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Stefanowski announces running mate, plans to fight corruption

Stefanowski presser State Represntative Laura Devlin speaks at a press conference Tuesday alongside gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski.
Kay Perkins
/
WNPR
State Rep. Laura Devlin speaks at a news conference Tuesday alongside gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski.

Republican candidate for governor Bob Stefanowski announced at a news conference Tuesday morning that state Rep. Laura Devlin will be his running mate.

Devlin, who represents Fairfield and Trumbull in District 134, is the Deputy Republican Leader in the state House of Representatives.

Stefanowski called Devlin “an outsider like me” and praised her leadership style in the House and her managerial experience. She previously worked as vice president of communications at Pfizer. Stefanowski said he believes Devlin shares his commitment to lowering the cost of living in Connecticut and cited her efforts in preventing Gov. Ned Lamont from reinstating tolls on Connecticut highways.

The two spent much of the news conference criticizing current Gov. Ned Lamont and his administration and reaffirming their pledge to investigate fraud and waste at the state level. Stefanowski blamed the Lamont administration for recent scandals.

“Gov. Lamont’s own administration is under an FBI investigation for corruption for the misuse of school contracts,” Stefanowski said, referencing allegations of nepotism against members of Lamont’s administration.

“He’s failed to put basic controls and policies in place to protect our money. And we’re seeing an explosion of fraud, waste, and abuse across the state because of it,” Stefanowski said.

“During the height of COVID, the state of Connecticut awarded a $26 billion no-bid contract to a company called Sema4 owned by the governor’s own wife,” Stefanowski said.

This is a mischaracterization of Lamont’s ties to the company: While a firm owned by Annie Lamont invested in Sema4, she does not own the company. Lamont has previously stated that his family has not personally made money from the investment and that if he did, he would donate the profits to charity.

Stefanowski pledged to make his own tax returns public and put his own assets into a blind trust — having someone else in charge of his money to prevent him from making policy decisions based on how it might affect his personal finances.

Stefanowski also said that if he is elected, he will audit “every dollar” of federal coronavirus relief money and investigate each department individually for potential fraud and waste. The pledge comes as state officials consider whether to take over the finances of the city of West Haven, after an FBI investigation alleged that certain city officials misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal COVID relief funds.

Lamont responded to Stefanowski’s comments about the West Haven situation at his own news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve got zero tolerance for this stuff,” Lamont said. “This is one of 169 towns, and I want to make sure it’s the only one.”

“Our Office of Policy and Management put in place an audit and discovered they at best misclassified [and at] worst were very sloppy with documentation. I find that inexcusable.”

Jeff Beckham, interim head of the Office of Policy and Management, elaborated on how the Lamont administration plans to handle the West Haven situation.

“We’re going to be taking a very hard look at their operations going forward, and we’re going to insist on much greater financial controls, governance protocols and the like going forward,” said Beckham. “We’ll get to a better place with West Haven one day.”

“‘One day’ meaning tomorrow,” Lamont chimed in.

Beckham was recently appointed as head of the Office of Policy and Management to replace Melissa McCaw, who previously supervised one of the former officials currently under investigation.

Stefanowski and Devlin are expected to easily win the Republican Party’s nomination and face Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz in the November election.