Corruption investigations are on a Lamont-friendly election season schedule
Bob Stefanowski, Gov. Ned Lamont’s Republican challenger, is clearly frustrated by a summer of quiet in the extensive federal investigations under way in Connecticut.
After all, it sure seemed not long ago, in the spring in fact, that a wide-ranging federal probe into state construction projects costing hundreds of millions of dollars, was going to cast a big shadow over the governor’s reelection campaign.
But then all went very quiet, with not a peep or even a tiny leak from the federal grand jury all summer.
The Lamont administration promised, at the time news of the federal probe dropped in the spring, a fast audit of the school construction programs under investigation.
But the audit that was first promised to be done by late spring is now not expected until next year. Oops. Too bad that will be after the election.
Imagine the disappointment of candidate Stefanowski, who, like the rest of us, must have imagined a summer of rolling scandals when word of the wide federal probe into so much state spending hit the news in March.
Indeed, Stefanowski’s frustration seemed to boil over in a press conference in mid September.
“We all know what’s going to happen. He’s going to try to bury the FBI investigations until after the election,” Stefanowski was quoted saying by the Connecticut Mirror.
“He’s going to try to bury the scandal at the State Pier until after the election.”
Stefanowski got some pushback from the reporter, who noted in the story it was an “explosive” note to drop and leave without answering clarifying questions.
Certainly Stefanowski doesn’t have any proof of a political burial of the investigations, or he’d share it. But I don’t blame him for the paranoia.
After all it is easy to see traces of political interference in state criminal work in the Lamont era.
How else do you explain State Police detectives turning up to question State Pier critic Kevin Blacker in a windowless room at the Legislative Office Building, asking him to come with them and leave the premises, shortly before he was expected to testify before a General Assembly committee looking at corruption related to the pier project.
Blacker was later contacted directly by the police commissioner.
And then, after he painted some street signs near State Pier pink, in a protest, he was arrested by the State Police Major Crime Squad, the police who investigate things like armed robbery and murder.
Blacker was arrested on a felony charge based on an inflated estimate to the cost of repairing the signs. Turns out that major crime squad can’t get simple stuff straight.
Prosecutors eventually had to drop the felony to a misdemeanor, based on the true cost, after the felony hung wrongfully over the head of the Lamont critic for a long while.
Meanwhile, the charges are, incredibly, still pending, more than two years later. The prosecutor tells me a two-year wait for justice is not unusual.
Honestly, this grizzled old reporter can’t help but wonder about the politics involved in the lack of resolution of two-year-old vandalism charges against the Green Party candidate for Congress.
And don’t blame Stefanowski for being paranoid that a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation into the Lamont administration went dark all summer.
This is the opinion of David Collins