AG, auditors close Dautrich case with no action against Rell

A joint investigation by the attorney general’s office and the state auditors found no cause to take action against former Gov. M. Jodi Rell or her staff in connection with controversial polling advice she obtained from a University of Connecticut professor, Ken Dautrich

In a letter today to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the attorney general and the auditors said they have completed their investigation into a complaint that Rell’s office misused state resources to obtain advice from Dautrich for campaign purposes deciding not to run for re-election in 2010.

UConn and the State Elections Enforcement Commission investigated the same complaint without finding evidence that Rell’s office violated the law in hiring Dautrich for an efficiency study that a Democrat, Jonathan Pelto, alleged was a pretext to use state funds to subsidize a poll.

“The factual findings of our joint investigation were consistent with the findings of the UConn and SEEC investigations,” read the letter by Attorney General George Jepsen and the two auditors, Democrat John C. Geragosian and Republican Robert Ward.

While state law bars classified employees from campaign activity on state time, no one involved in the polling was a classified employee, they found. Further, the evidence showed that Dautrich produced an efficiency study, as contracted by Rell’s office.

“You apparently have a lot of leeway to conduct politics on state time,” if you are not a classified employee, Pelto said.

Dautrich agreed last month to pay $2,000 to the SEEC to settle another issue arising from the complaint: He improperly relied on the work of two grad students, who were paid by UConn, to prepare questions for a poll, the commission concluded.

Their work amounted to a defrayal of costs that otherwise should have been reported as a contribution. Dautrich admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.