Former Mayor Tom Bucci (full disclosure: I served on his staff) has issued written testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly considering legislation banning individuals from seeking office who’ve violated the public trust. If passed, the measure would go into effect January 2016. Bucci letter.
I have had the honor of serving as an attorney in Connecticut for more than 30 years and the privilege of serving as the Mayor of Bridgeport from 1985 to 1989.
I am writing to voice my strong support HB-7051 and HB-7052. This proposed legislation is overdue when considering meaningful laws other states have implemented to safeguard the public trust as well as Connecticut’s own experiences over the last two decades.
From a legal perspective, our state prosecutors need the subpoena powers that are essential to not only prosecuting public corruption when it happens but also providing a meaningful deterrent for people.
I believe that the vast majority of people enter public service because they want to serve their community. I also believe that laws must be in place to hold individuals accountable when they betray that public trust. For too long we have acquiesced and relied on the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute political corruption in our own state because we don’t have the legislative and legal resources to address it ourselves.
There certainly will be cases that are the most effectively prosecuted at the federal level. There are also cases that can and should be investigated and prosecuted at the state level. Connecticut should not have to rely on the U.S. Attorney’s Office because our laws are not adequate.
As a former mayor, I find this legislation equally important to maintain trust in the office that I proudly held for four years in the 1980s. It was disheartening to watch a Mayor in the 1990s tear down the principle that I so deeply believe in. We need to do better in addressing those who have egregiously and inexcusably violated their oaths of office, and displayed a selfish contempt for the public they were elected to represent. What is the excuse for their felonious behavior? That they were unaware they were conspiring with others to line their pockets at the expense of the citizens they serve? A mayor must focus on progress and not personal profit. And there needs to be consequences when that is betrayed. We saw Bridgeport set back by more than a decade because of avarice. Until these convicted felons, who have never explained their behavior in a open and forthright manner, explain publicly why they conducted themselves in the way that they did, not just merely mouthing the excuse that they made a mistake, they are not deserving of a second chance.
It didn’t just happen in Bridgeport, it happened across the state, from local municipalities to the state’s highest office. And, it is still happening today, dominating current headlines. Clearly, this is a problem that we have not yet solved.
I support a lifetime ban on corrupt politicians in Connecticut from running for office again. This is not legally unprecedented. Many other states including New York and Michigan have done the same. It makes sense.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal recently said “that there is continuing, unfortunate, tragic public corruption in this state that in fact victimizes taxpayers and ordinary citizens who have the right to more and better government.”
He’s right. Citizens do have the right to more and better government. And, these bills accomplish that. I urge you to support them.
Thank you for your time.
Thomas Bucci, Esq.