Rob Kane, the Republican auditor of public accounts, was found dead Friday at his home in Watertown after police made a wellness check at the request of his family.
Friends and relatives grew concerned after Kane, a divorced father of two, uncharacteristically failed to respond to texts or calls. Family members met police at his home, and the police entered and found his body.
“There does not appear to be any suspicious circumstances,” police said. As a matter of routine, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner will investigate the death.
Kane, 53, was a popular figure in political circles in Watertown and at the State Capitol, where he had been a state senator before being chosen by lawmakers for an unusual role in government: one of the two auditors of public accounts.
The legislature names a Democrat and a Republican to oversee a staff of more than 100 professional auditors, an office designed to serve as a check by the legislature on the financial practices of the executive and judicial branches.
“Rob took pride in his public service on behalf of his constituents, understanding he was their voice in Hartford,” Gov. Ned Lamont said.
Kane’s appointment came under dramatic circumstances. With the Senate evenly divided at 18-18 after the 2016 election, Kane choreographed his resignation with a Democrat, Eric Coleman, who was awaiting an appointment to the Superior Court bench.
By handing in their resignations simultaneously, the Senate remained deadlocked, 17-17. Both their seats were filled in special elections by their respective parties.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic closed the Capitol, Kane was a daily presence, working from a first-floor office adjacent to his Democratic counterpart, John Geragosian. He had a playful identity on social media, tweeting as @CitizenKane3221.
The Capitol is a partisan battleground, but also a workplace with the rhythms of a village, where gossip is traded in the coffee line, and sports allegiances cross party lines. Kane was a Red Sox fan.
“This is someone who played an important role in a small village,” said Brian Flaherty, a former House Republican from Watertown. “In Watertown, we’re frozen in time right now.”
Kane won his Senate seat in a special election in January 2008, defeating a Democrat who became a friend, Ken Curran. On Facebook, Curran posted a picture of the returns in Kane’s lopsided win and noted they would have a beer or two every year on the anniversary of Kane’s win.
“It was impossible to tell we were once political opponents as we beamed talking about our kids and the world we wanted for them,” Curran wrote in a post Friday night.
“We will miss his smile, his laugh, and his positive presence at the State Capitol. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rob’s family during this incredibly painful time,” said Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford.
“He was a conscientious public servant in his near decade-long tenure as a legislator who always advocated for what he believed to be in the interests of his constituents and the state,” said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven.