Herbst, three others meet with Ethics Commission

Former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst is one of four people that recently met with the Ethics Commission.

Former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst is one of four people that recently met with the Ethics Commission.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

After more than two years of inactivity, the Trumbull Ethics Commission has resumed meeting. The panel, which convenes on an ad hoc basis, has met three times since October. Its last meeting before then was in June 2017.

In its most recent meeting, the commission interviewed Finance Director Maria Pires, Labor Relations Director James Haselkamp, Finance Commission Chairman Elaine Hammers, and former First Selectman Tim Herbst. The four were all interviewed in connection with complaint #1-2019, the first of two complaints filed with the commission recently. The commission also discussed #1-2019 at meetings Oct. 12 and Oct. 28. At its Nov. 25 meeting the commission discussed #1-2019, and also began discussions on complaint #2-2019.

Ethics Commission meetings and deliberations are confidential until the commission determines that there is probable cause. Upon finding probable cause the commission will schedule a public hearing. The commission also could dismiss a complaint.

Herbst, the last person to meet with the commission at its Nov. 25 meeting, was the only person to attend the meeting with a lawyer. He was accompanied by Attorney Peter J. Martin, according to the commission’s meeting minutes.

Under the Town Charter, the Ethics Commission does not have regularly scheduled meetings, instead convening upon receipt of a complaint. According to Attorney Thomas Lee, the commission chairman, complaints can be filed by any town official or employee or any member of the public.

To this point, the commission’s recent meetings have been confidential. It is not known who the subject of the complaint is, although it is likely not Herbst, who has been out of office since 2017 and is therefore beyond the commission’s juristiction. The Ethics Commission only has authority over current town officials and employees, or over former officials and employees whose standing with the town has been terminated within the past year.

Herbst, in an emailed comment, said he was “neither the complainant nor the respondent” in #1-2019.

According to town statute, the commission “shall meet in executive session and decide whether to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction or lack of probable cause or to accept the complaint and to proceed with any necessary investigation.” The commission has the power to impose sanctions ranging from a public reprimand, recommendation that a town employee be fired, or a referral to the Town Attorney or State’s Attorney for further legal action.