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New London's Councilor Buscetto releases copy of ethics complaint

Published September 25. 2011 4:00AM

New London - City Councilor Michael Buscetto III on Saturday released a copy of an ethics complaint in which Police Chief Margaret Ackley says he failed to recuse himself from a City Council discussion of her allegations of his misconduct.

The chief's formal complaint to the city's Ethics Board followed closed-door meetings of the City Council in which her retirement contract and her allegations of Buscetto's interference in her management of the police department were discussed.

Ackley has said she may sue the city over Buscetto's conduct, and the City Council has directed the law director to hire an outside investigator to look into the matter.

A letter from the chief's lawyer to the city with more details of her allegations against the city councilor has not been made public.

Buscetto said Saturday he released the complaint Ackley made to the Ethics Board in the interest of open government.

"In an attempt to promote transparency in government and to allow the citizens of New London to make an informed decision on the timing and validity of the ethics complaint made against me ... I have waived my right to privacy and am releasing the complaint for public review," Buscetto said in a news release Saturday.

"I strongly believe this complaint, which I received on Sept. 12, 2011, does not meet the minimum probable cause standard and should be dismissed."

The ethics complaint the chief filed after the City Council sessions is brief and alleges that Buscetto should have recused himself when her claims of misconduct against him were discussed.

"The code of ethics mandates an official who has a financial or personal interest in the outcome of any matter neither engage in deliberations, act on any matter or communicate about such matter with any person who will participate in the action to be taken on such matter," the chief's complaint reads.

In his formal response to the complaint, which Buscetto also released Saturday, he says no probable cause should be found.

He said he had no financial or personal interest in the issue at hand.

"I was given no reason why I should recuse myself," Buscetto said in his response. "The matter did not require a vote. If this were to be considered probable cause, it would allow any person coming before the council to eliminate any councilor they wanted from hearing information by simply requesting that a person recuse themselves without stating facts to support such a request."

K. Robert Lewis, chairman of the Ethics Board, said Saturday he has received a communication from Buscetto that the board will open and discuss when it meets Monday.

He said it is unlikely the board would make public a complaint or the contents of an investigation, even if requested by the object of the complaint, until an investigation is complete.

Earlier this week, Reid Burdick, who has held elective and appointed positions in city government, lodged a complaint with the Ethics Board, saying its members have a host of conflicts of interest that make it impossible for them to rule fairly on the complaint against Buscetto.

Buscetto was the favorite to win the Sept. 13 Democratic mayoral primary, but he lost decisively to Daryl Justin Finizio.

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