Republican Tom Foley accused Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of questionable ethics during a television interview aired Sunday, offering allegations but no proof of ethical violations by Malloy or his administration.
Appearing on WFSB’s “Face the State,” Foley cited four examples of what he called ethically questionable behavior, a follow-up to the unspecified claim of Malloy improprieties that Foley made last week as he kicked off an exploratory campaign for governor.
“These are all things that have been told to me by more than one reliable source, so it meets a journalistic standard,” Foley told interviewer Dennis House. He declined to name those sources to House or during a telephone interview Sunday with The Mirror.
“Mr. Foley’s allegations are factually incorrect,” said Andrew Doba, the governor’s spokesman. “The reason he can’t back them up is because they’re untrue. Mr. Foley owes everyone to whom he referred an immediate apology.”
Foley, the GOP nominee who narrowly lost to Malloy in 2010, told The Mirror he will continue to raise ethics as an issue unless Malloy personally responds point by point. He told House and The Mirror that he sees no risk his own reputation as he attacks Malloy’s.
The allegations are fair game, Foley said, because the perception exists that the administration does not have high ethical standards, and that favors are being done for friends and family. “A good leader does not allow that perception to exist,” he said. Foley said he used “friends and family” as a manner of speech, not a claim that Malloy is doing favors for his family.
Foley made four allegation, two involving former senior Malloy aides and friends, Roy Occhiogrosso and Andrew McDonald, who is now a Supreme Court justice. A third involves Daniel C. Esty, the Yale expert on environmental and energy issues he named as a commissioner.
He claimed that Malloy did consulting work for Esty, who had a consulting practice while at Yale, during the 2010 campaign, and that Esty’s appointment as the commissioner of energy and environmental protection was pay back, albeit one that meant a pay cut for Esty.
“This is absurd. This is wildly off the mark,” Esty said Sunday “The suggestion that in any way, shape or form I employed Dan Malloy is preposterous.”
Malloy did say during the 2010 campaign that he consulted one day a week with a New York green technology firm, Class Green Capital, after his term as mayor of Stamford ended in 2009. Esty said he had no connection to that company.
In an interview in June 2010, Malloy described Class Green as a start up and his job was to use his 14 years’ experience as a mayor to help develop a marketing plan. Class Green was to trying to market creative financing to municipalities.
“I will have no relationship with the company if I become governor,” he told The Mirror three years ago. “It is viewed either as a temporary position or a longer-term position, based on the outcome of the election.”
Malloy said at the time he could not afford to campaign full time. “I’m not to the manor house born,” he said. a dig at his two wealthy opponents in 2010, Democrat Ned Lamont and Foley.
The Wall Street Journal described Class Green as a financial adviser to municipalities:
“Class Green has been helping cities to essentially take out mortgages on their public buildings and use many of the proceeds to plug their budget shortfalls. Here is the twist: A portion of the bond proceeds go to improve energy efficiency in the buildings, which are meant to generate savings for the city.”
Foley said Sunday did not know if Class Green Capital was the entity to which his sources had referred as employment provided by Esty.
Foley also accused an unnamed person in the Malloy administration of pressuring the UConn Foundation to pay for the governor’s trip to a world economics forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The allegation of pressure is new, not that the foundation paid for the trip: Malloy disclosed the source of funds when announcing his participation, saying he would be promoting UConn’s bioscience initiative.
“What’s news here is a very high-level person in the administration called the UConn Foundation and put some very high pressure on them,” Foley told The Mirror. “I am calling foul. It smells.”
Foley made an issue of Global Strategy, a communication and marketing firm, winning a contract to help market Access Health CT, the state health exchange that will implement a key provision of Obamacare.
Roy Occhiogrosso, a top adviser to Malloy during his campaign who was an administration official for two years, is employed by Global. The Malloy campaign also used Global as a consultant. Foley suggested the health contract was a reward.
“It is an irresponsible, false allegation that has no basis in fact,” Occhiogrosso said.
He referred other questions about the contract to Global’s executive vice president and managing director for communications, Tanya Meck.
“Global Strategy Group participated in a competitive process to become the public relations consultant for Access Health CT,” Meck said in a statement. “Since being awarded the business, our work has been to maximize earned media opportunities and to inform the people of Connecticut about the benefits of healthcare reform as provided through the plan offerings at Access Health CT.”
Under state ethics laws, Occhiogrosso is barred from trying to influence the governor’s office on behalf of clients. No law bars a firm with which he is associated from pursuing a state contract.
Foley said he is not claiming any violation of ethics rules or laws by Global or Occhiogrosso.
“Most conflicts of interest aren’t illegal,” Foley said told The Mirror. “They’re not engaged in by honest, straightforward people and people who want to provide good leadership, particularly in the political arena.”
Foley said Malloy should have stopped Access Health CT from hiring Global, because a state contract going to a company with which he has personal ties creates, at the very least, a perception of unfair practices.
“This isn’t a question what’s legal, what conforms to our ethics statutes,” he said. “It’s what kind of leadership do you provide? This stuff stinks.”
Again quoting an unnamed official, Foley also alleged that some municipal leaders have the perception that their chances of obtaining aid from state bonding is enhanced if they hired Pullman & Comley, a firm that once employed Malloy’s former general counsel, McDonald.
Foley told House it’s “commonly believed” among first selectmen that if they don’t use McDonald’s former law firm for their bond issues, it’s less likely that Malloy will approve aid. As governor, Malloy is chairman of the State Bond Commission and controls its agenda.
“Whether that’s true or not, the mere perception that that’s the case is creating a distortion in moving business to a firm improperly,” Foley said.
Town officials hire bond counsel for bonds issued by municipalities, not the state. The Courant reported in February 2012 that three cities whose mayors had been endorsed by Malloy hired Pullman.
Foley said Malloy needs to personally respond.
“If the governor promptly and personally, and not through a spokesperson and not through his surrogates, gets out there and denies these or gives a reasonable explanation about how it might be misunderstood, I think it goes away,” he said.
The Connecticut Democratic Party, meanwhile, responded by reviving a story about Foley’s arrests in 1981 and 1983 after motor vehicle incidents, one in which he was jailed overnight and another involving his former wife.
The party — the statement was not issued in the name of a person, a departure from its usual practice — called on Foley to disclose arrest records in the two incidents:
“Today the Connecticut Democratic Party call on Mr. Foley to release those records, in the spirit of open and full disclosure he says he believes in. The facts surrounding these incidents have never been brought to light. Mr. Foley has called them ‘minor,’ but no one spends a night in jail for something considered to be ‘minor.’ “
Foley said three years ago he possessed no records to release.
The arrest issue was used by Malloy in a campaign ad late in the 2010 campaign, when polls showed the race too close to call.