Governor's office loses 3 staffers in 'planned' changes - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Governor's office loses 3 staffers in 'planned' changes

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Three staff members for Gov. Dannel Malloy are expected to leave this fall. (WFSB file photo) Three staff members for Gov. Dannel Malloy are expected to leave this fall. (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Three top tier members of the governor's staff are leaving his administration.

Gov. Dannel Malloy's chief of staff, Brian Durand, said Deputy Chief of Staff Mark Bergman, Senior Director of Policy and Government Affairs Paul Mounds, and Communications Director Devon Puglia will each be leaving our office to pursue new professional opportunities.

Durand said the changes were "planned" and will take place early this fall just in time for the midway point of Malloy's second term.

“Mark, Paul, and Devon have all been outstanding key members of our team," Malloy said. "During a difficult economic period, they’ve helped my administration achieve major goals, including hundreds of millions of dollars in budget savings, improvements to our transportation and energy infrastructures, bringing crime to its lowest levels in decades, and so much more. They’ve worked long hours and served the people of Connecticut well. I wish each of them the best in their next endeavors.”

Bergman said his wife is expecting their first child "in a couple days." 

"I want to be with her," Bergman said in a statement on Wednesday. "I feel like I've accomplished a lot and here and want to move on."

Durand said there are no plans to replace Bergman.

Mounds will be succeed by his deputy chief, Chris Smith.

Puglia said he wants "start a family" and "move back to New York."

"I can't reiterate enough that these are personal decisions," Puglia said in a statement on Wednesday. "These are tough jobs."

Puglia will be replaced by Kelly Donnelly. Donnelly is currently chief of staff to state Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell.

"There are no hours. You are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," Dean Pagani, who is a former chief of staff for governor John Rowland, said. "If there's a fight in a prison you get called at 3 am., not unusual for staff to last two to three years."

Pagani spent eight years as Rowland's chief of staff and in his communications department. He said it's a tough job and many do leave, although it's unusual for three people to leave all at once.

Pagani said it signals a few things that Malloy may not be interested in running for a third term or that he may accept a high-level cabinet position if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Malloy has certainly been active in the national spotlight. He's the chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association and spoke at the Democratic National Convention last month.

There's an Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation into fundraising for Malloy and how campaign mailers were paid for. This investigation could hurt Malloy's chances of being offered a position in Washington, D.C.

About a month ago, the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission reached a settlement on the campaign issues by making the state Democratic party pay a fine of $375,000. 

Republican Minority Leader Senator Len Fasano says the departures are unusual but doesn't think they are necessarily connected to the federal investigation.

The governor didn't comment on Wednesday, but the state Democratic Party said “in regard to recent action by federal authorities, we have advised authorities of our intent to cooperate and will continue to do so in order to bring this to a close."

Political sources feel the departures may signal that Malloy is not planning to run for a third term. His approval rating is about 24 percent.

Malloy may also be interested in seeking a cabinet position in Washington if Hillary Clinton is elected, but a federal investigation could change that.

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