Herbst: Democrats owe police chief, officers apology

First Selectman Tim Herbst
First Selectman Tim Herbst

First Selectman Timothy M. Herbst issued the following statement in response to comments made by the leadership of the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee:

Recently, the actions of the Chairman of the Trumbull Police Commission have become a matter of intense public concern. I completely understand and share in those concerns. Recently, I was presented by the media a press release from Trumbull Democrats. While I expect them to attack me, I find it deplorable that they would call into question the integrity of the Trumbull Police Department and the integrity of the Trumbull Ethics Commission.
Every Trumbull resident should know that we have a Chief of Police and a police department that have the highest levels of integrity and believe in the rule of law. When this situation was brought to the attention of Chief Lombardo, he did not waver or hesitate to act because of who was involved. In fact, he made sure this investigation was carried out thoroughly and to the letter of the law. When the investigation was completed, Chief Lombardo didn’t brush the findings under the carpet. He referred this matter to the State Attorney’s office to determine if criminal prosecution was warranted. Chief Lombardo allowed prosecutors, independent of the Town of Trumbull, make a decision as to whether enough evidence existed to charge Mr. McGovern with a crime. The prosecutors responded that they would not bring criminal charges.

We could have simply referred this matter to the State’s Attorney and washed our hands of the matter. We did not pursue that course of action. We took it a step further. At my request, a special meeting of the Police Commission was called and the commission concurred with my recommendation to refer this matter to the Trumbull Ethics Commission. As I have consistently said, there are two determinations to be made - - what is criminal and what is ethical. I have full confidence in the Trumbull Ethics Commission. A professor of ethics at Quinnipiac Law School, clergy, a retired police officer and a former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut all sit on this panel. They will go where the truth takes them and they will conduct a fair and thorough process.

When confronted with a very difficult and troubling situation, we didn’t turn the other cheek. We took the problem head on, despite the fact that many of us have professional and personal relationships with the individual in question.

Mr. Kelly is right about one thing. There is a very big difference between how I and Trumbull Democrats handle matters like this one. I will not allow friendship, personal relationships or political support to get in the way of doing the right thing. Undoubtedly, Mr. Kelly is questioning the integrity of the Ethics Commission because it was this same Ethics Commission that in 2014 unanimously sanctioned him 6-0 for unethical conduct.

After this sanction, he was sued by the aggrieved party for defamation of character. A few years back, a town contractor with close ties to Governor Malloy was taken before the Trumbull Ethics Commission. At the time, Mr. Kelly, a Board of Education member, suggested that the town reimburse this contractor for his legal expenses. This same contractor is now under active criminal investigation by both the FBI and the United States Department of Justice for his activity in at least four separate municipalities, including Trumbull.

And since this news has broken, we haven’t heard a word from Mr. Kelly or his colleagues on this matter and there is good reason.

This same contractor has donated thousands upon thousands of dollars to the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee. This contractor was seated in the front row when Vicki Tesoro announced her campaign for First Selectman in 2015. And this contractor has worked in concert with local Democrats to file multiple, frivolous lawsuits in an effort to assist them in their efforts to construct a political narrative.

Press releases ring hollow in the absence of leadership. The lack of consistency from Trumbull Democrats based upon the facts described above demonstrate just how political their actions have become. More troubling, their comments besmirching the Trumbull Police Department and the Trumbull Ethics Commission are beyond the pale. They owe Chief Lombardo and the hard working men and women of the Trumbull Police Department a full apology. They also owe Chairman Lee and his panel a complete apology.