License plate funds have no place in general fund, Conn. AG says

Nick Rees Oct. 8, 2009, 4:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut's attorney general has begun seeking recovery of possibly millions of dollars in illegally diverted funds from the sale of state specialty license plates.

The speciality license plate funds, meant to benefit wildlife conservation, animal population control and eight other causes, were possibly diverted illegally into the General Fund.

"Usurping donor intent after the state solicits and receives such contributions is forbidden by constitutional law, fairness and common sense," state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

"The law requires charitable donations be expended for the causes the donor intended to support, making illegal any transfer to the General Fund."

In a letter to Gov. Jodi Rell, Blumenthal stated that the diversion was a violation of state laws that require donations be spent for their promised purposes. Purchasers of the speciality license plates pay a larger amount to benefit a specific cause.

"The Constitution forbids the governor and the legislature from any transfers contrary to donor intent," Blumenthal said.

"More than $500,000 - the number could be millions - has apparently already been illegally diverted in violation of the law and the state's promise that donations would support a specific cause.

Blumenthal's letter, which notes that at least $500,000 has apparently been illegally removed from the Wildlife Conservation Account and the Animal Population Control Account, asks for a full accounting of the funds. Blumenthal also states that any of the illegally transferred funds must be returned.

Questions are also raised by Blumenthal's letter about potentially illegally diverted funds from speciality license plates for Amistad, Cure Kids Cancer, Greenways, Keep Kids Safe, Celebrate Nursing, Olympic Spirit, Support Our Troops, and United We Stand.

"I am seeking a full and fair accounting of 10 specialty license funds and demand return of any illegally transferred funds," Blumenthal said. "The law requires the state - like any charitable solicitor - to keep its word to donors."

Blumenthal has recently informed Rell and the General Assembly of illegally diverted funds from the Save the Sound license plate, which saw the transferred funds promptly returned and the program restored.

More News