03 December 2007

Billion Dollar Bedfellows

It now turns out, that if you have the right boyfriend or engage in unprofessional behavior, you can get $1 billion in state tax dollars for a project that doesn't have broad based support.

Such is the case with State Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, who managed to resuscitate a proposal to pump that amount into the Connecticut State University System while having his leadership threaten another Senator who questioned the details. How did Tom Gaffey do it? With his the help of Vice Chancellor, Jill Ferraiolo of CSUS, where she runs the legislative liaison office.

It has been disclosed in Sunday's Hartford Courant by Kevin Rennie, that Gaffey and Ferraiolo have long been involved since the beginning of the year in an intimate relationship. The twice-divorced Gaffey is chairman of the Education Committee and Vice Chairman of the Higher Education and Employment Enhancement Committee, the latter of which has cognisance of the CSUS. Ferraiolo then married with three children, was divorced a few months ago.

Neither Gaffey or Ariolo had made any attempt to disclose their relationship to their peers. And it is no wonder. Between the two of them, they managed to move the $1 billion proposal onto the 2007 State Bonding proposal. The bill had a hearing, but the bill died in committee earlier this year. Then, it magically appeared in the Democratic proposal that was passed on party-line vote in September. Governor Rell rightly vetoed the bill and that is when the fun started.

State Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury and chairman of the Higher Education Committee, objected to the $1 billion package because it had no specifics or safeguards on spending. Quickly, Gaffey and Senate President Don Williams, D-Putnam, descended on Hartley, threatening her with loss of parking and chairmanship if she didn't jump to and vote to override the Governor's veto.

Hartley's issues were addressed, a new bond package was passed and no one was the wiser as to who were the real architects of this legislation - until Rennie's column.

There are many more questions that need to asked and answered, including:

When did Sen. Williams become aware of the Gaffey-Ferriolo relationship?

What did Sen. Williams do about it and did he ever tell Sen. Harley when he threatened her political livelihood?

Did Jill Ferriolo provide gifts in excess of $100 - in violation of state Ethics law?


Barry said...

As a Democrat, I'm sure that he'll find some way to show how he was actually the victim in this situation.

Heath - Exec Dir said...

Perhaps he tripped and fell over something...

Anonymous said...

this is an honest question... isnt there a legislator that is married to a registered lobbyist (i think it's another dem)? i forget which one. what is done to make sure that they dont violate ethics laws? surely that legislator pays for things for their wife/husband... how does that work?