Last Year the state – i.e. Governor Dannel Malloy and majority Democrats in Connecticut’s General Assembly -- decided to end its long-time practice of sending out paper checks for tax refunds. The state decided instead to use refund cards for a variety of purposes, including the refunding of tax over-payments.
When state Senate leader John McKinney, now a Republican gubernatorial hopeful, called for a hearing on the change, autocratic Democrats snickered that a public hearing was quite unnecessary. Indeed, the Republican Party, it would seem, was quite unnecessary. Go away.
It turns out that some data in the cards has now been exposed to possible identity theft. About 14,335 accounts have been breached, and State tax commissioner Kevin Sullivan, who once served in the state Senate with Mr. McKinney, is still snickering.
Mr. McKinney once again has called for a hearing, this time on the breach of private information, including social security numbers and other data that those affected by the breach would rather not share with potential criminals. Mr. Sullivan has responded, “Senator McKinney wants to have a hearing on everything, and I appreciate that his gubernatorial campaign needs [publicity]. His response to everything is to have a hearing.’’
Naturally, Democrats such as Mr. Sullivan, who now control all the levers of state government – including the governor’s office, both houses of the General Assembly, committee chairs and appreciative judges– are hearing shy, because public hearings tend to shine a spotlight in dark corners and prevent autocratic Democrats from hiding political dirt under their rugs. Progressive experts especially would rather banish from the halls of power taxpayers and other milch cows who do not understand that governing is best left to credentialed experts in government, provided they are progressive enthusiasts and not odious members of the Tea Party.
One understands; one sympathizes. In a one party state, the governing class can well afford to overlook such democratic measures in support of ethical government as public hearings and bi-partisan legislatures. The governing autocrat does not appreciate eyes – hostile eyes at that! – peering over his shoulder when he wants to slip one by alert members of the General Assembly, or reward with an unexamined contract someone who may contribute generously to his campaign, or stave off an annoying question put to him by a wide-awake reporter not yet in thrall to the prevailing regime.
Mr. Sullivan has advised Mr. McKinney that any problems arising from the selection of JP Morgan Chase as a business agent responsible for the hacked accounts will be settled, so to speak, in-house. The legislature, so far, has not been involved in crafting the public’s business; why complicate matters by insisting on a public hearing now?
Following Mr. Sullivan’s too hasty rejection of Mr. McKinney’s call for a legislative investigation, Mr. McKinney noted he had sent a letter to Mr. Sullivan and state Treasurer Denise Nappier: “If Commissioner Sullivan is afraid to come before the legislature and answer questions, I would hope he would answer the questions I sent him in the letter. It is certainly not in keeping with an administration that claims to be open and transparent. The old cliché is if you have nothing to hide, why don’t you come out and talk about it?’’
Why indeed? A frank and unvarnished answer to Mr. McKinney’s question might run as follows: 1) Mr. Malloy has made it clear from the beginning of his administration that minority Republicans are not to play a significant role in the state’s new one party government, a message first pressed upon Republicans when Mr. Malloy shooed them from the room during budget negotiations with Connecticut’s fourth branch of government, public employee unions; 2) public hearings are unnecessary in any progressive government that relies chiefly upon “rule by a body of experts,” most of whom are engaged in refashioning the state along lines acceptable to enlightened progressives; 3) in case non-progressives in Connecticut’s new one party state are having some difficulty in deciphering the operative rule of the Malloy administration, it is this: Everything in the progressive state; nothing outside the progressive state; nothing above the progressive state. Is that clear enough?
But, of course, Mr. Sullivan and other Malloyalists may wish to dress up their messages in more acceptable rhetorical garb – furnished, as usual, by such experts as Mr. Roy Occhiogrosso, Vice President of Global Strategy and Mr. Malloy’s flack catcher in waiting.
Mr. Sullivan, faced with the prospect of a possible legislative hearing, later changed his mind, according to a recent story. Those who laugh last, laugh best.