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2 Inquiries Focus On Contract Between UConn Professor

And Rell For Efficiency Study
By JON LENDER and In her first comments to reporters Rell’s office and Dautrich both
CHRISTOPHER KEATING on the controversy, the Republican denied any politics were involved
October 9, 2009 governor said Friday that none in the study Thursday when the
of the study money was used for issue arose in a story by The Day
Official investigations have political purposes. of New London.
begun — on two fronts — into
University of Connecticut “Zero of that was political,” Rell However, The Courant has
Professor Kenneth Dautrich’s said during an appearance at a obtained copies of May 6 e-mails
$220,000, taxpayer-funded firehouse in Torrington. Rell said, between Dautrich and Rell’s chief
contract with Gov. M. Jodi “I’m very proud of the work that of staff, M. Lisa Moody, that have
Rell’s administration to do a Ken Dautrich and the University a distinctly political ring to them.
government-efficiency study that of Connecticut did.” Here is the exchange:
produced controversial political
research and advice for how Rell One key official reviewing • Dautrich, on his personal e-
should tailor her stances to please the material will be Rachel mail account, at 5:28 p.m.: “A
voters. Rubin, now UConn’s director few things I’ve gathered over
of compliance, who served as the past day or two: OFA [the
In interviews Friday, officials Rell’s ethics counsel starting in legislative Office of Fiscal
confirmed two investigations: 2004, when Rell took office. Analysis] has done an analysis
Rell appointed Rubin to that that says there are substantial cost
• A joint investigation by the new position while proclaiming savings by combining the back
bipartisan auditors of public ethics and good government as office functions of the SS [social
accounts and state Attorney her watchwords. Rubin left the service] agencies. Dems love the
General Richard Blumenthal governor’s office for UConn after idea — and for good reason. You
into whether, as Auditor Kevin about a year and a half. might want to come out with it
Johnston put it, “state tax dollars first (risking, of course, that the
have been used for other than The two new investigations Dems may then be against it).
strictly state purposes.” appear to guarantee that the With the help of a few people, I
Dautrich study will continue as think I can put a plan together on
• An inquiry by UConn’s Office both a legal and political issue for this pretty quickly ...”
of Audit Compliance and Ethics, weeks, if not months.
which university spokesman • Moody, in reply, on her state
Michael Kirk said is “examining One question is whether account, at 7:02 p.m.: “I think
the research associated with Dautrich’s contract with the you should pursue — give Bob
this project to determine if it budget office has any provisions G. [state budget director Robert
may have violated any aspect that allow for the public opinion Genuario] a call on this — he
of UConn’s code of ethics.” sampling that he did in a 2008 can give you some folks to help.
That code includes at least one “focus group.” This is a focus of the Democrats,
prohibition against political and, as you say, I would rather we
activity on the job. frame it than they frame it.”
Friday night, when asked the focus group, intended to help he has used in the past for his own
how those e-mails could not the administration deal with research. Democrats suggested
be considered political, Rell budget deficits, adding that it that Dautrich’s actions amounted
spokeswoman Donna Tommelleo was legitimate to find out what to an illegal “in-kind,” or non-
declined comment. citizens want from leaders. cash, campaign contribution to
Rell. He said his discussion of the
The study by Dautrich, a polling Blumenthal, a Democrat, since partisan poll — with someone he
expert, came under immediate fire then has taken himself out of wouldn’t identify — was unrelated
Thursday by Democrats who said the running for his party’s 2010 to his state study.
Rell had used taxpayer money gubernatorial nomination.
for personal political purposes to On Friday, Rell said that her
produce what constituted political Documents show that in June campaign treasurer will ask state
advice — including a “focus 2008 Dautrich crafted a 27- elections officials if the campaign
group” on Dec. 16, 2008, that question poll that included should pay any expenses.
covered subjects such as whether questions to determine voter
citizens hold the governor in “high preferences in matchups between “I do not believe that there was
regard.” Rell and Blumenthal, and Rell an in-kind contribution,” Rell
and then-House Speaker James said, but “if there is in any way
The “focus group” of nine Amann, also a Democrat, for a cause to say there was an in-
people in Wethersfield discussed the 2010 election. Dautrich kind contribution, then what I’m
opinions of the relative leadership said the poll idea was dropped. going to do is ask our treasurer to
qualities of Rell and a potential Still, his poll proposal, with its amend the report. If there is any
2010 Democratic opponent, political questions, was among his fine, we will pay that fine.”
Blumenthal. communications with Moody.
More than $100,000 of the
Observing from behind the one- Moody has been controversial $220,000 in state money has
way mirror were three Rell aides, in the past. Her improper been spent, and the 30-month
including Matthew Fritz and fundraising activities on the job effort is scheduled to end around
Moody. at the Capitol in 2005 drew a December 2010. “I think the state
two-week suspension. In recent got more than its money’s worth,”
“When asked if Governor weeks, Democrats have blasted Rell said.
Rell or Attorney General Rell’s office over its recent
Blumenthal fit these [leadership] failure to produce a potentially Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant
characteristics” such as embarrassing Moody e-mail
“principled” and “consistent,” requested by The Courant. The
“many of the participants e-mail was released only after
agreed that Blumenthal fit the sources said it had been withheld.
characteristics well. ... Most held Now, her involvement with
the governor in high regard. ... We Dautrich’s study has again drawn
recommend emphasis not only criticism — but so far Rell has
on solving the budget deficit by refused to criticize Moody over
eliminating waste, but also on the the recent missing-e-mail episode
governor’s vision for the future of or this new issue.
Connecticut,” Dautrich wrote to
Moody and Fritz after the focus Rell’s exploratory campaign
group. committee for 2010 did a poll
earlier this year, and Dautrich
Dautrich said the discussion of looked over the questions and
Rell’s and Blumenthal’s leadership results before and after it was
emerged spontaneously during performed by a New Jersey firm