Howard Rifkin, a former deputy state treasurer and gubernatorial legal counsel, is temporarily joining the staff of Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, giving her an experienced policy and legal adviser in the run up to the November election.
Rifkin, 63, of West Hartford will join Wyman’s staff at the end of the month, ending his three-year tenure as executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, a nonprofit group with a focus on creating affordable housing and ending homelessness.
“He is a friend. He understands what goes on in the House and Senate. He understands what this building is about,” said Wyman, who was a member of the legislature when Rifkin was an adviser to Gov. William A. O’Neill in the 1980s
Rifkin has worked closely with the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on housing issues, a funding priority for Malloy since he took office three years ago. Wyman has been the administration’s point person on homelessness, as well as overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“She’s got more responsibility as lieutenant governor than any lieutenant governor I have known in Connecticut,” Rifkin said. “And the governor includes her in all the strategic conversations.”
Wyman said she was going to hire a legal and policy adviser last year, but deferred making an appointment over budget considerations.
As a retired state employee receiving a state pension, Rifkin cannot be paid for more than 120 days of work, the equivalent of six months. Wyman said he will be paid between $50,000 and $60,000.
Rifkin intends to stay as Wyman’s adviser into November, which will require him to spread out the 120 days over more than eight months. Rifkin will earn no further retirement credit, nor will he receive benefits beyond those he already receives as a state retiree.
Rifkin already has a working relationship with Luke Bronin, who is Malloy’s general counsel. They worked together on the administration’s new initiative on ending homelessness among veterans.
Over 33 years, Rifkin has worked in senior positions advising a governor, secretary of the state, treasurer and, now, a lieutenant governor.
He was a deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and then legal counsel during the O’Neill administration. He was a deputy to Secretary of the State Miles Rapoport, then was deputy and counsel to Treasurer Denise Nappier.
Rifkin had planned to leave the Partnership at the end of the year.
“This was not an easy decision, and I thought long and hard about the Partnership and the impact this move might have,” he wrote in a message to supporters of the Partnership. “I am confident that the Partnership will be in very capable hands with Alicia Woodsby becoming the Interim Executive Director. As you know, we have a great team of people working here who will not miss a beat as I depart.”