Attorney General Tong Praises Bipartisan House Vote to Expand Fraud-Fighting Authority
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today praised a nearly unanimous 138-7 vote in the state House of Representatives to approve expanded authority for the Office of the Attorney General to fight fraud and abuse across state government.
“This nearly unanimous vote is a bipartisan victory for all taxpayers. Every public dollar, worker, program, and agency should be equally protected from fraud, abuse and corruption. That’s not the case in Connecticut today, but with this strong support from the House, we are a big step closer to full fairness and accountability,” said Attorney General Tong. “I am especially grateful to Rep. Matt Blumenthal who championed this bill as House Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, and to Sen. Mae Flexer, Senate Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, who is leading this effort in the Senate.”
In 2009, Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed into law Connecticut’s False Claims Act, giving the Office of the Attorney General authority to investigate and civilly prosecute fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds. Since then, the Office of the Attorney General, in conjunction with federal and state law enforcement partners, has recovered over $181 million in misspent public dollars. But Connecticut’s law is exceptionally weak—it applies only to spending in State-administered health or human services programs. Connecticut’s law is far more limited than any one of our bordering states.
Legislation proposed by Attorney General Tong seeks to expand the scope of Connecticut’s False Claims Act by removing provisions that limit application of these statutes to State-administered health or human services programs. More than one hundred different agencies, offices, and quasi-public agencies spend tax dollars on behalf of the government of the State of Connecticut. The current Connecticut False Claims Act covers programs at just nine agencies. The legislation would allow the Office of the Attorney General to pursue fraud and abuse of tax dollars anywhere in State government, while also protecting and encouraging those who step forward to report fraud and abuse in any State spending.
States with similar False Claims Act authority have successfully pursued cases involving wage theft and wage violations, false claims regarding minority contracting requirements, defective and shoddy equipment, false safety certifications regarding dangerous construction conditions, unreliable environmental testing results, and more.