cleared AFB Construction Management of wrongdoing in an investigation into whether city contracts were steered toward certain companies.
Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano concluded there was no evidence of misconduct by the Bridgeport company, which contracts with the city to maintain 72 city buildings, 52 parks, 20 public schools and three beaches.
The investigation was expected to examine the connection between Marc Lyons of Stamford, a Malloy family friend who worked on the mayor’s home renovation, and AFB President and Chief Executive Officer Alfonso Barbarotta. Lyons knew Barbarotta from college and said he helped him get started on projects in Stamford.
Barbarotta said yesterday he is relieved since learning Thursday that the investigation found no contract-steering.
“I was relieved and my wife and everyone I work with was very excited,” he said. “This has been very taxing on us. This investigation was going on for 18 months and to hear we were 100 percent innocent was very exciting.”
Since December 2003, up to eight investigators interviewed about 100 witnesses and examined thousands of documents to determine whether Malloy awarded city contracts to companies that renovated his home in the late 1990s. When the investigation became public in October, Malloy provided canceled checks indicating he paid $506,000 for the renovations and denied allegations of contract-steering.
In a letter Thursday to David Atkins, Barbarotta’s Bridgeport attorney, Morano stated why he concluded the investigation.
“After comparing the original allegations to all of the materials, witness interviews, and any ancillary claims or allegations that arose during the course of the investigation, it is the recommendation of the investigators and prosecutors who worked on this matter that no credible evidence of criminal wrongdoing has been uncovered and that based on the facts known to this office at this time, probable cause for any criminal violation does not exist,” Morano wrote, using the same language in a letter to Malloy.
Barbarotta said the media coverage cost AFB several job interviews and contracts that could have been worth millions of dollars. The company, which employs 19 full-time and several part-time workers, issued a statement yesterday announcing the end of the investigation and thanking supporters.
Lyons said he was glad to put the investigation behind him.
“I was embarrassed seeing every week my name in the paper saying I did this and I did that and it was false,” said Lyons, who runs Marc Lyons Construction of Stamford. “It would be just nice to clear the air. I thought the report was great because it said what I knew – that Dan Malloy is a great mayor and runs a great city.”
A call to Morano’s office was not returned yesterday.
Malloy said he knew AFB did not do anything wrong.
“I knew these were honest and hard-working people who have done an unbelievable job for the school system and the city and for people who they serve,” he said. “So obviously I’m very happy for them. I always had confidence in them. . . . It was unfair (that they had to be investigated), but obviously it has a better ending than it might otherwise.”
8. A report about allegations that Morano was pressured to conclude his investigation by Malloy’s political ally and friend, state Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee. This was published May 1, 2006:
By Tobin A. Coleman
HARTFORD – Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano yesterday said there is nothing to speculation that state Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, tried to influence him during an investigation into whether contractors who worked on Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy’s house received preferential treatment for city work.
Morano cleared Malloy in May 2005 of any wrongdoing, writing a letter saying he found no evidence that anything illegal had been done and remarking that Malloy had provided documents his office might not have been able to obtain if Malloy had not cooperated.
Malloy suspended his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor for about seven months due to the probe.
Morano said the description of a phone call between he and McDonald, in an opinion column in The Hartford Courant yesterday, is misleading in suggesting that McDonald, co-chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, tried to influence the investigation or have it sped up because it was affecting Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign fundraising.
“In no way did I feel he was trying to influence or intimidate myself or the office,” Morano said in a telephone interview. “It was really more a comment on process and recognizing we had to do our job and hoping it didn’t become prolonged. What’s most important is in no way did I feel I was being put under any pressure.”
McDonald and Morano have different recollections of the conversation but the same conclusion. McDonald said he remembers the conversation as taking place during a meeting the two had in the Legislative Office Building in the Capitol complex over pending legislation that was before McDonald’s committee. Morano remembers the conversation as part of a telephone call that included several other topics and that the discussion about the investigation was not the main focus.
Both men say that early in the investigation, McDonald told Morano about his relationship with Malloy: that he had served as chairman of Malloy’s campaigns for mayor, that Malloy was one of his closet friends and that he was working for Malloy’s campaign for governor. Morano said he told McDonald he had not known that.
The two men speak frequently. McDonald’s committee writes all of the state’s criminal laws, and he and Morano often work on new legislation together. McDonald said he felt uncomfortable having discussions about anything with Morano during the investigation because of the possible appearance of a conflict of interest, but he was assured that the chief state’s attorney saw no conflict in the two discussing legislation. Morano confirmed that conversation.
McDonald said after the investigation was concluded, “I did say to him that the investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice did not dedicate the resources necessary to conclude the investigation in a timely manner.” Morano recalls that conversation as well.
“I think he might have teased me about the length of time it took, but nothing that was threatening or anything. More like, ÔFinally.’ More jokingly,” Morano said.
Republicans in the state House of Representatives during an unusual Sunday session to vote on the state budget suggested they might make an issue of the conversations between McDonald and Morano.
Malloy said yesterday he does not believe Republicans are dredging up the issue again in an attempt to tarnish him.
“People can talk about the politics of Hartford,” Malloy said. “Frankly, I think people are tired of the politics of the state Capitol by now. I’m confident that nothing untoward was done and I move on.”