The State Capitol. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org
Nick Balletto greets Ned Lamont, who declined to endorse Balletto’s re-election as Democratic chairman. mark Pazniokas / ctmirror.org
Nick Balletto greets Ned Lamont, who declined to endorse Balletto’s re-election as Democratic chairman. mark Pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Not for the first time, a Connecticut governor has dipped into the ranks of the politically connected to fill two vacancies on the Liquor Control Commission, a part-time gig that pays about $58,000 annually.

Gov. Ned Lamont has named Nick Balletto of East Haven, whom he deposed as the Democratic state chairman upon taking office in 2019, and former Senate Republican Leader John P. McKinney of Westport to the commission.

By statute, the three-member commission must have one Democrat, one Republican and be chaired by the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection.

The appointments are coterminous with Lamont’s term and are not subject to legislative review.

The panel is a regulatory body responsible for holding hearings on a range of issues involving liquor permit holders and applicants, including the suitability of applicants and permit premises and allegations of violations, such as sales to minor or intoxicated persons.

Balletto, a political ally of Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, was elected unanimously by the Democratic State Central Committee in January 2015 as state chair, with the backing of then- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Without Lamont’s support, he left the post in early 2019.

McKinney, a political moderate with friends on both sides off the aisle, was defeated by Thomas C. Foley in the Republican primary for governor in 2014, his last run for elective office.

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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