Rell administration withholding documents on DOT Chief’s departure

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now…

Last month, following revelations that Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie was told to resign over unspecified allegations of inappropriate behavior, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the governor’s office.

We specifically sought “any written complaints/concerns about the conduct/performance (of Marie) submitted to/documented by Governor M. Jodi Rell and/or staff in her administration between July 1, 2009 and the present.”

Marie resigned suddenly after only two years on the job, and he and Rell at the time claimed it was to spend more time with his family and seek other employment opportunities.

But a few days later the administration revealed that Rell’s attorney reviewed an unspecified complaint against Marie, lodged by someone representing a state employee, and that the governor subsequently sought his voluntary resignation. No formal complaint was filed or an official investigation conducted, even though state statutes outline such a process.

Marie subsequently denied any wrongdoing and said he was pressured to go and never told what Rell had concluded he was guilty of. He has since lawyered-up.

We hoped through our FOI request to give taxpayers a better understanding of the entire situation and how it was handled by both the administration and Marie.

Earlier this month an attorney for the governor sent the following reply: “The only documents that I have that are responsive to your request are being withheld pursuant to section 1-201(b)(1) of the Connecticut general statutes. We have determined that the public interest in withholding these documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

So our attorney recently filed an appeal with the state Freedom of Information Commission. It’s four pages long and filled with lots of legal terminology and references to prior cases. Suffice to say the letter concluded “the Governor has no reasonable grounds on which to deny the July 28 request.”

We’ll obviously let readers know what happens.

UPDATE: Sounds like Marie has landed on his feet.

Brian Lockhart