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Malloy: Transportation official wrong to use false ID to post online support for bus project


HARTFORD, Connecticut — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday a Department of Transportation official was wrong to post comments on a website using a false identity to advocate for the $567 million Hartford-to-New Britain bus-only corridor.

Malloy told reporters in New Britain that transit administrator Michael Sanders should not have used a fake ID when commenting on stories about CTfastrak posted by The Hartford Courant.

"I don't think he should have done that. I think he should have put his name on it," the governor said. "For the life of me I don't understand why he didn't."

Malloy said he's not aware of false information posted by Sanders.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Sanders suggested in Department of Transportation emails he would use a "stage name" for online comments. In an interview, Sanders said he used a screen name other than his own a few times to post comments on the Courant's website because on occasion it "fires up people" if he identified himself as a transportation official.

The cost of the 9.4-mile project has drawn fire from critics who say the price tag is vastly excessive and the money could have been better used for highway improvements or upgrading Metro-North Railroad. Malloy, a Democrat, accused opponents of distorting the project and speculated that Sanders may have seen his online activity as a reasonable response to critics.

"I think Michael thought that printing the truth and perhaps not saying it's coming from the department made sense," he said. "I don't think it made sense."

A Department of Transportation spokesman said Sanders will not comment.

The governor fiercely defended the bus rapid transit project. Asked if the disclosure of the use of a false ID could strengthen the argument of those who fail to see the value of the project, Malloy said, "Only if they're stupid."

"We're exceeding the numbers," he said.

Ridership tops 9,500 on most weekdays, outpacing one model forecasting 8,000 riders, the DOT has said.

Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said the matter will be investigated and then closed. He praised Sanders' advocacy and providing factual information about the project, saying "those are good things."

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