Alexandra Van Nes
Ethics Board: ‘Factual Errors’ in Moynihan’s Statement on Investigation
Contrary to what New Canaan’s highest elected official asserted in a public statement that also contains factual errors, the head of the appointed town body that took up an ethics complaint lodged against him led a fair and nonpartisan investigation, its members say. Tucker Clauss, while serving as chair of the Ethics Board, “made extreme efforts to go right down the middle” in following up on a complaint lodged last November against First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, according to Ethics Board member Robert Schott. “When we went to talk to the complainant, he [Clauss] took somebody from that side of the aisle with him,” Schott said during the Ethics Board’s regular meeting, held Tuesday night at Town Hall.
“When he went to talk to the recipient, he took somebody from that side of the aisle with him. And we gave equal time to both sides of the equation. … For the record, I think it was done fairly, openly and in a nonpartisan fashion.”
Schott cited a letter that Moynihan sent to NewCanaanite.com after the Ethics Board voted 4-1 in favor of a final “Report and Determination” at its May 12 special meeting, with Schott himself casting the dissenting vote (the 15-page document can be read in full here).
In that report, the Ethics Board detailed its monthlong process of discussing the complaint and gathering up information prior to concluding that further investigation was warranted, as well as the communications, additional documentation, public discussion and findings that followed.
In the end, the Board concluded that the letterhead Moynihan had used on a widely distributed endorsement letter backing Republican candidates for the Board of Education last fall appeared “more like the letterhead of an official document than a letterhead serving as a mere identifier and that an appearance of impropriety was caused by its use, particularly when the Letter was to be sent to new residents or new voters who would likely have had little experience with Town officials, Town politics or official town letterhead or correspondence.”
Yet the Code of Ethics, as written, lacks a “sufficiently clear standard” to cite Moynihan for a violation on that basis.