07 December 2007

Courant: Gaffey Should Be Censured

Today, the Hartford Courant issued an articulate, astonishing editorial on the recent conduct of State Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, saying he should be censured by his peers in the State Senate for failing to disclose a personal relationship which affected $1 billion in education spending.

Republicans should no longer whine and complain about how the Courant is indifferent to the actions of Democrats. At least in this case, the Courant has been thorough in its reporting and now, in its judgment.

"A Compromising Affair" sums up what Sen. Gaffey failed to do during the entire closed door debate and scheme to add $1 billion in state bonding spending on the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) which manages the operations of the four branch colleges of UConn.

In addition, the Courant said Gaffey should be removed from his position as Vice Chairman of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, which has oversight of spending on public colleges and universities.

"Mr. Gaffey's failure to disclose his relationship with Jill Ferraiolo, the assistant vice chancellor for governmental affairs, reflects poorly on his ethical judgment. It should also disqualify him from serving on the legislature's Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement, which oversees public and independent colleges and universities, including CSUS."

On Wednesday, Democrats in the Senate huddled in a closed-door meeting without staff at the State Capitol to discuss the Gaffey matter and to question the seven-term incumbent of the details. Sources said several Senators asked specific questions about the nature of Gaffey's role in negotiating the deal which moved $1 billion in spending onto the bonding package that passed the Senate, 24-12, along party lines.

Governor Rell vetoed the bonding proposal, citing excessive spending and a lack of fiscal controls on the CSUS proposal. State Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, chairman of the Higher Education Committee, was never consulted on the proposal and vowed not to vote to override the veto until controls were implemented. Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, D-Brooklyn, then threatened Hartley with a loss of privileges, including her chairmanship. In the end, Hartley won out and Williams backed off. All the time, no one knew about Gaffey's relationship with the then married Ferraiolo.

State Sens. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk and Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, were both quoted in the Wednesday Stamford Advocate as supportive of some form of review of Gaffey actions, but they were subsequently mum after the closed door meeting on Thursday.

Gaffey must have given them a convincing story.