Connecticut ending partnership with hedge fund foundation

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's partnership with a charity backed by a wealthy hedge fund founder has been disbanded “due to a breach of trust," Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday, alluding to leaks that have resulted in negative media coverage.

The Democrat, a former businessman, said he was “very sad” that the arrangement with Dalio Philanthropies, the foundation founded by Barbara and Ray Dalio, was ending.

The decision came after conversations with Barbara Dalio, Lamont said. A recommendation to end the arrangement will be made in the near future to the Partnership for Connecticut's board, he said.

“Due to a breach of trust, we both decided that it's time to disband the partnership,” Lamont said during a news conference on the Capitol steps.

“It really is important to have trust there and make sure nobody is trying to undermine the core mission,” he said. “And this case, I think there’s a sense from the Dalios that there are some people that really wanted to undermine the mission of the board.

“A lot of that was reflected in leaks,” he continued, apparently referring to media reports about efforts to force out the partnership’s new executive director and other negative news coverage.

“Every time there’s maybe a touchy personnel matter, those are the types of things that, as you all know, that’s handled in executive session. You don’t just have a turnstile and run it right out to the press, put that right into a column and then have a lot of partisan commentary that goes along with it,” he said. “I think that was a bridge too far.”

Lamont last year announced an arrangement with Dalio Philanthropies under which the foundation would donate $100 million to public education initiatives. That gift would be matched by $100 million in taxpayer money.

The arrangement had raised some concerns over transparency and making the partnership exempt from the state’s open records laws.

Barbara Dalio said in a written statement that the foundation had tried to make this “unique model” work but that “it has become clear that it’s not working because of political fighting.”

“I am not a politician and I never signed up to become one. I only want to help people," she wrote. “Through this experience I’ve learned about our broken political system and I don’t see a path through it to help people.”

She put the blame on two top House Republicans, who've raised concerns about the foundation's dealings and how they're exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. She accused them of trying to “sabotage” the partnership.

“It can't go on like this, so I suppose they ‘won.’ That is tragic because the other board members wanted The Partnership to succeed,” Dalio said. “It saddens me because it denies the students the resources needed to give them basic education and to get them into jobs."

Lamont said the Dalios' contribution of thousands of laptops to needy students during the coronavirus pandemic will still move forward.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, a member of the partnership's board of directors, along with other top legislative leaders, said the education partnership and Lamont's advisory committee on easing coronavirus restrictions were “both established without any public scrutiny or oversight and operated without any transparency.

“In neither case was this about politics — it was about public trust," she said in a written statement. “We applauded the efforts of the Dalios and their commitment to helping underprivileged students. But the way the partnership was conceived was flawed from the outset and, as elected public officials, we felt an obligation to correct those flaws by shining a light on how it functioned.”


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