It’s never a good day for a public-employee union when any members are implicated in fraud, but Matt O’Connor of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 did find some good news in the claim that some state employees appeared to have fraudulently obtained disaster aid.

The fraud, after all, was discovered by other state employees.

“We should be grateful to the dedicated state employees within the DSS fraud unit who put Connecticut taxpayers first, as they always do, through their investigative work on the disaster funding program,” he said.

And the lesson is: more state employees would do even a better job.

“This should serve as a reminder about the need for more DSS fraud investigators to safeguard our tax dollars, especially in these troubled times,” O’Connor said.

He reinforced a point made yesterday by the governor: while 800 employees got the Irene disaster aid, many of them were eligible.

“We would also caution against hysteria,” he said. “According to initial reports, 800 of the 23,000 applicants were state employees, many of them eligible for federal food assistance because of the number of family members they support on their middle-class incomes.

“As the governor himself indicated, the number of state employees alleged to have committed fraud is unknown. We also do not know if they are represented by any of the unions in SEBAC.

“Any Connecticut citizen, whether employed by the state or not, who deliberately committed fraud should and will be held accountable. We will await the outcome of the state’s investigation before making further comment.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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