BERLIN - House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz acknowledged that he attached an amendment to a bill that the state ethics board says clearly removes protections of all forms of nepotism at the state’s higher education institutions.
The amendment came from Aresimowicz after his conversation with University of Connecticut head football coach Randy Edsall at a CIAC All-State football coaches dinner, the Berlin Democrat said.
In July 2017, the Citizens Ethics Advisory Board ruled that the hiring of Corey Edsall, the coach’s son, as a tight end coach was an ethics violation, but that the younger Edsall could keep his job through the 2017 season.
The Edsalls have appealed the decision and, in December, a judge ruled Corey Edsall could keep his job through the appeals process.
Randy Edsall discussed that situation with Aresimowicz and other legislative leaders at the dinner in January.
Having heard Edsall’s issue, Aresimowicz, head coach of Berlin High School’s football team, said he told the UConn coach the legislature would handle it.
Aresimowicz added wording to a state bill concerning data storage and transmission of public data saying that an employee of the state’s higher education system can work with an immediate family member in the same department - as long as procedures are in place to have decisions impacting financial interests of either employee made by another state employee.
The amendment wasn’t “tacked on” in the dark, Aresimowicz said, adding that he and Republican leadership caucused about it and that it went through the regular legislative review process.
Aresimowicz said Randy Edsall is not being allowed to make any financial or supervision decisions for his son.
Carol Carson, executive director of the Office of State Ethics, said Tuesday that the legislation drafted by Aresimowicz “removes the safeguards by the Office of State Ethics for all instances of nepotism throughout the state higher education system in Connecticut.”
She and the Citizens Ethics Advisory Board met for over an hour in a closed-door session during a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the issue, she said.
The board released a statement Wednesday attacking Aresimowicz’s action, saying it eroded accountability.
The act of nepotism may lead to favoritism of family members over other employees, the board has said in previous advisory opinions.
“They got it wrong,” said Aresimowicz, adding that people in private business hire family members all the time.
Aresimwoicz told The Herald on Thursday that he understands people have concerns about the amendment and tightening the language to ensure family employee favoritism safeguards. He said the issue may be looked at in the next legislative session.