Sen. McKinney Calls on Gov. Malloy to Explain Gift from People Magazine

May 1, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) is calling on Governor Dannel Malloy to answer all questions and provide all documents and correspondence pertaining to his recent trip to Washington D.C. following reports that the governor’s travel, accommodations and entertainment, estimated to have cost at least $1000, were a gift by People Magazine. Accepting such a gift puts the governor in violation of state ethics laws. During his trip the governor attended the White House Correspondents Dinner and related after parties.

“The Governor is in clear violation of state ethics laws,” said Senator McKinney. “Allowing a corporation to pay for his travel and entertainment expenses on a non-official visit constitutes inappropriate use of the governor’s office for personal financial gain – period. Governor Malloy needs to account for his actions and make amends.”

Connecticut’s Office of State Ethics has ruled that it is an “illegal use of office for personal gain” in violation of section 1-84(c) of the general statutes for any public official to accept gifts in excess of $100/year from a non-restricted donor. McKinney said this rule is designed to stop corporations, like People Magazine and its parent company Time Inc., from spending lavishly to entertain government officials. Thus, despite the governor’s claimed defense, it is irrelevant that People Magazine and Time Inc. are not lobbyists. However, it is worth noting that Time Inc. is a member of the Association of Magazine Media, which does employ a lobbyist in Connecticut.

Governor Malloy has attempted to explain his ethical violation by contending that he was “marketing the state of Connecticut” while in Washington D.C. and citing his participation in some ancillary meetings about the digital media industry in addition to his attendance at the White House Correspondents Dinner and related parties. But this explanation still leaves the governor in violation of state ethics laws.

“This is not comparable to the governor attending the World Economic Forum in Davos where he represented the economic interests of our state and was a speaker on the forum’s agenda. The primary purpose of his latest trip was clearly to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, an extravagant and expensive entertainment event,” Senator McKinney said. “The governor cannot transform a social event like this into a business meeting merely by talking up the state over champagne and hors d’oeuvres, nor can he transform this into a legitimate business trip by scheduling some brief ancillary meeting with a federal official or business group. If the Governor is seriously claiming that his attendance at the White House Correspondents Dinner was legitimate state business, he should produce the invitation to attend describing the purpose, the agendas for the event, a list of discussion topics, meeting minutes, and any other evidence of the official purpose and business conducted on behalf of the state.”

Senator McKinney added, “Our ethics laws are meant, not only to eliminate bribes and conflicts of interest in state government, but to also prohibit public officials from using their state office to obtain free services and perks. Based on the facts as we know them, Governor Malloy broke the law. If he has evidence to the contrary, he should come forward and say so, but every explanation to date has been unsatisfactory. The proper remedy would be for him to admit his fault and personally repay all of the expenses associated with his trip.”