Connecticut's Corrupt Political Culture
What's up with the mayors of Connecticut?
For a relatively small state with few big cities, Connecticut seems to keep breeding a lot of bipartisan political corruption. Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, 51, a Democrat who today pleaded not guilty to charges of getting his bathroom remodeled for free by a city contractor, is at least the fifth city leader to be accused of bribery or other crimes in recent years.
And its not just mayors. Gov. John G. Rowland, a Republican, served 10 months in federal prison a few years ago after admitting that he also took free home renovations, as well as trips to Las Vegas and Vermont. Ernest Newton, a former Democratic state senator from Bridgeport, got five years in prison for taking a $5,000 bribe, among other things. And former GOP State Treasurer Paul Silvester served four years in prison for taking bribes and kickbacks to steer investments in the state pension fund.
Hartford's Perez was arrested last week on charges of bribery and falsifying evidence in connection with a $40,000 renovation at his house, which included a bathroom with his-and-her Kohler sinks, a 6-foot whirlpool tub and a $900 digitally controlled steam generator.
The arrest did not come as a complete surprise, because The Hartford Courant had been reporting for nearly two years about alleged corruption in his administration, including allegations that he told a developer to take care of a political boss if he wanted to make a real estate deal happen.
Connecticut officials and others have been calling for Perez to step aside, but so far he is hanging on and says he will fight the charges.
Two Connecticut mayors are in prison at the moment -- former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, a Democrat, convicted of taking more than $500,000 in cash, meals and Oriental rugs as kickbacks and bribes, and former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano, a Republican serving 37 years for sexually abusing two girls.
Waterbury, incidentally, holds the recent record for corruption, not an easy title to achieve in Connecticut. Giordano is the third Waterbury mayor to be indicted while in office in the past two decades.
By The Editors |
February 3, 2009; 2:47 PM ET
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