(Updated 12:29 p.m.) The State Elections Enforcement Commission decided not to act Wednesday on former Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano’s appointment to head the agency.
“At this time the commission is not prepared to move forward,” SEEC Chairman Stephen Cashman said offering no further comment on the issue.
The commission had planned on appointing Giuliano Wednesday morning, but over the past week the appointment has been criticized by the two co-chairs of the legislature’s General Administration and Elections Committee who were concerned the appointment was too partisan.
Sen. Gayle Slossberg and Rep. Russ Morin issued a press release last week calling on the commission to reconsider Giuliano’s appointment.
Giuliano, a lawyer for 20 years, recently lost his mayoral re-election bid and Slossberg and Morin felt he hasn’t had enough time to separate himself from partisan politics.
In order to sit on the State Elections Enforcement Commission as a commissioner “you have to have a three year cooling off period,” Morin said Monday. So while there may not be anything specific in statute to prevent a partisan from becoming executive director, the standard applies to the commission which helps oversee the agency.
“This guy just came off of a real partisan, nasty election,” Morin said.
He said he‘s not saying Giuliano doesn‘t have integrity or isn‘t capable of doing the job, but “the guy‘s going to be overseeing something that gives grants and has the power to investigate anybody that they think might be using funds incorrectly.”
“I just don’t believe somebody fresh out of a partisan position should hold that position,” Morin said. “It wouldn’t matter who it was.”
Morin, a Democrat, said if it had been a Democrat fresh off the campaign trail he would feel the same way.
In a phone interview Wednesday Morin said he was glad the commission decided to postpone it. Morin maintained that “while this person might be a solid person, he’s just not the right person for the job.”
Slossberg agreed. She said the commission’s postponement shows the “integrity of the agency.”
“Hopefully they will come to the same conclusion. The public needs to know the watchdog agency has an independent, non-partisan executive director,” she added.
Giuliano told CTNewsjunkie.com on Tuesday that the idea that he would put his own politics before his duty is “an insult.”
Cashman has failed to return calls all week, but in the press release last week expressed confidence in Giuliano’s appointment.
“We believe he is the right guy for the job,” Cashman said in a press release last week announcing Giuliano as its pick to head the agency. Giuliano was one of four finalists for the position. Sources say none of the other three finalists were recently elected officials.
It’s unclear if the complaint filed Tuesday by Wesleyan students played any role in delaying Giuliano’s appointment.