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State Sen. Thomas Gaffey was not sworn in yesterday morning with other state officials who won election in November.
Rather, amidst controversy, Gaffey decided to resign his post representing the 13th District on Monday afternoon. Gaffey, who represents parts of Cheshire, could not be reached for comment, but released a lengthy statement on Jan. 3 detailing the reasons why he was resigning from the State Senate before being sworn in for a ninth term.
"It is with profound sadness and deep regret that I have decided, despite having recently been reelected to my ninth term as the State Senator from the 13th District, that I will exit from the political arena and will not take the oath of office on January 5, 2011," Gaffey said in the statement. "I will be submitting a letter to the Secretary of State notifying her of my decision in accordance with state statute."
Gaffey was reelected in November after defeating Republican challenger Len Suzio. A special election will be held in the coming months to fill Gaffey's seat, as well as others, who have resigned from the House and Senate.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission investigated Gaffey and his political action committee from January 2008 until May 2009. During that time, it was uncovered that Gaffey was double-billing his committee and the state legislature for his expenses to the tune of approximately $2,500. As a result of his actions, he was forced to pay a $6,000 fine and dissolve his political action committee, which was also forced to forfeit upwards of $10,000 to the state. However, the matter was not done, as the State Attorney's office opened its own investigation. Gaffey, 51, was arrested on larceny counts this week and entered into a plea deal that spares him any jail time. According to Gaffey's prepared statement, "a resolution of the case was not worked out until very recently" and the agreement, effective yesterday, saw Gaffey plead guilty to misdemeanor charges. He will perform 100 hours of community service, the statement said.
"Under the terms of the plea agreement, there is nothing to prevent me from continuing as the State Senator from the 13th District," Gaffey said. "My family, friends and community have already endured a process which has spanned three years. If I were to remain in office, they would inevitably have to endure an ongoing political controversy for years to come. I will not ask them to do so."
While he "loved serving as a Senator," Gaffey decided the best thing for he, his family, and the people he represented, was "a fresh start with a senator without the unnecessary baggage of controversy." He thanked the voters for supporting him, even while the State Elections Enforcement Commission investigation was in the media forefront and in front of voters’ eyes. He said he would always be grateful for that "understanding and support" from the public. However, he felt he needed to resign from the Senate in order to put an end to this "long ordeal."
"My decision is a deeply personal one. I have decided that the best course of action for everyone involved is for me to walk off the political battlefield," Gaffey said. "My family and I have suffered immensely throughout this long ordeal and need closure. This ordeal needs to end and I have decided to end it now."
Gaffey said he has nothing but respect for his colleagues and he wished them all the best the coming term.
"I have tremendous respect for the Senate and the General Assembly as a whole. My colleagues and the new administration need to address the very important work ahead devoid of any distraction. I wish my constituents and colleagues all the best that the future holds. It has been an honor to serve," Gaffey said.