Calling the findings of an investigative report on the Chief State’s Attorney “quite startling,” Criminal Justice Commission Chair Andrew McDonald is seeking advice on how to convene a hearing on whether to oust Richard J. Colangelo Jr. from the job.
The report raises “profoundly serious questions about whether the Chief State’s Attorney can continue to discharge the duties of the constitutional office he holds,” McDonald, a state Supreme Court Justice, said Thursday. “No Chief State’s Attorney has ever been removed, so I have asked the Attorney General’s office to advise the commission on the full extent of the due process that would need to be observed in any removal hearing.”
Gov. Ned Lamont also said he would fire Colangelo if he could.
“When it comes to Colangelo, I don’t hire him, I don’t fire him, but if I did he’d be gone,” Lamont said.
Colangelo and former state Office of Policy and Management Deputy Commissioner Kosta Diamantis are embroiled in what is looking like an executive branch scandal after a Hartford Courant opinion piece was published on Oct. 1.
In the piece, columnist Kevin Rennie questioned the timing of Colangelo’s hiring of Kosta Diamantis’ daughter, Anastasia, while also lobbying OPM for raises for himself and other state’s attorneys.
Lamont placed Kosta Diamantis on paid leave in mid-October; Diamantis retired effective Nov. 1.
The Lamont administration then hired former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy to investigate. Twardy’s report on the investigation was released Wednesday – the same day state officials released documents related to a federal subpoena for any records of construction projects that Kosta Diamantis oversaw in his role at the OPM Office of School Construction Grants and Reviews and all documents pertaining to the State Pier project in New London.
The findings of the Twardy report, which included nearly 500 pages of documents, show Colangelo, Diamantis and OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw continued to discuss the issue even after the raises were denied twice.
In another section, Twardy said that a Department of Administrative Services official revealed that Kosta Diamantis had pressured him to hire his daughter for an agency human resources position. After Anastasia Dimantis was hired by Colangelo, the DAS official said her father made comments along the lines of, “You couldn’t get it done, but she’s got a better job anyways.” Diamantis denied pressuring any DAS or other state official to hire his daughter, Twardy said.
Colangelo also told Twardy that he didn’t believe that Kostas Diamantis could get him the funding for the raises and that he had done nothing improper in the hiring of Anastasia Diamantis, the report said.
“However, those claims are contradicted by the magnitude of communications between Mr. Colangelo, Mr. Diamantis and Secretary McCaw concerning this issue, the reality that Mr. Diamantis was then the second highest ranking OPM official in the state, and the fact that the issue kept resurfacing at OPM despite repeated denials – the first being just weeks before Colangelo contacted Mr. Diamantis with job descriptions and then hired Anastasia just days later,” Twardy said.
Based on the findings, Lamont instructed the Office of State Ethics to give executive branch employees, including commissioners and deputy commissioners, a refresher in ethics training.
He also referred the report to the Criminal Justice Commission, which appointed Colangelo in January 2020 to serve the remainder of the term of retired Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane. Colangelo was reappointed by the commission in 2021 to serve a full eight-year term.
As the commission chair, McDonald is now gathering information to start the process of potentially removing Colangelo from the job. At a minimum, state law says that the commission would have to level formal charges against Colangelo, issue a summons to him and conduct a hearing to show cause why he should not be removed from office, McDonald said.
Colangelo could be represented by counsel and call witnesses in his defense, McDonald said.
“We are in the process of organizing a special meeting of the commission to receive the full extent of the advice of the Attorney General,” McDonald said.
It is unclear how much of the hearing would be public.