Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan today recused himself from the investigation into alleged lewd conduct by fellow Democrat State Sen. Ed Flanagan, citing his own desire to run for lieutenant governor.
As I've noted in "Fair Game" for the past several weeks, Donovan has been talked about as a candidate for the state's number-two post — raising questions of a conflict of interest. Today, Donovan confirmed he is exploring such a bid. Earlier this year, before the charges of lewd behavior surfaced, Flanagan announced his bid for lite guv.
"This circumstance creates a possibility of a conflict between Senator Flanagan and myself," said Donovan in a statement. "In order to insure the integrity of the process, it is therefore appropriate that an independent review of the allegations occur.”
The investigation into allegations that Flanagan was masturbating within view of other YMCA patrons will now be conducted by the Addison County State's Attorney.
Flanagan launched his campaign for lite guv after the end of the legislative session. But, that was before allegations surfaced that he had been caught masturbating in view of other men inside the private wellness center at the Greater Burlington YMCA.
Y officials will not disclose the result of their investigation, but the complainant — Burlington resident Tiki Archambeau — later filed a complaint with the Burlington Police Department. That complaint was turned over to the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigation.
Flanagan has denied the allegations, but also apologized if his behavior "offended anyone."
Questions about Flanagan's competence and judgment have circulated since the legislative session and was the focus of a Seven Days cover story in May.
Other possible Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor include former House member Tom Costello, and former Vermont CARES executive director Tim Palmer. House Majority Leader Floyd Nease is no longer interested in the job.
On the Republican side, a few possible candidates are mulling a bid for the number-two slot, and will likely make their presence known once Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie makes his own political future known. They are: State Sens. Randy Brock (Franklin); Kevin Mullin (Rutland); Phil Scott (Washington); and Vince Illuzzi (Essex/Orleans).