Auditor files ethics complaint against elected official

Trumbull’s Ethics Commission has determined there is probable cause to proceed with a hearing on a complaint made against Board of Finance Democrat Tom Kelly.

The ethics complaint was submitted Jan. 14 by the town’s internal auditor James Henderson, claiming that Kelly’s statements at an October 28 meeting of the Board of Education — of which he was an elected member at the time — violated a section of the Trumbull Code of Ethics. The section Henderson cites as being violated reads, “Officials and employees will conduct themselves with propriety, discharge their duties impartially and fairly, and make continuing efforts toward attaining and maintaining the highest standards of performance.”

The complaint has been made public pending the hearing Feb. 13.

Henderson argues that Kelly publicly questioned the auditor’s previous work experience, saying that Henderson had filed a lawsuit against a former employer and had been dismissed from that job for poor performance.

“Mr. Kelly questioned my competency and made false statements regarding my prior work experience,” Henderson’s complaint reads.

Kelly’s comments on Henderson came during a Board of Education discussion of a report submitted by the auditor and titled “School Facilities Snow Removal and Trumbull High School Building Construction Renovation.”

Henderson had filed an ethics complaint last spring, which was later revealed to involve town facilities manager Al Barbarotta and school staff and officials. The Ethics Commission dismissed the complaint. Following the dismissal, the details of the complaint should have remained confidential but some town officials argued that Henderson’s report was in fact the basis of the complaint. At the Oct. 28 meeting, Kelly was among other Board of Education Democrats who criticized the report, saying it contained half-truths and errors. During the meeting, Kelly discussed Henderson’s past work experience and questioned his due diligence on the report. (See original story on Oct. 28 meeting).

Henderson was unable to attend the meeting and in his complaint he cites that it was broadcast on public access television.

“Mr. Kelly questioned my credibility and stated that he wanted to make sure the Board of Education had all the facts about my prior work experience,” the complaint reads

Kelly responded to the ethics complaint Thursday, saying he was notified once the commission decided the complaint would go to a hearing.

“I have confidence in the process and I look forward to telling my side of the story to the Ethics Commission,” Kelly said.

Kelly is active in Trumbull’s political scene and has been a critic of the Herbst administration in the past. He also manages an online forum that discusses town issues at and an EyeOnTrumbull Facebook page. Recently, Kelly was one of two Democrats to file a lawsuit against the town clerk, claiming the clerk refused to accept petitions to conduct a special election.

The Ethics Commission is set to consider the complaint at its Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

First Selectman Timothy Herbst appointed new members to the Ethics Commission following his reelection and has encouraged a revision of the town ethics code.