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Senate and House Republican Leaders Call for Public Hearing on COVID-19 Relief Funds Distribution

Posted on October 21, 2021


HARTFORD – Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) and House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford), joined by fellow Republican leaders, are calling for a legislative public hearing next week on the distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funds, following the allegations of improper and fraudulent use of funds in West Haven.

The CT Republican leaders wrote to the co-chairs of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee to request an immediate public hearing to bring transparency to the COVID-19 relief funding distribution process overseen by Governor Ned Lamont’s administration.

The lawmakers also wrote to Governor Ned Lamont’s budget office raising questions about the administration’s process for distributing, reviewing, and safeguarding pandemic relief funds.

“The people of Connecticut had no choice but to trust that the Governor’s administration would create a system to properly distribute and safeguard these funds intended to help residents and communities recover during one of the most challenging times of a generation,” the Republican lawmakers including Senator Kelly, Representative Candelora, Senator Paul Formica, Senator Craig Miner, and Representative Mike France wrote. “To learn that the system in place did not protect against the alleged theft of more than half the funds awarded to a town in need is deeply troubling. It demands the immediate attention of the legislature, the representatives of the people.”

“It is unacceptable for government to suggest that current protocols are sufficient because this problem has now come to light. We must have a system that prevents against the misuse of the funds in the first place, not one that acts only after an FBI investigation of alleged wrongdoing and the loss of over $600,000. Disturbingly, people in need in West Haven lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of relief. We cannot allow that to happen to another community in need, and therefore must act to protect these relief funds designed to help individuals, families, and communities hurting from the pandemic.”

“We are talking about funding that was intended to help the most vulnerable, to provide immediate aid to those struggling, to keep our communities safe and healthy, and to help people rebuild and recover. We need answers and full transparency from the Governor’s administration. We have a long road ahead to rebuild trust.”

The lawmakers posed the following questions to the Governor’s administration:

1) What is the process by which towns can apply for CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act) payments?

2) Where is that process articulated and how was it communicated to the towns?

3) Have any other towns in addition to West Haven been flagged for audit or review?

4) What documentation is required for a municipality to obtain a CARES Act payment?

5) What documentation are cities and towns required to report to OPM by October 22, 2021?

6) Why is the interim reporting period 14 months in length (July 2020 – September 2021)? Why were municipalities not required to submit a report prior to this month?

7) What due diligence is done on vendors receiving CARES Act money?

8) Is there a standard review process for verifying certifications submitted by the towns?

9) Why was the initial certification process changed for the reporting period of July 2020 – September 2021?

10) How is it that OPM would authorize payments approved by a municipal agent on behalf of a company for which that agent is a registered member?

11) What controls are in place to review CARES Act expenditure to vendors in excess of $100,000 in the aggregate?

12) What controls are in place to review CARES Act expenditure to vendors in excess of $250,000 in the aggregate?

13) What controls are in place to review CARES Act expenditure to vendors in excess of $500,000 in the aggregate?

14) What controls are in place to review CARES Act expenditure to vendors in excess of $1,000,000 in the aggregate?

15) What controls are in place to review multiple payments made to the same vendor?

16) Who are all of the individuals involved at OPM in the distribution of funds to municipalities?

17) Who are all of the individuals involved in the sign-off on the payments to the Town of West Haven? What was the responsibility of each?

18) Can we please have copies of all the submissions for reimbursement for CARES Act money submitted by the Town of West Haven?

19) Can we please have all communications to and from the Office of Policy and Management and the City of West Haven regarding CARES Act funds?

20) To the extent that there is an application process for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that differs from CARES Act, please provide responses to the above questions as they apply to ARPA funds.