(Updated 4:30 p.m.) In an attempt to find out what really is going on in the governor’s office, Democratic State Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said Wednesday that under the states open records law she has requested all audio, video, emails, and transcripts related to the contract a University of Connecticut professor has with the state.
The $223,000 contract, which was awarded to UConn’s Ken Dautrich, is said to be a study of ways to streamline state government, but DiNardo and other Democrats have questioned whether portions of the study may have been used for political purposes.
Democratic lawmakers have criticized the nine-member focus group, which according to Dautrich’s report resulted in a conversation on leadership, ultimately comparing Rell to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
“It’s disturbing,” DiNardo said at a Capitol press conference Wednesday.
“Is she trying to cover up something or is she not aware of what’s going on?” DiNardo asked. She said it could be either one, but she won’t know for sure until she sees the documents and other related materials.
“This clearly was set out to be one thing, when in fact it was used for something completely different,” DiNardo said specifically referring to the focus group.
According to Dautrich’s Sept. 8 report on the focus group, he had asked the group, which one do you think is a better leader: Rell or Blumenthal.
After being given a list of adjectives, such as “principled” and “honest” the focus group was then asked “if Governor Rell or Attorney General Blumenthal fit these characteristics.”
“Many of the participants agreed that Blumenthal fit the characteristics well,” Dautrich reported to Rell.
DiNardo questioned whether the focus group was used to provide political guidance rather than policy guidance to the governor with taxpayer dollars.
The governor’s office was still deciding Wednesday afternoon whether it would comment on DiNardo’s press conference.
Meanwhile Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy wasn’t timid about responding to the Democratic Party Chairwoman’s request.
“The Democrats are not fooling anyone. Each year, the Legislative Democrats spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars promoting themselves while passing a record tax increase and deficits as far as the eye can see,” Healy said in an emailed statement Wednesday afternoon.
“My good friend Nancy DiNardo should ask Speaker Chris Donovan and Sen. Don Williams for a full accounting of all their caucuses’ miscellaneous expenses,” he said. “Including travel, mail and the costs of their traveling budget shows.”
“This is nothing more than the convenient application of ethics to cover up the Democrats’ disastrous leadership on the budget and the state’s hostility to business.”