The latest development in the “Regent-gate” situation was the press conference yesterday afternoon in which the Democratic and Republican leaders of the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee demanded the resignation of Robert Kennedy, the President of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.
Meanwhile Kennedy continued to apologize and claim that he had mistakenly authorized pay raises for 21 members of the Board of Regent’s executive staff, despite the fact that the new law creating the Board of Regent system is absolutely clear that only the full Board has the authority to approve compensation issues.
Governor Malloy, who recruited Mr. Kennedy, also blasted him at various points yesterday, but did not demand that he be fired, nor did he call for his resignation.
The Board of Regents has a previously scheduled board meeting at 2:30 p.m. today where one would expect that issue to be added to the agenda.
While the bi-partisan call was only targeted at Mr. Kennedy, Republican leader John McKinney also demanded the resignation of Michael Meotti, the Executive Vice President for the Board of Regents.
A week ago, the CTMirror broke the news that Meotti had received a $49,000 pay raise this year, despite a prohibition on any pay raises as part of the Malloy-SEBAC state employee agreement.
This week the controversy spread dramatically when it was discovered that a total of 21 employees of the Board of Regents had received pay raises totally about $300,000 a year.
To date, State Representative Roberta Willis is the only Democratic leader to demand that the Board of Regents also, “look at Meotti and his role” in the decision to hand out the raises.
Considering that a number of senior administrators at the Board of Regents are experienced in Connecticut law, it is inconceivable that Mr. Kennedy could have made the decision without the input and advice of his leadership team.
Considering Meotti was a popular former Democratic State Senator and a close ally and friend of both Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman, it’s not surprising that most Democrats would be hesitant to publicly demand the investigation be expanded to include people beyond Mr. Kennedy.
As the Courant article noted, as late as Wednesday night, it appeared that Governor Malloy and the Chairman of the Board of Regents were positioning themselves to accept Kennedy’s apology, but stand by him.
However, the unexpected and particularly strong statements coming from the Higher Education Committee, and the growing recognition that the law related to pay raises for employees of the Board of Regents was very clear, the overall tone on Thursday changed and it has become increasingly clear that Kennedy’s level of support is quickly eroding.
One of the strangest developments, to date, was the attempt by Andrew McDonald; the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, to claim that the decision as to whether Kennedy should stay or go was really out of the Governor’s hands and that Governor Malloy could only recommend the Board of Regents investigate and take action if appropriate.
Apparently Attorney McDonald was not asked or reminded that Governor Malloy did not only recruit Mr. Kennedy, but he appointed 9 of the 15 members of the Board of Regents. In addition, there are five ex-officio members of the Board, all of whom serve as Malloy’s commissioners to various state agencies.
Those who enjoy betting on the odds might do well to put their money on an announcement later today that Mr. Kennedy has decided to resign, so that, “the powers that be,” can focus all of their attention on protecting the other senior employees at the Board of Regents, including Mr. Meotti.