Lawsuit: Former Lamont administration member fired for questioning COVID-19 fine

A former member of the Lamont administration says in a new lawsuit that he was fired for questioning the governor's pandemic response.

News 12 Staff

Mar 10, 2021, 11:15 PM

Updated 1,172 days ago

Share:

A former member of the Lamont administration says in a new lawsuit that he was fired for questioning the governor's pandemic response.
Connecticut's Department of Public Health is leading the state's COVID-19 response. Av Harris was their spokesman. In his lawsuit, he says the DPH forced him out.
"This is an abuse of power," he says.
In the lawsuit, Harris says DPH fired him for raising "serious concerns that his actions would set off a chain of events that could violate state laws and regulations."
It all centers around a Bridgeport sports bar, Mangoz, which was fined $10,000 for violating COVID-19 rules. Police were still investigating a homicide there just days earlier.
"And Av, by picking up the phone or reaching out to law enforcement there and trying to get their statements on the record, could put him in legal jeopardy," says Irene Bassock, his lawyer.
Harris claims that after reviewing Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order over increasing fines for COVID-19 violations, he believed the DPH did not have the legal authority to issue the fine.
He says he reached out to lawyers in Gov. Ned Lamont's office.
"I was admonished for reaching out to the governor's office. I was told, 'It's hard for us to trust you with sensitive information,'" he says.
According to Harris' lawsuit, "less than 48 hours" after that meeting, DPH "terminated his employment."
However, Harris' job might've already been on the way out - a week before, the governor's office outsourced most of his job to a private PR firm in a no-bid contract worth $250,000.
Lamont declined to comment Wednesday.
"No, I understand it's litigation, and I should probably stay out of litigation," he says.
A spokesman for the Department of Public Health also declined comment.
"This lawsuit will help us get to the bottom of that, and the truth will come out, one way or the other," Bassock said when asked if there was hard proof for the reason behind the termination.
Last week, Harris blasted Lamont's COVID-19 response in a radio interview. But he insists that this lawsuit isn't a political ax to grind.
The state will file a response in the next few weeks.


More from News 12