State Investigates Rell Polling

Two official investigations have begun into Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell’s (R) secret taxpayer-funded polling operation, revealed yesterday by the New London Day.

Rell’s office used taxpayer funds earmarked for a University of Connecticut study into increasing “government efficiency” to run a secret focus groups and polls testing Rell’s policies, her rhetoric and even the viability of a political rival. Rell and her administration has called Democratic outrage at the program “politics at its worst” and claimed it did nothing wrong by funding the polling.

Despite that take, twin investigations were launched into polling by the state government and the university where the polling took place. The Hartford Courant reports:

The two probes, confirmed today in interviews with officials, include:

• A joint investigation by the bipartisan Auditors of Public Accounts and Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal into whether, as Auditor Kevin Johnston put it, “state tax dollars have been used for other than strictly state purposes.” Johnston, a Democrat, said that he and his Republican fellow auditor Robert Jaekle, have spoken Thursday and Friday with Blumenthal about their investigation.

• An inquiry by UConn’s Office of Audit Compliance and Ethics, which university spokesman Michael Kirk said is now “examining the research associated with this project to determine if it may have violated any aspect of UConn’s code of ethics. ” That code includes at least one prohibition against political activity on the job.

Rell’s response after the jump.Rell responded to the outrage today. More from the Courant:

“Zero of that was political,” Rell said during an appearance at a firehouse in Torrington. “I know some have said let’s do an investigation of this. I would welcome that.”

Rell said the outcry Thursday by Democrats was “politics at its worst” by “people who are looking to have my job” and criticizing the work completed by Dautrich.

Saying that she watched “the public spectacle at the state Capitol,” Rell said, “I’m very proud of the work that Ken Dautrich and the University of Connecticut did.”