Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra's announcement Sunday that he'll amend his city ethics disclosures concerning his spouse's income from federal rent subsidies drew a blast Monday from a potential opponent in this year's mayoral election, who demanded broad-ranging public disclosures from Segarra.
The Courant reported Sunday that Segarra's spouse, Charlie Ortiz, collects about $2,000 a month in federal Section 8 rent subsidies as the landlord for two low-income tenants in apartments that he owns. The subsidies, totaling more than $120,000 in the nearly five years that Segarra has been a councilman and now mayor, are under a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development "housing choice voucher program" administered locally by the city. HUD now is reviewing the matter.
"By amending his city ethics filings, Mayor Segarra has conceded that he has violated the City Ethics Code and has put funding for a critical federal housing program for low-income residents at risk," said Rep. Kelvin Roldan, D-Hartford, who is considering a run for mayor this year. "In light of this, I am calling on Mayor Segarra to disclose all the properties and businesses owned by his household and to document all the payments of taxpayer dollars made to him and his family since he became a member of the city council in 2006."
Sarah Barr, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said later Monday that the mayor's plan to revise his ethics filings — which she said he will do by the end of this week — is not an admission of any ethics violation, but, instead, further demonstrates that he always "wants to be open and transparent." She had no comment on Roldan's demand for the public disclosures by Segarra.
Barr reiterated that Segarra is asking the city's corporation counsel to solicit an opinion from one of the law firms retained by the ethics commission to "determine if any violation of the city's ethics code has occurred."
The city's ethics commission is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 5 p.m. at city hall, and members said Segarra's matter may come up for discussion during the meeting.
Segarra said Sunday that a "small group" of opponents "is trying to use whatever they can" to manufacture an issue. It was a clear reference to Roldan and other allies of former Mayor Eddie A. Perez, whose resignation last year after a corruption conviction led to Segarra's ascension from city council president to mayor.
City records showing the rent-subsidy payments to Ortiz were among a broad range of documents requested from the city months ago by Derek Donnelly, who, like Roldan, is a former Perez aide. The Courant requested them after learning of Donnelly's request.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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