Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday said Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. would “be gone” if the governor had the power to fire him.
The governor’s remarks came at a press conference a day after the state released the results of an independent investigation into Colangelo’s hiring of Anastasia Diamantis, the daughter of Konstantinos “Kosta” Diamantis, a former deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.
That investigative report questioned the credibility of Colangelo and Kosta Diamantis as they tried to explain how Anastasia Diamantis was selected to fill a state job in the Division of Criminal Justice, which pays $99,000 a year.
The report found that Colangelo was prodding Kosta Diamantis at the same time to use his influence to increase the salaries for several positions within the Division of Criminal Justice.
Emails that were reviewed as part of the investigation suggested that Colangelo was seeking those raises in order to prevent other state employees within the Division of Criminal Justice from opposing his reappointment.
“I do not hire him. I do not fire him. But if I did, he’d be gone,” Lamont said of Colangelo.
“I have zero tolerance for this type of ethical malfeasance,” Lamont added. “I believe this was an abuse of the public trust.”
On Wednesday, Colangelo’s office said he was reserving comment until completing his review of the report. The CT Mirror called a spokeswoman for his office on Thursday but did not receive an immediate response.
Lamont’s opinion on the matter will not decide whether Colangelo continues to serve in his current role, which he took over two years ago.
Colangelo’s fate rests with the state’s Criminal Justice Commission, which is led by Andrew McDonald, an associate justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
During the press conference on Thursday, Lamont urged the Criminal Justice Commission to make its decision soon.
The findings in the investigative report, Lamont said, damage the trust that people have in government and “cast a pall” over all public employees, even though the vast majority are hardworking public servants.
On Thursday, McDonald issued a statement:
“The findings in the report are quite startling and raise profoundly serious questions about whether the Chief State’s Attorney can continue to discharge the duties of the constitutional office he holds,” the statement reads. “No Chief State’s Attorney has ever been removed, so I have asked the Attorney General’s office to advise the commission on the full extent of the due process that would need to be observed in any removal hearing. At a minimum, the statute that dictates that process … would require the commission to level formal charges against him, issue a summons to him, and conduct a hearing to show cause why he should not be removed from office. At such a hearing, he could be represented by counsel and call witnesses in his defense.
“We are in the process of organizing a special meeting of the commission to receive the full extent of the advice of the Attorney General.”
On Oct. 28, Diamantis was removed from the politically appointed OPM position by the governor’s office and suspended with pay from a second civil-service job overseeing school construction grants. Rather than accept the suspension, Diamantis retired.
Lamont referred to Colangelo and Kosta Diamantis as the “two key players” in the report, and he said his administration has done everything it can to be open and transparent about the investigation.
The governor’s office released the investigative report as quickly as it could, Lamont said, making it available within 24 to 48 hours after it was finalized.
“I’ve got to do everything I can to give people confidence. This is a state government trying to do the right thing,” Lamont said.
There is some information, however, that Lamont administration has yet to release to the public.
The report says Stanley A. Twardy Jr., the former U.S. Attorney who conducted the investigation, also provided the governor’s office with an “oral briefing” on his “legal analysis and recommendations.”
That information, according to the documents, was not disclosed because of claims of attorney-client privilege.
At the press conference on Thursday, Lamont said he was uncertain what legal recommendations Twardy provided outside of the written report. But the governor said he would look into why the findings were not shared.
“I don’t know about the legal findings,” Lamont said. “I thought we had released everything. If there’s something we didn’t release, let me see if it’s (attorney) client privilege or something else.”
This story has been updated.