Bannon disputes NAACP attack on transition team makeup

The Connecticut NAACP Saturday accused Gov.-elect Dan Malloy of naming a transition team with a “shameful” lack of diversity, but Malloy’s chief of staff responded that no team has been named so far.

“It is unfortunate that the NAACP chose not to discuss their concerns with us first before sending out a press release,” Malloy chief of staff Timothy F. Bannon wrote. “The fact is that the transition team has not yet been named.”

The governor-elect has made three announcements to date, including Bannon’s appointment. Malloy also said shortly after the election that Lt. Gov.-elect Nancy Wyman would co-chair the transition effort along with Bannon.

And last week Malloy named Ben Barnes, 42 of Stratford, to be his budget director. A former government finance expert at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Barnes also held three administrative posts in Stamford during Malloy’s tenure as mayor there, which ran from 1995 through 2009.

Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile released a statement contending that it had received nine names of transition team members. Besides Bannon, Wyman and Barnes, the list also included:

  • Lorraine M. Aronson, who is Bannon’s wife, a former chief financial officer for the University of Connecticut and a former deputy budget director and commissioner under three different governors.
  • Retiring Deputy State Treasurer Howard Rifkin.
  • Former Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan, who also served as state Senate president pro tem for four terms in the 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Former state Comptroller Bill Curry.
  • Mark Ojakian, who has served as deputy comptroller under Wyman.
  • Colleen Flanagan, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, and who has been serving as acting spokeswoman for the transition.

All of these individuals are white.

“The lack of diversity in Dan Malloy’s transition team is a slap in the face to all of the urban areas in the State of Connecticut,” Esdaile wrote. “Clearly Dan Malloy would not have been elected if the minority communities did not come out in record numbers on Election Day. Only time will tell, but we demand substantial representation at the table.”

Though Bannon did not provide specifics, he responded that “Some of the names they cite are wrong, and there are other people who will be joining the team whose names they don’t even have.  If the NAACP would like to discuss diversity within the transition team or the future administration, we’re happy to have that discussion.”

Malloy is expected to release more details about his transition effort this week.