Number of state employees suspected of Irene fraud reaches 34

Brushing off a lawyer’s complaints and media questions, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy pushed ahead Thursday with the pursuit of state employees suspected of fraudulently obtaining disaster aid, announcing that 10 more state workers have been referred for disciplinary hearings.

The number of state employees now facing discipline that could include termination has risen to 34.

“While I’m dismayed that the number of cases of possible fraud continues to climb, I am in no way deterred from moving forward with this investigation as quickly and thoroughly as possible,” Malloy said in a late-afternoon announcement. “The residents of Connecticut deserve to know that their government will not stand for fraud or abuse of taxpayer dollars, a point that should carry even greater weight when we’re talking about state employees.”

Malloy’s announcement came after Rich Rochlin, who says he is representing some of the targeted employees, showed up after a Malloy press conference at the Legislative Office Building hours earlier to repeat his demand that the administration focus on how it ran the aid program, not the employees suspected of fraud.

This afternoon, Malloy said the attention was appropriately on state employees suspected of violating the public trust.

“We’re not going to slow down,” Malloy told reporters after a speech to nonprofit groups in Hartford.

Malloy has rebuffed suggestions that his administration should view the fraud controversy with some introspection. Asked when the story broke last week if it was embarrassing, Malloy replied that it was — for the state, not his administration.

Asked if the Department of Social Services, which administered the program, was at fault in some way, Malloy said DSS followed federal procedures.

Today, the governor again declined to reflect on whether there was anything he took away from his administration’s first brush with significant claims of wrongdoing by state employees. Instead, he told reporters what they should take away from his administration’s response.

“Full disclosure. Transparency. Keeping people informed,” Malloy said. “That should be your take-away from what we’re doing.”