Ethics Charges Have Been Filed Against Former Hartford Corporation Counsel John Rose
January 25, 2011
An outside attorney has been hired to investigate ethics charges filed against former Hartford Corporation Counsel John Rose.
The Hartford Ethics Commission has been reviewing a complaint filed in December by Councilman Larry Deutsch, contending that Rose acted improperly when he accepted work at a local law firm after leaving office last year. Crumbie Law Groups received hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal work through city contracts overseen by Rose when he was still a public official. He took a job with that firm shortly after leaving the city’s employment.
Ethics Commission Chair Bobsie Ness said the hiring of outside counsel shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement of the charges against Rose. Though the commission usually only looks to outside attorneys after they’ve determined that there is “probable cause” to investigate, she said the complaint against Rose was an unusual circumstance.
“We did vote, after we came out of executive session, that we would in fact look to hire outside counsel … particularly for this type of case, we want to make sure that it’s an arms-length interpretation and determination of the ethics code,” says Ness. (Link is a PDF.)
She says the commission has made no determination about the merits of the charges contained in the complaint. Because the allegations involve Rose’s former position as corporation counsel, Ness said it was appropriate to remove the investigation completely from the purview of the city’s legal staff.
Several attorneys currently serving in that office — including Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Nasto, who sits in at ethics commission meetings — were once Rose’s subordinates. Ness declined to provide an estimate of costs for the outsourced legal work, saying it was too hard to predict how much time might be required to review the charges.
Contacted for comment at his office, Rose answered but immediately hung up the phone when a reporter identified himself. A receptionist subsequently said the attorney had stepped away from his desk, and forwarded a second call to Rose’s voicemail system.