Governor: Attorney General Would Be Fired If It Was Up To Me | Connecticut News

By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday he would fire Connecticut’s chief prosecutor — if he had the authority — for “ethical malfeasance,” a day after an independent report raised suspicions about the hiring by the prosecutor of a person in charge of the state budget. girl.

The Democratic Governor spoke to Chief State Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. at an independent press conference.

“As far as Colangelo, I’m not hiring him, I’m not firing him,” Lamont said. “But if I did, he would be gone.”

Colangelo’s attorney, James Glasser, said in a statement Thursday that Colangelo did nothing wrong when he hired the budget officer’s daughter in 2020. At the time, Colangelo was lobbying the office of the budget to obtain salary increases for the prosecutors in his office.

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“In hindsight, Mr. Colangelo should have been more sensitive to the issues of a conflict of interest arising when making hiring decisions,” Glasser said. “Mr. Colangelo is a dedicated career prosecutor who is well regarded by his colleagues, the judges and the defense bar. It is truly unfortunate that his motives are now challenged and his actions questioned.”

A message seeking comment from Colangelo was left for his spokesperson on Thursday. He denied wrongdoing.

Also Thursday, the chairman of the state Criminal Justice Commission, which has the authority to hire and fire the state’s chief prosecutors, released a statement about the investigation and Colangelo.

“The report’s findings are quite startling and raise deeply serious questions about whether the Chief State’s Attorney can continue to perform the duties of the constitutional office he holds,” the president wrote. Connecticut Supreme Court Associate Justice Andrew McDonald.

The commission is asking Attorney General William Tong’s office for guidance on the due process that would be required if it held a hearing on whether to remove Colangelo, McDonald said, adding that no chief prosecutor has ever been fired.

In his comments, Lamont also said, “I have zero tolerance for this kind of ethical malfeasance and the Deputy OPM is gone very soon.”

Lamont referred to former Deputy Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, Konstantinos Diamantis, whose hiring of the daughter by Colangelo in 2020 spurred the independent investigation. The report says Colangelo hired Diamantis’ daughter while pressuring OPM officials, including Diamantis, for pay raises for prosecutors in his office.

Diamantis was placed on paid leave in October for what officials called “alleged misconduct”, and he submitted a letter of resignation and retirement the same day.

Lamont referred the factual findings of the independent investigation led by former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy Jr. to state ethics officials and the Criminal Justice Commission. The investigation report was made public on Wednesday.

Lamont’s office has yet to release Twardy’s legal findings and recommendations, which were provided verbally, a Lamont spokesperson said.

Diamantis also denied doing anything wrong. A message seeking comment was left for him on Thursday.

Diamantis told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Twardy’s investigation found no wrongdoing and nothing in the report raised any red flags about his daughter’s hiring, noting that “the prosecutor Chief of State may hire by law and constitution any person he chooses to accomplish his mission. It’s his choice. »

Diamantis said that while he was in the Office of Policy and Management, Colangelo’s salary increase requests were denied on different occasions.

Colangelo told investigators that pay raises for top nonunion prosecutors in his office were needed because they were poised to earn less than lower-level unionized prosecutors statewide.

“But the simple truth is that Mr. Colangelo was only motivated by his interest in setting an unbalanced pay scale for the benefit of his employees, the state and the people of Connecticut; he did absolutely nothing improper in trying to right that past wrong,” Glasser said.

Diamantis’ daughter, Anastasia Diamantis, did not return a message seeking comment.

Colangelo hired Anastasia Diamantis as an executive assistant in his office with a starting salary of $99,000, effective July 3, 2020. No one else was interviewed for the position.

Colangelo and Konstantinos Diamantis denied having previously discussed working for Anastasia Diamantis, according to Twardy’s report.

But about a month before Anastasia Diamantis was hired, according to the report, Colangelo sent her father an email containing descriptions of two open jobs in Colangelo’s office. Konstantinos Diamantis then forwarded the email to his daughter. The email contained no context to inform Konstantinos Diamantis of the jobs, according to the investigation report.

“However, the fact that Mr. Diamantis forwarded the email to Anastasia despite the absence of a message in the body of Mr. Colangelo’s email urging him to do so suggests that Mr. Colangelo and Mr. Diamantis had discussed a job for Anastasia,” the report states.

The report also revealed that Colangelo, Konstantinos Diamantis and Anastasia Diamantis gave contradictory statements to certain questions from investigators that “questioned the integrity of the circumstances surrounding Anastasia’s hiring”.

Konstantinos Diamantis is also being investigated by the FBI and a federal grand jury in connection with hundreds of millions of dollars in state spending on school building projects and pier improvements. of State in New London, according to a federal subpoena released Wednesday. . The subpoena is dated October 20, eight days before Konstantinos Diamantis was furloughed and resigned.

Konstantinos Diamantis, a lawyer and former Democratic state representative, had overseen the state’s school construction funding program for the last six years of his state job.

It’s not clear from the subpoena what exactly federal authorities are investigating. A spokesperson for the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office, which subpoenaed the state’s records, declined to comment.

Diamantis declined to comment on the federal investigation Wednesday. He previously said he believed he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

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