State Senate Republican legal counsel Michael Cronin was fired on Monday after a meeting with Connecticut Republican Minority Leader Len Fasano ’81, R-North Haven, in which he admitted to misappropriating funds from a PAC dedicated to supporting Republican candidates for office.
It is unclear how much money Cronin, who turned himself in to the Chief State’s attorney following his termination, took from the PAC’s bank account — to which he had sole access — but Fasano estimated the number added up to ten of thousands of dollars.
“I don’t know what went wrong, whatever the fiscal hardships he was having,” Fasano told reporters on Monday afternoon in a press conference. “It hurts. It hurts the whole caucus.”
Fasano first called Cronin on Friday afternoon after hearing staffer reports of bounced checks in the mail and calls from vendors who had not received payments from the office. At the time, Cronin was unable to provide documentation related to the unpaid bills. The two then met on Monday morning in Fasano’s office in New Haven, when Cronin confessed to having taken the money. Senate Republicans issued a statement regarding the termination later the same day.
Cronin, a 55-year-old resident of West Haven, attended the Western New England College of Law and has worked for Republicans in Connecticut for the past two decades. In addition, he serves as a board member for the state Judicial Branch Committee on Guardian Ad Litems.
“In this building, Mike has got a very good reputation,” Fasano said. “He always has been our main person on the floor.”
Cronin was the treasurer of the Senate Republican Leadership Committee, which raised $130,167 and spent $113,265 on behalf of Republican candidates as of Oct. 28.
According to Fasano, the stolen funds affected vendors rather than candidates.
“[Candidates] got the benefit of the resources because it was work performed,” Fasano said on Monday. “It’s the vendors who are out, who we are calling and explaining what happened. We’ll make good to them as well.”
Republican PACs played an important role during the campaign season, especially in the gubernatorial race. While Democratic Gov.-elect Ned Lamont SOM ’80 relied heavily on his personal wealth, his Republican opponent Bob Stefanowski made use of the Change PAC. Funded by the Republican Governors Association, the PAC spent an average of $430,000 on Stefanowski’s behalf during the final two weeks of the campaign.
Republicans lost five state Senate seats in the November election, bringing the former equilibrium in the upper chamber from an 18–18 tie down to a 23–13 majority in favor of the Democrats.
After his meeting with Fasano, Cronin hired high-profile attorney Ross Garber of the firm Shipman and Goodwin to represent him.
Garber, a legal analyst for CNN and well-known impeachment lawyer who teaches at Tulane Law School, represented the governor’s office during the 2004 impeachment trials of Republican John Rowland.
“Mike has taken full responsibility for these issues,” Garber said in a statement to the News. “He is cooperating with authorities and is committed to ensuring that all donor funds are accounted for and fully restored.”
At the time of his termination, Cronin’s annual salary was $175,000. He had received a promotion in August.
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