Former state ethics chief Alan S. Plofsky continues to pursue his claims against the state for his wrongful termination as head of the now defunct State Ethics Commission.
Plofsky’s attorneys filed a lawsuit this week in Hartford Superior Court to pursue alleged civil rights violations under the Connecticut Constitution.
Plofsky’s attorneys filed a similar lawsuit on May 23, 2006 in federal court. The federal lawsuit alleges Plofsky’s First Amendment and due process rights were violated under the U.S. Constitution.
According to recent federal court documents the Attorney General’s office refused to allow the matters of state law to be heard by the federal court, forcing Plofsky’s attorneys to file the additional lawsuit in Superior Court. Plofsky’s attorneys were also instructed by U.S. District Judge Holly Fitzsimmons to file an amended complaint withdrawing the claims made against the individual State Ethics Commission members in their official capacities.
The federal court case, which was delayed for more than a year while the parties tried to reach a settlement, will continue to move forward this month as the parties begin deposing witnesses.
Federal court documents say efforts to settle the case were unsuccessful. “It is apparent that settlement is not likely and that any further settlement processes would not be effective, at least not at this time.”
The lawsuit filed in state court this week is similar to the one filed more than a year ago in federal court.
Plofsky was fired in September 2004 for alleged misconduct as the head of the state Ethics Commission. A portion of the charges alleged in his termination related to comments he made about then Gov. John G. Rowland at a Litchfield League of Women Voters event.
According to the state lawsuit, Plofsky was critical of Rowland “including making a statement that the Governor’s admission in December 2003 that he had been untruthful was consistent with another situation that had occurred in 1997 when the Governor had lied regarding his receipt of free tickets to the Meadows Music Theater. Plofsky also criticized the Governor for attempting to eliminate the commission at a time when he was under investigation for corruption.”
Plofsky was fired in part for these comments he made about Rowland, which put him at odds with the Republican appointees that made up the majority of the Ethics Commission.
During this time, Plofsky was cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in its investigation of gifts Rowland had received. Rowland would later be sent to federal prison for accepting these gifts.
Plofsky appealed his termination to the Employees Review Board and on March 31, 2006 it concluded he had been terminated “without reasonable cause.” The ERB ordered the state to pay Plofsky about $200,000 in back pay and benefits for the 18 months he was unemployed.
The state has refused to settle for the back pay and benefits, but it agreed to hire Plofsky as an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection unit. Plofsky has held the job since May 12, 2006, but the lawsuit claims that the new position does not hold the same responsibility as the old position and therefore is not comparable.
Plofsky is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for his losses.