ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG STATEMENT REGARDING SANDY HOOK WORKER'S ASSISTANCE PROGRAM(Hartford, CT) – Last February, Rep. Mitch Bolinsky informed the Office of the Attorney General of a state trooper who had been denied compensation by the Sandy Hook Worker's Assistance Program. The reason given for denial was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United Labor Agency and Office of Victim Services stating the funds would be used exclusively for school personnel. Believing that to be contrary to donor and legislative intent, Rep. Bolinsky sought assistance from the Office of the Attorney General.
Attorney General Tong met personally with Rep. Bolinsky on February 27, 2019 to discuss the matter. Following that meeting, Attorney General Tong directed Assistant Attorneys General in the Charities division to review the MOU and to clarify donor and legislative intent. After months of negotiations, the Office of the Attorney General restructured and redrafted the MOU to accurately reflect donor intent. A new MOU was signed on June 26, 2019 that restored police access to the fund. The Office of the Attorney General also addressed the reimbursement concern with respect to the state trooper.
The Office of the Attorney General first learned of the comingled funds outlined in the State Auditor report the evening of December 4, 2019. The Office of the Attorney General is currently carefully reviewing that report and evaluating further action. At a minimum, further action may be necessary to determine the following:
1. How funds were comingled and disbursed;
2. Procedures going forward to ensure adequate protection of the funds; and
3. How and where funds should be maintained going forward.
The following is a statement from Attorney General William Tong:
"When my office was made aware of a problem regarding police access to the fund, I immediately directed attorneys in my Charities division to negotiate a new agreement. I thank them for their diligence in crafting an improved memorandum of understanding that ensures access for both police and educators-- accurately reflecting donor and legislative intent.
"The Auditor's report has revealed very serious problems that require thorough review and investigation. At a minimum, we need to understand how any comingled funds were spent, what procedures are in place now to ensure protection of the funds going forward, and whether it makes sense to designate a new entity to safely maintain these funds and provide much needed transparency.
This is not a political issue. I will not allow this and the Sandy Hook community to be used mere days from the anniversary of the most horrific tragedy our state has endured in my lifetime. I look forward to working collaboratively towards a solution that protects both donor intent, and supports the ongoing needs of our courageous Sandy Hook educators and police officers."