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Documents offer insights into Kostas Diamantis’ efforts to advocate for his daughter

Torsten Dettlaff/ Pexels

Correspondents between top state executive officials and Kosta Diamantis, the former deputy secretary of the state Office of Policy Management, show how far he was willing to leverage his position to secure a job for his daughter, Anastasia.

WSHU’s Ebong Udoma spoke with CT Mirror’s Dave Altimari to discuss his article, “Emails show more involvement of Kosta Diamantis in daughter’s job search,” as part of the collaborative podcast Long Story Short.

WSHU: These emails are the result of a Freedom of Information request by the Connecticut Mirror. Could you please remind us about who Kosta Diamantis is and why you sought this information?

DA: Yes. Kosta Diamantis was the deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. So, he was second in command at OPM. And he also was the director of the state's school construction grant program, which has handed out billions of dollars in contracts to do school construction all over the state. Last October, it became public that the FBI and the US Attorney had a grand jury investigation going on into how some of those school construction grant contracts were administered. And they had subpoenaed for all of Diamantis’s emails, specifically regarding about 25 to 30 search terms that they wanted the state to search for. So at that time, we put in an FOI to get copies of all of the documents that the state turned over to the grand jury. And late Friday, they released a portion of those documents, which was roughly about 7,000 emails.

WSHU: What did the emails reveal?

DA: One of the bigger takeaways was that Diamantis definitely spent a significant amount of time trying to get one of his daughters a state job. She ultimately did get a job with the chief state's Attorney's Office, which led to the event the state's attorney Richard Colangelo, ultimately retiring when it came out that he had given her a job while he was asking OPM to give him and some other states attornys a raise.

WSHU: So basically, the state's Attorney's Office was looking for a raise for people in that office. And they were lobbying the Office of Policy and Management to try and get that approved.

DA: Yes, and then during that he hired Kosta’s daughter as an executive assistant for a $105,000 salary.

WSHU: It's interesting, some of the email exchanges that are in your article, especially the one between Diamantis and Governor Lamont’s Chief of Staff Paul Mounds. What does that reveal?

DA: That was a job that had opened in the Office of Workforce Compensation. Kosta had heard about it. So he emailed Mounds who at the time was the chief of staff, the governor's chief of staff, and asked him if he thought that job might fit for his daughter. So here, he is basically lobbying the governor's right hand man about a job for his daughter. What's most interesting about it is what Mounds responds back. He says he's kind of agnostic about it. He does mention that that job would be reporting to OPM where Kosta works and that probably, I mean, what's not written in that email is that that's probably not a good idea, having your daughter report to you at OPM.

WSHU: Yes.

DA: And so she never got that job.

WSHU: It also reveals that Anastasia, who was the daughter that Diamantis was lobbying for here, wasn't the only daughter that he was advocating for. There was an email exchange between the House Majority Leader, state Representative Jason Rojas, who was also chief of staff to the Trinity College president, and Diamantis. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

DA: Yeah, so Rojas was inquiring with Kosta about putting some items involving some East Hartford projects, which is one of his towns, onto a bonding commission agenda. They were going back and forth about that. And then at one point, you know, after Kosta had done whatever he was supposed to do, Rojas said thanks for helping, thanks for helping me out. And, Kosta makes kind of a reference to well, my daughter could use a nice dorm room at Trinity or something to that effect.

Rojas works at Trinity. Rojas, I interviewed him, and he said he kind of took it as a joke. But, you know, it shows he was talking about one of his youngest daughters, who goes to Trinity. I guess housing is hard to get there. So, you know, it probably was a joke, quite frankly. But in the circumstances, if you look at it now, it doesn't quite seem so innocent, as it may have at the time. But Rojas did say he didn't take it that seriously. And he certainly didn't have the ability to help her get a better dorm room.

WSHU: Did you get any response from Diamantis to this?

I did. On the Trinity thing he did say he was joking. You know, he said, if you look at it on paper, it doesn't look so great. But it was a joke. And as far as the thing with Mounds, which I thought was the most interesting, he said his daughter had, there was another instance where his daughter had sent him another job. She had emailed him about another job that she had interviewed for, and as a matter of fact, was a finalist. And they decided not to hire anybody. And Kosta forwarded that to his state email and then forwarded it to Melissa McCaw, who was his boss. He says that basically it was just because he didn't have a printer at home and he wanted to make a printout of it. So he sent it to his state email, so he could print it at work.

WSHU: But that would go to his boss's email.

DA: Right. But then he also forwarded it to McCaw to show that the position for whatever reason had not been filled. I believe she was actually a finalist, Anastasia was actually a finalist for that job. So he was telling the head of OPM, he was making the head of OPM aware of that. So he went to McCaw and he went to Mounds, the two people with the most ability to hire someone, about his daughter's job searches. And that goes a little bit against what he told the investigators, the independent investigators that the state hired to look into the Colangelo hiring of Anastasia.

When he was interviewed there, Kosta said that he didn't try to help his daughter get jobs or didn't really know what she was applying for or something to that effect. So it raises questions about his testimony to the independent investigator that the state hired.

WSHU: And this is not all of the emails.

DA: All I know is from what Nora Dannehy, the Governor's attorney said, that there are more emails that they have not released that are still being reviewed. And that there'll be another bunch released.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.