We pride ourselves on legislative ethics and strict lobbying rules in Connecticut, but the fact of the matter is that when it comes to certain conflicts of interest, we just look the other way.
Even when the elephant in the room where our electeds cast votes is the size of one of the state teachers unions.
Proof in point: Senator Jan Hochadel, current American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union Vice President and prior President – who most recently pocketed a neat $182,323 from the union while juggling legislative duties. That's more than a triple-dip from the state salary cone – taxpayers only pay Hochadel $54,500 a year as a senator – and lucrative enough to make anyone's loyalties do somersaults.
Consider a few more numbers based on the union’s IRS 990 filings: between 2017 and 2022, Hochadel raked in at least $935,407 from the union where she continues to serve as VP. This doesn't just whisper "conflict of interest" — it shouts it!
Whenever education policy is on the table, can we really trust that Senator Hochadel is putting her union second, and the taxpayers first? Does it not seem outrageous that we should even have to ask that question?
Connecticut needs to stop letting the foxes sleep in the henhouse.
If Senator Hochadel’s dedication to the teachers union is as steadfast as her salary suggests, then she should embrace that role with gusto. But if she wishes to also be the peoples' champion in the Senate, it's time to sever those golden handcuffs to the union.
Senator Hochadel needs to pick a lane and drive in it – and her colleagues in the statehouse need to enact rules that prohibit such flagrant conflicts of interest in the future.