Higher education official Michael P. Meotti’s now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t pay raise popped up in a congressional race Tuesday when Republican candidate Andrew Roraback blamed the controversy on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“What planet does this governor live on when his administration sees fit to allow a $50,000 raise?” Roraback asked reporters outside the state Capitol, after a fundraiser with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

Malloy’s office says the independent Board of Regents for Higher Education, which employs Meotti as executive vice president, did not consult with Malloy before awarding a $49,000 raise.

“Andrew’s wrong. Andrew’s been wrong a lot lately,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor’s senior adviser. “He’s been flailing around for months trying to get traction in his campaign, and it’s not going well. And the less traction he has, the more he flails.”

Malloy, a Democrat, is not on the ballot. But Roraback, a state senator running for Congress in the 5th District, has been running against the fiscal policies of Malloy, as well as against the Democratic nominee, Elizabeth Esty. Roraback and the administration have exchanged fire in recent weeks.

“It’s hard for me to imagine the governor’s office wasn’t privy to what they had in mind, but you’ll have to find that out,” Roraback told reporters.

Meotti gave up his raise Tuesday, a day after The Mirror disclosed the raise and the refusal of the Board of Regents to defend or explain it.

What was the governor’s reaction?

“His reaction has been pretty simple, pretty blunt, pretty to the point as it typically is. If they thought this was the right thing to do, they ought to justify it. And if they can’t justify, then it probably wasn’t the right thing to do,” Occhiogrosso said.

“You don’t have to have a press conference to communicate that. You don’t have to scream it from the rooftops. You just have to say it.”

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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