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Democrats Accuse Rell Of Spending Taxpayer Money Improperly

POLITICS “When asked if Governor Rell or Blumenthal and then-House Speaker
By JON LENDER and Attorney General Blumenthal fit James Amann for the 2010 election.
CHRISTOPHER KEATING these [leadership] characteristics” But Dautrich said the poll idea was
October 9, 2009 such as “principled” and “consistent” dropped.
“many of the participants agreed that
Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Blumenthal fit the characteristics Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy
administration came under fire well. ... Most held the governor DiNardo said that an investigation is
Thursday, accused of spending in high regard. ... We recommend needed by the state attorney general,
taxpayer money for personal political emphasis not only on solving the state ethics officials, state auditors
purposes by hiring a University of budget deficit by eliminating waste, — or all of them. “It’s beyond
Connecticut polling expert to conduct but also on the governor’s vision for outrageous that Gov. M. Jodi Rell
a study on issues, including whether the future of Connecticut,” Dautrich used ... taxpayer dollars to fund
citizens hold the governor in “high wrote to Moody and Fritz after the what was, in essence, a focus group
regard” as a leader. focus group. to gauge support for her possible
re-election bid next year,” DiNardo
The controversy involves a “focus Rell’s office and Dautrich both said. “We also have Chief of Staff M.
group” of nine people in Wethersfield insisted that nothing was amiss. Lisa Moody centrally involved in yet
that dealt with opinions of the Dautrich said the focus group was another ethical lapse.”
relative leadership qualities of Rell only a $2,200 part of a larger study
and a potential 2010 Democratic that dealt with big issues and, he said, Democrats have blasted Rell’s office
opponent, Attorney General Richard has helped to save millions. over its recent failure to produce a
Blumenthal. potentially embarrassing Moody e-
Dautrich said the discussion of Rell’s mail requested by The Courant. The
Observing participants from behind and Blumenthal’s leadership emerged e-mail was released only after sources
the one-way mirror were two Rell spontaneously during the focus group, said it had been withheld.
aides, Matthew Fritz, and Rell’s intended to help the administration
intensely political chief of staff, M. deal with budget deficits, adding that Rell’s exploratory campaign
Lisa Moody, according to Kenneth it was legitimate to find out what committee for 2010 did a poll earlier
Dautrich, the UConn professor who citizens want from their leaders. this year, and Dautrich looked over
ran the focus group. the questions and results before
Blumenthal since then has taken and after it was performed by a
Moody’s improper fundraising himself out of the running for New Jersey firm he has hired in
activities on the job at the Capitol in his party’s 2010 gubernatorial his research. Democrats suggested
2005 drew a two-week suspension. nomination. But Stamford Mayor that Dautrich’s actions amounted
Now, her involvement with Dautrich’s Dannel Malloy is still running, and to an illegal “in-kind” campaign
$220,000 study — shown in e-mails he said it “appears that Gov. Rell used contribution to Rell. He said his
and memorandums — has again taxpayer money for her own political discussion of the partisan poll — with
drawn criticism. benefit. ... If true, it means she paid to someone he wouldn’t identify — was
find out what people wanted to hear, unrelated to his state study.
Democrats slammed Rell after The and then she told them exactly that
Day of New London reported that — knowing it wasn’t true, but that it Rell’s office would not confirm
Dautrich, a Moody confidant, has might work for her politically.” or deny Dautrich’s account of the
been studying how to streamline presence of Moody and Fritz at the
government — and has suggested Documents show that in June 2008 focus group.
political stances for Rell to Moody Dautrich crafted a 27-question poll
Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant
and other aides. matching Rell against Democrats