Sunset at the state Capitol
Sunset at the state Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut. Credit: File / CTNewsJunkie

Bryan Cafferelli, current legal counsel for the state Senate’s Republican Caucus, received Gov. Ned Lamont’s nomination to lead the Department of Consumer Protection, the governor’s office announced in a Monday press release.

If confirmed by the legislature, Cafferelli will replace outgoing DCP Commissioner Michelle Seagull. Lamont announced in December that Seagull would be stepping down after leading the agency since 2017. Cafferelli said he was honored by the appointment.

Bryan Cafferelli Credit: Courtesy of the Senate Republicans

“The Department of Consumer Protection has an important function of not only protecting residents from unfair business practices and unsafe products, but also enforcing federal and state laws to ensure a fair and safe marketplace for everyone,” he said.

The governor touted Cafferelli’s government experience, which includes nearly two years as a drug control attorney at the Consumer Protection Department and work as a state prosecutor. Cafferelli was also executive director of the Connecticut Republican State Central Committee between 2011 and 2013 and served as former Republican Lt. Governor Michael Fedele’s chief of staff and legal counsel.

Lamont said Cafferelli’s time as a drug enforcement lawyer made him well suited to oversee the agency tasked with regulating Connecticut’s new commercial cannabis market.

“Additionally, he is strongly aligned with our administration’s mission of protecting consumers while also streamlining processes to make it easier for the residents and businesses of our state to interact with their government,” the governor said.

Monday’s press release included statements of support from both Senate President Martin Looney, who praised Cafferelli as “highly knowledgeable, fair, and dedicated,” and Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, who congratulated his outgoing lawyer.

“He is committed to protecting consumers, to making our state more affordable, and to helping grow our economy,” Kelly said. “The governor obviously saw that dedication, and we look forward to working with the administration and Attorney Cafferelli on future policies aimed at protecting Connecticut residents and businesses.”

Cafferelli is not the governor’s first appointment of a Republican to lead one of his executive agencies. During his first term he appointed Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate, to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services. He reappointed Boughton to the post back in December. 

Not everyone was thrilled with the DCP appointment, however. Hours before the administration made the announcement, Black Lives Matter 860, a progressive Twitter account made a post criticizing the governor’s pick. 

“This is the man that [Lamont] feels should head [DCP]. Someone [whose] career is locking black men up for cannabis,” the tweet read.

The announcement also follows a Friday report on Kevin Rennie’s Daily Ructions blog, which described a lobbying effort by Democratic policymakers who wanted the governor to appoint another candidate, LAZ Parking Chief Impact Office Nicole Lake.

According to the report, Seagull stepped down because the governor declined to reappoint her for another term at the helm of the agency. On Monday, a spokesman for the governor confirmed that was the case. 

In Monday’s statement, Lamont praised Seagull’s work as commissioner, as he had when he announced her departure in December. Seagull, originally appointed by former Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, oversaw both the beginning of Connecticut’s commercial cannabis market and the state’s first steps into the realms of online casino gambling and sports betting.

“I also want to express my gratitude to Michelle Seagull for her years of service at the agency, providing leadership that has strengthened and modernized many policies and procedures,” Lamont said. “Connecticut’s consumers are safer and our economy is stronger because of her and the team she built, and I thank her for everything she has provided throughout her tenure as commissioner.”