Sen. McKinney Renews Call for State Inspector General Amidst Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Attorney General Blumenthal

January 7, 2009

Hartford, CT – State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) today renewed his call for establishing a State Office of Inspector General and promised to reintroduce legislation this session. McKinney said a recent lawsuit filed by eight Connecticut state troopers against Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is the latest example underscoring the need for Connecticut to create an independent Office of Inspector General.

The lawsuit alleges that the Attorney General’s dual role – investigating complaints of wrongdoing and, at the same time, defending state agencies – compromises his ability to protect whistleblowers. The Attorney General, for his part, says there are “strong firewalls” in place “to prevent any unethical flow of information.”

McKinney said he trusts the Attorney General has, to the best of his ability, instituted strong firewalls to protect whistleblowers, but that’s not the point. “Under current law, there is an inherent perception problem that intimidates potential whistleblowers,” McKinney said. “As long as whistleblower charges are handled by the same office responsible for defending state agencies against whistleblower complaints, people are going to be afraid to come forward when they have witnessed abuses of power.”

Conversely, McKinney said, “An Office of Inspector General would provide a place where state and municipal employees could safely and confidentially bring allegations about corrupt practices.”

For the past six years, McKinney has proposed the creation of a Connecticut Inspector General to combat waste, fraud and inefficiency in state government. Under his proposal, the State Office of Inspector General would have broad authority to conduct audits and investigations of all facets of state government; access directly all records and information of state agencies; subpoena information and documents; administer oaths when taking testimony; and receive and respond to complaints from agency employees, whose confidentiality would be protected.
McKinney said, “Establishing an Office of Inspector General will make state government more efficient and more accountable. In my opinion, it is a necessary step toward eliminating government corruption, restoring the public’s faith in state agencies and elected officials, and protecting the rights of state employees who blow the whistle when they’ve witnessed wrongdoing.”

In March 2008, following the troubling testimony of several state police officers who expressed their concerns about the state’s ability to protect whistleblowers, Attorney General Blumenthal said he would not oppose an Office of Inspector General if it is proven to be “viable and cost effective.”

The federal government has inspectors general in all executive branch departments, and in most small agencies. In 2006, with a combined operating budget of $1.9 billion, the 57 federal inspector general offices achieved $9.9 billion in potential savings from audit recommendations and $6.8 billion in investigative recoveries.