State Lawmaker Claimed Trip Violated State Ethics Laws

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is reimbursing People Magazine $1,234.62 for being their guest at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington.

Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba said Thursday the Democratic governor wrote a personal check to reimburse the magazine “to remove a needless distraction when there are far more important public policy issues to deal with.”

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Sen. Republican Leader John McKinney, a potential gubernatorial rival in 2014, issued a news release on Wednesday claiming Malloy violated state ethics law by allowing a corporation to pay for his trip.

People, which invited Malloy as a guest to the annual soiree, is owned by Time Warner Inc.

McKinney called on Malloy to provide all documents and correspondence pertaining to his trip to Saturday’s annual gathering of journalists, government officials, politicians, media personalities and celebrities.

Doba said Malloy’s administration is confident the magazine’s payment would have been proper under Connecticut’s ethics law, saying Malloy attended the event in his official capacity as governor.

“We are confident that People Magazine’s payment would have been proper under Connecticut’s ethics laws. The Governor attended the event in his official capacity and used the opportunity to advance Connecticut’s interests. The Governor’s Office accepted People Magazine’s gift in order to relieve taxpayers of the cost. Instead of shifting the cost to the taxpayers, the Governor is personally paying the cost,” Doba said in his statement.

Doba said the governor was working on behalf of the residents of Connecticut while at the dinner.

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“Governor Malloy engaged in substantive discussions with numerous senior officials. To note just a few discussions among many, he talked with Small Business Administrator Karen Mills about Connecticut’s Hurricane Sandy relief plan and small business investment programs under the JOBS Act, talked with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer about the strategy for pursuing federal gun control legislation, and talked with Congressman Steve Israel about proposals for the establishment of a regional infrastructure bank. And Governor Malloy promoted Connecticut’s economic development agenda in discussions with numerous business and media leaders,” the statement said.

In a statement Thursday, McKinney recognized that Malloy had begun the process of making amends by reimbursing the magazine, but downplayed Malloy’s official role at the event, likening it “talking up Connecticut over champagne and hors d’oeuvres.”

“He and his staff continue to set a bad example for elected officials and state government by defending his actions,” he said. “His dismissive attitude toward state ethics laws sets a dangerous precedent.”

McKinney said he’s looking forward to the advisory opinion from the Office of State Ethics that Malloy’s office requested Wednesday.

But Doba confirmed they’re not following through with the request for an opinion, saying “we believe this resolves the issue.”

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