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Perez' Second Account Had Just Ten E-Mails


February 03, 2009

Mayor Eddie A. Perez was getting so many e-mails in his official city account that his staff says they had to set up a second account this one under the name of Willie Nunez, a childhood friend of the mayor's to better get his attention.

And how many e-mails made it into the Nunez inbox in the roughly three years that the account apparently was active?

Just 10.

"He really didn't use the account," said Susan McMullen, a mayoral aide. "It just proved to be easier ... to walk down and talk to him about things or get him on the phone."The Nunez e-mail account was made public in an arrest warrant application for Perez, who was arrested last Tuesday on bribery charges stemming from work done allegedly at a deep discount on his home by city contractor Carlos Costa.

Following a Freedom of Information Act request by The Courant last year, the city turned over the Nunez account with 10 e-mails in the inbox and none in the sent mail folder or trash folder.

Of the 10, four were trivial a fundraising appeal, a party invitation and two scheduling requests. McMullen says a couple of them might have been dragged into Nunez's account by Perez's executive assistant, who screens the mayor's e-mails.

Of the remaining six, two were sent by then mayoral aide Kelvin Roldan (now a Democratic state lawmaker representing Hartford) and four by McMullen all, apparently, to the attention of the mayor.

In their arrest warrant application, investigators from the office of the chief state's attorney pointed to one e-mail from Roldan to substantiate a claim that Perez had "intervened in matters to benefit Carlos Costa."

On Dec. 30, 2004, Roldan sent what appears to have been the first e-mail to the Nunez account. It dealt specifically with the city's efforts to work with Costa as he built an addition to a Hartford nightclub he owns called the Carioca Club, and it included exchanges with John Palmieri then the city's director of development services.

Roldan didn't send another e-mail to the Nunez account until nine months later, at McMullen's suggestion. That e-mail had to do with a disagreement between Palmieri and Roldan over "rehab facilities."

Evidently frustrated with Palmieri, Roldan forwarded an e-mail between the two to McMullen, quipping, "I wish he would pay attention."

McMullen responded: "You should forward this to Sr. Nunez. (Willy, I mean.)"

Roldan did.

Roldan later told a grand jury investigating allegations of corruption at city hall that he sent e-mails to Perez via the Nunez account "if it's something that is in front of me, at the time, bearing some kind of importance that I think the mayor should know, on a more quicker fashion."

The other four e-mails in the Nunez inbox were from McMullen, asking questions of Perez on various topics and projects. They were all sent between July and September 2005.

The Nunez account "was an attempt to try and streamline the flow of information that never worked properly," McMullen said. "Certainly there was never any attempt to hide anything or be clever. Every e-mail that goes through the city e-mail server is subject to Freedom of Information laws, and we're all very aware of that."

Eric Turner, the managing director and associate general counsel of the state's Freedom of Information Commission, said there's no problem with the mayor having multiple e-mail accounts, as long as they're identifiably his. The problem could arise if there is an attempt at deception, Turner said.

"If you or somebody else went to ask for the records, you wouldn't know about the existence of the other [address]," he said. "If it was in fact done to deceive the public, that could be problematic from an FOI standpoint."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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