Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called the comments Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley made Sunday on a television program “factually incorrect.”
But as someone who has yet to announce his 2014 re-election campaign Malloy tried to stay above the fray after an event Monday at Oxford Airport.
“They are factually incorrect and you guys can follow up with my staff and go through all of that stuff. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about it. I’m the governor of the state of Connecticut, I’ve got a job,” Malloy said.
Malloy, who went for a run Sunday after Foley’s interview was broadcast, said “it’s annoying, but I’ve got a job to do.”
“To be the governor of the state of Connecticut you’ve got to have the ability to focus and focus on what’s important in people’s lives,” Malloy said. “What’s important to people’s lives is that we get this economy going after it was driven into the ditch.”
During his “Face the State” interview Sunday, Foley accused Malloy of getting a no-show consulting job during the 2010 campaign with the help of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty, helping his former communication adviser’s firm land a lucrative state contract, forcing the UConn Foundation to pay for his trips to the World Economic Forum, and somehow getting municipalities to hire his former general counsel’s law firm as bond counsel.
In a phone interview Sunday after the broadcast, Foley said that if Malloy doesn’t deny the accusations “today or tomorrow, then they must be true.”
Pressed by the media on the specific allegations, Malloy tried hard not to answer questions about specifics or get dragged into the debate.
One reporter asked if he received the consulting job with Class Green Capital Partners of New York with the help of Esty. Malloy confirmed he did not receive any help from Esty in landing the job. Another reporter followed up and asked to confirm that he never worked for Esty’s consulting firm, Esty Environmental Partners.
“Guys, I don’t even want to talk about this stuff. He is factually incorrect,” Malloy said. “Now, you guys have a job to do to show he’s factually incorrect.”
That ended the three-minute interview on the subject Monday.
On Sunday, reporters were busy researching each of Foley’s allegations.
The first accusation Foley made about Esty and Malloy, by all accounts, seems to be false.
The second — that Malloy made sure a contract was awarded to his former senior communication adviser’s firm — was disputed by the CEO of Access Health CT who awarded the competitive bid.
“We evaluated and scored three responses to our RFP and ranked GSG’s capabilities the highest with respect to experience and capability for our needs,” Access Health CEO Kevin Counihan said Sunday in an email.
GSG refers to Global Strategies Group. It’s the firm that employs Roy Occhiogrosso, one of Malloy’s top advisers on the campaign and in Malloy’s office during the first two years of his tenure as governor.
The bid was awarded June 20 and it is for strategic communications. The total contract is worth about $220,000 and runs through May 2014.
Connecticut’s one-year revolving door law says Occhiogrosso can’t do business or communicate with anyone in the governor’s office. That office employs about 24 people. The state ethics laws don’t say his firm can’t do business with state entities.
In the third allegation, Foley said that in order for municipalities to receive a bond issuance from the state, they have to use the law firm of Pullman and Comley, which is the same firm Malloy’s former legal counsel worked for as a partner in Stamford. Malloy’s former legal counsel, Andrew MacDonald, is now a state Supreme Court justice.
“If you don’t use Pullman and Comley for your bond issuance, it’s much less likely that the governor’s going to approve it,” Foley said. “And he has sole authority to approve all bond offerings to the state.”
An official at the state’s largest municipal lobby confirmed that municipalities don’t hire bond counsel in order to receive state bond funds. Municipalities only hire bond counsel if they’re going to go out into the bond market themselves for municipal bonds. The funds from the state Bond Commission are treated like grants.
“Mr. Foley’s claims are unsubstantiated, irresponsible, and wrong,” James T. Shearin, a member of Pullman & Comley’s executive committee, said in a statement. “Pullman & Comley has been bond counsel to Connecticut municipalities for over 60 years, in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Towns choose their own bond counsel based on talent and price, not politics . . . Moreover, the governor never has any involvement whatsoever with municipal bond offerings.”
The Courant reported in 2012 that after receiving campaign donations from lawyers at the firm, three Democratic mayors chose Pullman and Comley as their municipal bond counsel after a competitive bidding process.