Editor’s Note: This article is part of CT Mirror’s Spanish-language news coverage developed in partnership with Identidad Latina Multimedia.
Attorney General William Tong opened an investigation Thursday into whether Project Veritas’ hidden-camera video of a Greenwich assistant principal is evidence of illegal bias on the basis of political beliefs, age or religious affiliation.
“Discrimination, hate, bigotry against any person and against any religion or on the basis of age or otherwise, is reprehensible and wrong,” Tong said. “This video is disturbing. And if teachers, school staff or applicants for education jobs have been illegally discriminated against for any reason, I will take action.”
Tong, a Democrat seeking a second term in November, said he was acting based on the publicly available video, not the calls for an investigation by Republicans, including the GOP’s nominee for attorney general, Jessica Kordas.
“I want to make two points absolutely clear. I do not play politics with my enforcement authority. And I do not play politics with civil rights investigations,” Tong said. “And I definitely do not play politics with schools, kids in schools, and teachers and students and families.”
In the Project Veritas video, an assistant principal of the Cos Cob elementary school, Jeremy Boland, is seen telling a woman over drinks about using age and religion, among other things, to weed out conservative applicants for teaching jobs. Boland was suspended Wednesday.
Tong’s inquiry is likely to be one of three: First Selectman Fred Camillo said he intends to hire outside counsel to investigate, and the Board of Education also is expected to investigate whether Boland was trying to impress a woman over drinks or actually had discriminated against applicants.
As an assistant principal, Boland plays a role on committees that screen and recommend hiring, but has no authority to make hires. “Assists in the recruitment and selection of employees” is an element of the job description.
In one clip, Boland said he used Catholicism and age to judge if an applicant was likely to be politically conservative. He did not say how he discerned religious affiliation.
Tong declined to comment in detail on the scope or structure of the investigation. Specifically, he would not say if his office would seek all the video recorded of Boland and not just the brief cuts used in the 12-minute report posted Tuesday.
“But suffice it to say, we are going to investigate broadly the contents and circumstances of that video. And we’re going to assess and analyze and review all of the available evidence,” Tong said.
Project Veritas, which has been accused of using video clips out of context in previous exposés, declined Wednesday to explain how Boland came to be targeted or how the woman working for the group engaged him in what appears to be at least three conversations over drinks and meals.
Tong was elected in 2018 on a promise to seek greater authority to pursue civil penalties for hate crimes and civil rights offenses, and the legislature responded in 2021 by passing a bill that gives him that authority.
“I will not rush to judgment, and I will respect due process,” Tong said Thursday. “I am not going to do anything different just because this is a political season and people want to see me reach one conclusion or another. I also want to make very clear we will conduct a thorough investigation and review and analyze all of the evidence. This will not happen overnight.”