The Corner

College Kicks Out Conservative Think Tank

The Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a free-market think tank long located on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., is packing its bags, the New London Day reports.

Last week, the college notified the institute — in a “very formal letter” the think tank’s executive director, Fergus Cullen, tells NRO — it would not renew the institute’s lease at year’s end. Currently, the think tank occupies 800 square feet on the second floor of an on-campus house. It has been there for 13 years.

“To be removed now was a little surprising,” Cullen says. The institute has been in the news lately because of its tussles with Connecticut’s state-employee unions. It has irked the unions for publishing state employees’ salaries on its website, CTSunlight.org. And it vexed them further when it backed Gov. Dannel Malloy (D.)’s proposed state budget, which demanded concessions from the unions, through its political arm, Yankee Action.

Last month, in fact, the State Employees’ Bargaining Agent Coalition asked state attorney general George Jepsen (D.) to investigate the institute for supposedly hacking into state employees’ email accounts and using them to spread misinformation about the governor’s budget. Cullen says the allegation is false and demands that SEBAC produce evidence.

Susan Kinsman, communications director for the attorney general, tells NRO, “Our inquiry is still pending, and we’re trying to conclude it as quickly as possible. It could be this month, but I can’t say for sure.”

Yet Cullen says the office hasn’t even contacted him about an investigation. “We have had zero official contact from the state attorney general’s office — not even a letter stating that an inquiry has been opened,” he says. “And they say they’ve nearly wrapped it up.”

“There are multiple steps to an investigation,” Kinsman responds. “I cannot confirm or deny who’s been contacted. But our attorneys will be very thorough.”

Trinity maintains that it declined the lease renewal for lack of space. “The decision to move them out had nothing to do with anything else that’s going on,” Paul Mutone, vice president for finance and operations, told the Day. “This was a non-Trinity function in Trinity space, and Trinity needs more space.”

The college has yet to determine what exactly it will do with the space. But it is considering ten options, including administrative offices, the Day reports.

Although the timing of the move seems suspect, Trinity has been rearranging tenants as part of a campus expansion for some time now. Last year, it relocated several people who were living in college-owned housing to make room for more student dormitories.

Even Cullen admits Trinity is within its rights. “We are a free-market think tank,” he says. “We believe in property rights, and it’s their building.”

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