Senator Boucher Supports Creation Of A Standing Bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee

June 1, 2009

Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats made the creation of a Bipartisan Standing Committee On Ethics a priority of their respective caucuses for the 2008 Legislative Session. Senate Republicans have been advocating for the measure ever since, and were finally granted an opportunity to vote on Thursday. State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) said she was, therefore, disappointed when all but one Democratic state senator voted against a Republican resolution calling for the creation of a permanent bipartisan committee to consider and, when warranted, act on ethics complaints against state senators.

“Legislatures in 41 other states have ethics committees so it makes absolutely no sense that Connecticut would not create one as well. We should be doing everything we can to safeguard the integrity of the State Senate. And we should be prepared to formally oversee our own behavior. In my 13 years serving in Hartford, there have been a few occasions where personal conduct of a fellow member did merit an internal review process. It concerns me greatly that our constituents might be thinking negatively of us following the refusal of all but one of the Democratic Senators present during the vote to establish a permanent bipartisan ethics committee,” said Senator Boucher.

Senator Boucher joined every other Republican Senator and one Democratic Senator in voting in favor of a Republican resolution to create a permanent bipartisan committee charged with investigating and acting on ethics complaints brought by either government officials or members of the public. Safeguards would have included legal penalties for filing false complaints. As the permanent committee would have included three Democrats and three Republicans, any decision to take action against the subject of an ethics complaint would have been bipartisan.

“Just two years ago, the Senate created a temporary bipartisan ethics committee to consider the situation of a single, Republican State Senator. Ultimately, that State Senator resigned and the committee was disbanded. It makes sense to me that the people we represent would welcome our willingness to establish a permanent bipartisan ethics committee that would be prepared to act whenever action is warranted. Otherwise, rules for determining whether or not an ethics complaint regarding a state senator warrants the creation of a special investigatory committee may become subjective or partisan. The creation of a permanent committee with rules and regulations, rather than doing it on a case by case basis, would ensure that we have a fair, bipartisan, process in place,” said Senator Boucher, adding that she will continue to work with her colleagues to create a permanent bipartisan Senate ethics committee.