As part of their orientation, freshman legislators are asked to submit a mileage calculation based on the driving distance from their residences to the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The OLM uses that submitted figure along with attendance records tabulated by legislative aides to calculate mileage reimbursements, which are repaid to legislators at the prevailing federal rate.
In the case of Rep. Ziobron, an accumulated accounting error was discovered as part of a routine OLM audit in 2017. The OLM audit revealed that from her first term in office until 2017, Rep. Ziobron was only being reimbursed for half of the miles she was driving when the legislature was in session. As part of the audit process, OLM automatically corrected the error by issuing a check for retroactive mileage reimbursement. Rep. Ziobron did not solicit the audit or the corrective payment.
Rep. Ziobron stated: “As a matter of principle, I have always been very cautious regarding the use of taxpayer funds, particularly when it comes to legislative perks. Since my first election, I made a point to opt out of things like the customary taxpayer funded mailers that are printed and sent out at a cost of almost two million dollars to the state annually.”
Rep. Ziobron went on to say that “This was accounting error that was caught by a routine OLM audit. Consistent with Mr. Needleman’s campaign strategy, he has sought to falsely portray me as either incompetent, or worse yet, someone taking undue compensation. This is not only untrue, but entirely at odds with my sense of personal and professional ethics. Calls for fiscal responsibility have been the centerpiece of my work in Hartford and my current campaign.”
Rep. Ziobron continued: “After losing this seat to a Republican in the last election, during this cycle, Mr. Needleman has relied on negative campaigning from the outset. Rather than engage in good faith or run on his own credentials, Mr. Needleman apparently thinks a path to election requires pollution of the airwaves, social media and constituent mailboxes. Not a day goes by in this campaign without a false attack or accusation, as this example clearly shows. In Mr. Needleman’s telling, at first I was an overcompensated legislator. When that was disproven, he pivoted to suggest that I do not focus enough attention on OLM’s bookkeeping. Meanwhile, my constituents are left to wonder he hopes to accomplish, since all he seems to be interested in is coming after me with incorrectly researched attacks.”
Rep. Ziobron concluded: “Mr. Needleman laments the political media ecosystem while at the same time hypocritically shoving hundreds of thousands of dollars into it with negative campaigning. I am at a loss to understand how that helps anyone, advances the cause of democracy or addresses the serious issues facing our state.”