Letter: Herbst explanation 'misleading'

To the Editor:

As the target of the recent tirade from our first selectman, I was not surprised by his misleading “explanation” of events that have absolutely nothing to do with the complaint I filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC).

That complaint focused on information included in reports easily available to the public. An owner of a construction company, declared by its owner to be a state contractor, contributed to the Trumbull Republican Town Committee (TRTC). If in fact the company held a state contract at the time those contributions were made, the contributions violated state law. The SEEC (not the Trumbull Ethics Commission) is the oversight authority on these matters; and the SEEC has determined that an investigation of those contributions is warranted.

Once the SEEC accepted the complaint, the respondents and I were notified of that decision by mail. Given remarks made about me by at least one of the respondents, it was very clear that they were aware that I was the person who put forward the complaint. Hiding? Hardly.

When this matter was made public, a few additional points were included:

• As part of his 2009 campaign platform, Mr. Herbst stated “By ordinance, any town contractor who has a contract with the Town of Trumbull in excess of $5,000 should not donate to either political party.”

• The contractor and his wife contributed over $5,000 combined to the First Selectman’s own political action committee (Herbst for Trumbull) and the TRTC.

• In July 2013, the contractor was awarded a project valued up to $200,000 without having to provide a bid on the project.

No allegations were made that either the First Selectman or the contracting company violated any laws or regulations beyond those related to the contributions to the TRTC. Nor was there any dispute about the need for repairs at Madison Middle School. The only additional question asked was: Of all the construction companies who have done work in Trumbull, why was THIS contractor selected to receive the no-bid contract?

True to form, Mr. Herbst refused to respond to these very valid questions. Instead, his response was typical: distort, defend, and deflect.

I am not bothered by his personal attacks; this is not the first time the wrath of Mr. Herbst has been directed my way; at this point I am used to it. I am just disappointed that our “leader” continues to believe that scolding and lecturing his constituents is an appropriate response to legitimate questions asked bythose who believe he should be accountable for his actions.

Lisa Labella