Tom Foley’s suggestions for ethics reform find critics among… fellow Republicans in General Assembly hearing

HARTFORD – Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley got an earful from lawmakers Monday after he suggested the Capitol is filled with crooks and needs tougher ethics laws.

Foley was testifing in favor of a bill that would prohibit legislators from serving on certain committees if they, or anyone in their family, received more than $1,000 a year from a company that does five percent or more of its business with the state.

He told lawmakers the legislation is the only way to clean up state government.

“For far too long Connecticut has been the butt of jokes about political corruption. Every few years, the moniker “Corrupticut” is again raised in response to another scandal,” Foley told the Government, Administration and Elections Committee.

“Part of the problem is that the foxes are running the hen house,” said Foley, who lost a bid to become governor two years ago.

The “hen house” remark was one too many for state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R- Naugatuck, who was also angry because Foley suggested she might fall under the committee ban because her firm receives legal-aid funding for its work with indigent people.

“The Capitol is not a hen house and I’m not a hen,” Rebimbas retorted.

She added legislators are hardworking, part time public servants who understand conflict of interest and don’t need to be insulted.

State Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, held up a recent federal report that he claimed identified rampant corruption in Iraqi while Foley was private sector director charged with overseeing procurement. A former U.S. Ambassador, Foley was appointed to the position by former President George W. Bush.

“Your involvement was with a coalition that was filled with corruption,” Meyer said to Foley while holding a copy of the recent report. “Do you believe you are a good spokesman for ethics?”

Foley asked if his name was in the report and Meyer was not sure. Foley said he’s proud of his government service and believed he is more than qualified to discuss government ethics.

–Bill Cummings