Fairfield resident lodges whistleblower complaint against RTC chairman
FAIRFIELD — A local whistleblowing effort has been met with procedural roadblocks and political questions.
Fairfield resident Lisa Winjum has been attempting to raise a conflict of interest complaint about Police Commissioner Jamie Millington. But she’s found herself tossed between town bodies, with the Ethics Commission not currently having enough members to address the issue.
In her complaint, Winjum questions whether Millington’s role as a Police Commission member, while also serving as chair of the Fairfield Republican Town Committee, a position he’s held since 2012, creates a conflict of interest. She alleges Millington could be using his position on the commission, which he has served on since 2016, to access information to be used for political gain.
Winjum developed this concern after seeing an anonymous whistleblower complaint submitted to the town’s reporting hotline, which she obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
The complainant, although not specifying Millington by name, wrote, “I heard that at the Board of Selectmen meeting on 9/18/19 a Fairfield town Police Commissioner provided information about a resident from a closed investigation. I am wondering if this is legal or ethical.”
Winjum believes this is referencing Millington’s public comment at the Sept. 18 Board of Selectmen meeting, where he discussed a 2009-11 state investigation into former superintendent of public works Scott Bartlett’s conduct. Millington discussed the specific charges resulting from the investigation, and alleged that a warrant for Bartlett’s arrest was never signed. He asked what First Selectman Mike Tetreau, a Democrat seeking re-election on Nov. 5, knew of that investigation.
Bartlett and others were arrested this summer as part of an ongoing criminal case.
Bartlett is accused of conspiring with Joseph Michelangelo, who served as the town’s public works director since 2012, and Jason Julian to allow Julian Enterprises to dump truck loads of contaminated waste into the town’s fill pile.
The documents Millington discussed are not subject to Freedom of Information disclosure, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice, which denied the Fairfield Citizen’s FOI request for them in August.
Reached for comment, Millington said there is no merit to Winjum’s ethics complaint, and that he believes initiating this investigation is a political attempt from the other side.
Winjum has previously sought elected office in Fairfield as a Democrat.
“There is nothing in the charter that prohibits me from serving on any board or commission, and when I spoke at the Board of Selectmen meeting, I spoke as a resident,” he said. “I, just like any other resident, can speak at any public meeting that I wish to.”
Winjum sought an ethics investigation out of concern about how Millington accessed this alleged report, whether he used Police Commission connections to improperly obtain it and whether it was shared for political gain in his capacity as RTC chairman.
“I think [we need to ask] how Jamie got that information, and who within the party Jamie has shared it with,” Winjum said.
Millington said the report was sent to him anonymously, and was not related to his role on the Police Commission.
“This was sent to me personally, not in my official capacity as a Police Commissioner,” he said.
He said he sought legal advice on what to do with the report and has not released it publicly out of a desire to refrain from interfering in the state’s ongoing investigation.
Winjum reached out to Police Commission Chair Jack Stone requesting an investigation into Millington’s conduct. Stone referred Winjum’s complaint to the Ethics Commission, echoing Millington’s statement that there is no regulation in the Town Charter prohibiting a party chairperson from serving on a commission.
The Ethics Commission, meanwhile, was unable to address the complaint because it does not currently have enough members to hear cases.
The commission is required to have five members, no more than three of the same political party. Appointments are made by the Board of Selectmen and approved by the RTM.
As of now, the commission only has three members and no chairman.
“Unfortunately, we cannot deal with the issues you brought to me,” wrote Ethics Vice Chair Marguerite Toth to Winjum in an email obtained by the Fairfield Citizen.
Reached for comment, Toth said three members of the Ethics Commission ended their terms on July 1, and only one has been appointed since then.
Tetreau brought forward the appointment of Democrat Robert B. Bellitto, Jr., who was seated by the RTM at the end of June.
Tetreau said Republican Selectmen Chris Tymniak and Ed Bateson brought forth two Republican nominees, but both withdrew before going to the RTM for approval.
According to the Town Charter, no more than a bare majority of appointed commission members can be from the same political party.
They decided to punt the decision to the next Board of Selectmen, given that both they and RTM will soon turn over and there would not be time for new nominations to be approved by both bodies before Election Day, Tetreau said.