He “didn’t need no stickin’ badges,” until head of the Working Families Party was fined $10,000

The Blogster is saluting The Treasure of the Sierra Madra today, in honor of Jon Green of West Hartford, executive director of the Working Families Party. Remember the scene in the 1948 John Huston film, when the plucky, still-team-like miners – before Humphrey Bogart is driven crazy and mean by the treasure –  fight off the banditos? “Badges…we don’t need no stinking badges…” one bandit yells before the battle.

 If there was a more-aggressive effort than that of the Working Families in getting paid sick leave passed in the General Assembly this year, please offer one up. Turns out Green didn’t exactly get away with lobbying without credentials.  Here’s the release from the Office of State Ethics:

Connecticut Working Families Organization Executive Director Jon Green of West Hartford, Connecticut entered into a stipulation and consent agreement with the Office of State Ethics (OSE) in which he admitted violating the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists by engaging in significant lobbying activities related to paid sick leave legislation, which was enacted in June 2011, without registering or identifying himself as a lobbyist.  Green agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, which is the maximum penalty per violation allowed by law. 

According to the stipulation and consent order approved today by the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board, between January and June, 2011, Green lobbied without a badge on behalf of the Working Families Organization by personally communicating on over 100 occasions with officials, or their staffs, in the legislative and executive branches of government as well as by soliciting others to engage in such lobbying. 

On March 8, 2011, Working Families Organization disclosed to the OSE that Green was engaging in lobbying on its behalf.  Green, who was sent notification at that time of his obligation to complete his registration prior to legally engaging in lobbying, failed to complete his registration or wear a distinguishing badge until May 25, 2011, the date that the paid sick leave legislation passed the Senate. 

Green, who also serves as the Executive Director of Connecticut Working Families Party, a political party and a separate entity from Working Families Organization operating out of the same office, lobbied some of the same legislators whom he endorsed in the 2010 election cycle and to whose 2010 campaigns Working Families Party, under his direction, contributed resources.

During the 2009 legislative session, Green was the subject of a previous confidential evaluation by the OSE to determine if he was engaged in lobbying without registration. At that time, Green presented evidence that he had not exceeded the $2,000 threshold which triggers the registration requirement.  He was instructed, however, about his statutory obligations regarding registration and agreed to comply with the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists in the future.

As part of the stipulation and consent order, Green agreed to a number of other conditions on his future lobbying activities including: notifying the OSE if he spends 10 hours lobbying; registering as a lobbyist if he spends 20 hours or more lobbying; and maintaining a written summary, reviewable by the OSE, for the next five years of all his contacts with public officials and state employees to discuss legislative or administrative action.  Failure to comply with these conditions may result in additional penalties.

“The requirement to register as a lobbyist is designed to provide the public with transparency regarding lobbying activity,” said OSE Executive Director, Carol Carson.  “Failure to register or wear a lobbyist badge subverts the public’s right to know who is influencing government action.”