(Updated 9:30 p.m.) Attorney General George Jepsen released a statement Monday afternoon referring the investigation of allegations made by the state employee unions regarding the Yankee Institute for Public Policy to the Auditors of Public Accounts.
Jepsen will investigate whether there were any violations of the state’s computer laws, but allegations the conservative think tank tried to sabotage the union ratification process through electronic messages will be handled mostly by the bipartisan auditors of public accounts.
“We have received a letter alleging improper use of the state email system,” Jepsen said. “Pursuant to the whistleblower statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 4-61dd, we are referring the matter to the Connecticut State Auditors of Public Accounts for their consideration. We will continue to review claims that state computer laws have been violated. At this time, there is insufficient information to comment further on the merits of these serious allegations.”
Matt O’Connor, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said they were happy Jepsen decided to maintain jurisdiction over possible misuse of the state computer system and hopes both his investigation and that of the auditors is done in an expeditious manner. Since there are only five days left for state employees to vote on the $1.6 billion concession package, O’Connor stressed that time is of the essence.
Fergus Cullen, executive director of the Yankee Institute, called SEBAC’s allegations outrageous in an email Monday.
“We categorically deny all of the union’s accusations made in SEBAC’s desperate and paranoid June 17 letter to Attorney General Jepsen,” Cullen said. “If the unions can’t provide any evidence to support their charges, they should withdraw them and apologize to the Yankee Institute before their credibility is further damaged. Without such evidence, the Attorney General has no basis for an investigation and he should say so immediately.”
O’Connor maintains that the Yankee Institute has some explaining to do regarding its misrepresentation and “attempts to subvert a democratic election.” He said these are things not to be taken lightly.
“We understand the government unions are frustrated to have as effective a critic as the Yankee Institute,” Cullen said. “But that does not excuse the union’s delusional behavior or the union’s desperate attempt to use the power of the state to silence us.”
O’Connor said he understands the Yankee Institute doesn’t like the agreement or the middle and working class, but it doesn’t give it the right to meddle with an election.
Cullen suggested, “SEBAC cool off with a tall glass of lemonade and some time in the shade.”
O’Connor said as soon as the voting is done Friday he may take Cullen up on that offer, but in the meantime he called on Cullen to apologize for attacking the working people of the state of Connecticut.