A former state senator, who resigned from office last year as a bipartisan committee inched toward censuring him, said that he’s not bitter or angry. But he feels like he was treated differently than Democratic lawmakers whose indiscretions or missteps were never investigated by a legislative committee.
“I believe this was political from the first day on,” former state Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca, said Wednesday at a press conference in the Legislative Office Building.
The Woodbury Republican who had all but disappeared from the political limelight until earlier this week when he was asked to pay a $2,500 fine to settle a state ethics complaint stemming from his misdemeanor threatening conviction last year said he paid the fine based on the advice of his attorney. He said his attorney advised him that he could fight the complaint by filing a lawsuit in Superior Court, but that it could cost him tens of thousands of dollars to do so.
“I’m more disappointed, probably a little hurt and a lot frustrated,” he said. “I believe it was all politics.”
In 2007, DeLuca was arrested and convicted in federal court for asking indicted trash-hauling magnate James Galante to threaten his grandson-in-law, who he thought was abusing his granddaughter.
The ethics complaint DeLuca settled Monday was filed by Democratic State Central Committee Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and concluded that the former senator accepted a gift from Galante. The gift was the offer to pay his grandson-in-law a “visit,” which never occurred. DeLuca agreed to the settlement, but denies his conduct constituted a gift from a lobbyist.
DeLuca said he believes senate leaders convened a bipartisan committee to investigate him because they “did not want to hurt their own political ambitions.”
“I was treated differently than others of the opposite party,” DeLuca said after rattling off a number of missteps made by Democratic lawmakers both past and present.
“I’m not saying I’m here to judge anybody, but at least they should look into it,” DeLuca said after referring to at least four specific situations, but refusing to name names in many instances.
One of the Democrats he did mention was Sen. Joseph Crisco, D-Woodbridge, who had been disqualified from $85,000 in public financing after the campaign treasurer’s name was forged on an official document.
It’s unclear still if there has been an ethics complaint filed against Sen. Crisco because anyone who files a complaint is not allowed to talk about its existence.
Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy said Wednesday that he filed a complaint against state Rep. Charles “Don” Clemons, D-Bridgeport, 10-months ago for admitting to witnessing a bribe. Healy said he learned that Clemons witnessed a bribe based on federal court transcripts of former Sen. Ernie Newton’s court proceedings.
“Where is the justice?” Healy asked. In Connecticut, Justice only opens her eyes when they see a Republican in the room, he concluded.
When asked if DeLuca would still be in the Senate if he were a Democrat, Healy said, “absolutely.”
However, DeLuca said even if he hadn’t resigned before the end of his term that he never intended on running for re-election this November.
Does he miss the Senate?
“I thought I would and I didn’t,” he said.
DeLuca held the press conference Wednesday in Room 2A of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. He was accompanied by his family.
Why did he hold the press conference?
To “get a decent night’s sleep,” and not let this continue to bother him, he said.
Derek Slap, spokesman for Senate President Donald Williams said in a statement Wednesday, that “It is sad, considering the difficult times facing Connecticut and its families, that the leader of the Republican Party and a disgraced former senator would waste everybody’s time slinging mud.”
“We’re focused on working with Governor Rell to solve the budget crisis.”