Democrats and Republicans blamed each other Thursday for the death of two important bills: one that would clean up state ethics and another that would close campaign finance loopholes it wrote into a law it passed last year. Republicans said the bills died because the Democrats didn’t give the committee sufficient time Wednesday to address them, but state Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport, said the Republicans are just upset because the legislature has not appointed Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Supreme Court’s Chief Justice nominee, Peter T. Zarella.
“They’re obstructionists,” Caruso said. He said the Republicans decided to filibuster the bill in the Judiciary Committee Wednesday out of spite. “I think people need to step up to the plate and make it clear that we’re not going to vote on Zarella’s appointment before the April 25 deadline” Caruso said. He said his opinion was not based on Zarella’s merits, likes, or dislikes, but the reality that Zarella’s record has not been “properly vetted.“If anything he said it gives Republican’s an excuse to further delay action on legislation, even legislation supported by Rell, he said. House Minority Leader Robert Ward R-North Branford, said Republicans did not filibuster the Judiciary Committee bills Wednesday based on Zarella’s delayed nomination. He said the meeting was called for 11 a.m. and the chairs did not arrive until 11:20 or 11:25 a.m., which left the committee about 5 to 10-minutes to pass eight bills. “It had nothing to do with Zarella,” Ward said.Instead, Ward offered up the explanation that the Democrats just like to “pretend they want reform,” because if this had been important they would have showed up on time. Sen. Andrew Roraback R-Goshen, said he didn’t know whether the death of the bills was “negligent homicide or murder” because his finger wasn’t on the trigger. He said in order fix it, he has offered amendments to numerous bills with the hope he could resurrect at least the campaign finance loopholes. Sen. Donald Defronzo, D-New Britain, said over the last couple weeks, Republicans have been delaying “a whole host of legislation,” including legislation Rell has publicly supported. He said 90 percent of the state ethics bill submitted to the legislature is ‘the heart and soul of the governor’s ethics reform.“Adam Liegeot, a spokesman for Rell, said the governor was “disappointed time ran out on campaign finance reform fixes and is hopeful these measures can be resurrected through other bills.“Liegeot was unable to answer further questions Thursday about how frequent Rell communicates her priorities with Republican leadership in the House and the Senate.