Former state ethics chief Alan Plofsky filed a lawsuit against the new Office of State Ethics and eight members of the former state ethics commission Monday, in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit alleges the former commissioners—Rosemary Giuliano, Richard Vitarelli, Christopher Smith, John O’Connor, Gary Collins, Helen Pearl, Scott Storms, and Hugh MacGill—violated his right to free speech and due process when they fired him in September 2004.
According to the lawsuit the commission deprived Plofsky of access to evidence used against him in his firing. The allegations made in the lawsuit are consistent with those made to the Employees’ Review Board which found in a report released more than a month ago that Plofsky was dismissed “without reasonable cause.” Plofsky’s attorney, Gregg Adler said today that Plofsky is currently working in the Attorney General’s Office, but has yet to see any of the back pay and benefit’s he’s owed according to the Employees’ Review Board report. The lawsuit states that while Plofsky’s new job maintains his rate of pay, $120,000, but it doesn’t carry the same weight as his former position as head of the state ethics commission, which no longer exists under state laws. The state ethics commission was reorganized by the legislature in 2005 as the Office of State Ethics. The review board asked Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Yelmini to reinstate Plofsky into active employment with the state. Ironically, it was Yelmini, who advised the former ethics commission that it was appropriate to hold a closed-door meeting almost two years ago to discuss Plofsky’s employment, according to the lawsuit. A meeting the Freedom of Information Commission later ruled illegal. When Plofsky asked the commission to reconsider his termination, which it did on Sept. 29, 2004, Plofsky and his attorney were not allowed to address the original evidence against Plofsky and the commission voted to uphold the termination. In addition to back pay and benefits estimated at about $200,000, the lawsuit seeks attorney’s fees, punitive damages, and a declaration that the commission violated Plofsky’s constitutional rights. The total amount Plofsky is seeking is not specified.Plofsky’s termination was a result of his investigation into corpution activity former Gov. John G. Rowland. The veteran ethics chief came to blows with commissioners in the summer of 2004 when he made a comment about Rowland at a Litchfield League of Women Voters meeting. Plofsky’s public criticism of Rowland didn’t sit well with the Rowland appointees on the commission. The Rowland investigation he spearheaded in December 2003 was later handed over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and eventually lead to Rowland’s resignation.