OP-ED | Holding My Nose To Vote For Q1
When Connecticut voters walk into their polling places on Nov. 4, they’ll experience an uncommon occurrence: they’ll be voting for more than just candidates for office. For reasons that will be explored later in this column, these sorts of ballot questions are unusual in our state. And this one will be notable for its tautological quality: voters will be voting about . . . voting.
Question 1, perhaps inaptly named since it will be the only one on the ballot, will ask voters to amend the state constitution to allow the General Assembly “to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?”
Currently, voters must have a darned good excuse to obtain an absentee ballot. They must be sick on election day, traveling out of range of their hometown, serving in the military or have religious obligations. The amendment would also allow the General Assembly to institute so-called early voting, whereby ballots can be filed days or even weeks before an election.
On the one hand, such a change seems unnecessary. If you’re in town, polls in Connecticut are open for 14 hours. With that kind of window, it’s hard to believe a voter couldn’t swing by the polling place before or after work. As for the excuses, if you tell a registrar of voters or a town clerk that you’ll be out of town on election day, do they ask to see your plane ticket or a certificate of enrollment from your college? I don’t think so. But removing restrictions on absentee balloting would at least take away the need to lie. Call me old fashioned, but I’m a firm believer that less lying is always a good thing.
The biggest reservation I have about voting yes on Question 1 is that the amendment would turn the reformation of election laws over to the very same politicians who will benefit from it. For an example, one need look no further than how lawmakers carve up legislative districts to benefit the incumbents in their own parties. Look, for example, at Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. The eastern half looks like a donut with a bite taken out of it. We can only imagine what craven lawmakers were thinking when they dreamed up that abomination.
And there is the possibility of mischief in the early voting process, as evidenced by a Republican state representative repeatedly trying to vote early for himself on a touch-screen machine in Schaumburg, Ill., only to have the votes actually register on the screen as Democratic. The Cook County Clerk’s office attributed the lawmaker’s experience to a “calibration error.”
But unfortunately, there’s probably no other way to enact voter reforms than through the legislature because Connecticut’s lack of access to ballot initiatives (more about that in a minute) makes citizen legislation even more problematic. And appointing a blue-ribbon commission to recommend changes to voting laws would be just another way for elected officials to duck responsibility for the finished product.
I’ve also reluctantly concluded that there is little at stake here in terms of principles. Arguments over increasing voter participation inevitably fall along party lines: While few of them will admit it, Democrats think the masses of the unregistered and unmotivated, if prodded to register and vote, would naturally gravitate toward the party of Franklin Roosevelt.
Republicans agree, which is precisely why they are often critical of such efforts. If the shoe were on the other foot, I’m convinced the parties’ positions on ballot access would be reversed. As for the mischief, you could use the possibility of foul play to oppose virtually any new program. That said, I will hold my nose and vote yes on Question 1.
A larger but related question is why we don’t see more ballot initiatives in Connecticut. State law does not provide for referendums and the like. Perhaps it should. Granted, we don’t want to run into a situation such as California’s, where there’s a referendum at every turn and voters continually approve expensive projects and then vote down the tax increases to pay for them.
In Massachusetts, where the newspaper I work for is located, the state has four voter initiatives on the ballot this fall. Some politicians like them because it takes the responsibility for the law away from legislatures, allowing politicians to wash their hands of the ill effects of the legislation and claim credit for letting the people decide. Other lawmakers dislike ballot initiatives for precisely the same reason: they alone want to make the laws the rest of us must live by.
Ballot initiatives can have a positive effect. Granted, we don’t want mob rule or the cognitive dissonance of California. And we won’t get that if the bar to entry is high enough.
So while we in Connecticut are voting on voting, let the General Assembly consider a 2016 ballot initiative allowing . . . ballot initiatives.
Tags: constitutional amendment, voter laws, election reform, absentee ballots, early voting, ballot initiative, terry cowgill, dh
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Malloy, Visconti Square Off on NBC in Debate Without Foley
NBC Connecticut’s Gerry Brooks reminded television viewers five times that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley declined to attend Thursday’s debate 12 days before the election.
An empty chair was left on the studio set until 15 minutes before the debate started just in case Foley changed his mind. He didn’t.
Brooks said Foley’s campaign never objected to the format of the debate, while Foley’s spokesman offered a statement saying they were unable to come to terms with NBC Connecticut.
After last week’s debate, Foley said “I think in the end it came down to mostly a communication problem. We couldn’t even get NBC 30 to respond to us. So, we have to make our plans, we have to understand what we’re doing.”
So while Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Joe Visconti were debating the issues for an hour, Foley was at a rival news station taping an interview, according to his campaign spokesman.
Foley’s campaign Tweeted a picture of Foley in WFSB’s studio “Great to be in studio w/@DennisHouseWFSB to film #facethestate. #ctgov”
During the NBC Connecticut debate, Malloy told viewers if they don’t agree with him, they should vote for third-party candidate Joe Visconti.
“I respect Joe. We may have disagreements, but at least he tells you what he’s going to do,” Malloy said in closing out the debate. “Tom Foley has been dancing around issues for many months now. If you believe that I was wrong about guns, then this is the guy, Joe Visconti, that you should be voting for. If you believe I’ve been wrong on some of the other issues that Joe has talked about then he’s the person you should be voting for.”
Asked after the debate Malloy said he wasn’t endorsing Visconti, “I fundamentally disagree with him on many issues. But he’s a decent guy and he tells you what he wants and what he wants to do and he shows up. Showing up is half the battle.”
Malloy said Foley’s absence wasn’t about a scheduling conflict.
“It’s rather unusual for people to before they’re in office to be breaking these kinds of promises,” Malloy said.
Following the debate, Visconti complimented the governor for showing up to a debate against a petitioning candidate.
“I think it’s historic where a governor would come for a petitioning candidate,” Visconti said. “Again, I’m Republican and we don’t get along on many issues, but it was great that he was here.”
Visconti said he wished that Malloy focused more on the issues and the questions rather than offering comparisons between his record and Foley’s positions on issues.
Visconti maintained that he can win this election despite the pressure from groups and members of the Republican Party who have tried to get him to drop out. They are afraid he will play the role of spoiler even though polling data shows he takes votes evenly from both major party candidates.
“I think the governor’s underestimating me that we can’t pull it off at the 11th hour,” Visconti, who is polling at 9 percent, said.
Visconti, a former West Hartford councilman, said he wanted the information about the coming budget deficits delivered to the public.
“I wanted the people to hear what’s coming. It is coming. The governor never answered the question, so we’ll pin him down. Maybe Tom Foley will have the political sense to grab this. He has the money,” Visconti said. “They’re fighting a war of personalities.”
Malloy said it was “disrespectful” for Foley to sit out the sixth debate.
“I think it’s a missed opportunity to have a real discussion in a different kind of context,” Malloy said. “We’re not standing behind things. We’re having a real conversation.”
Malloy rattled off all the things Foley has declined to speak about on the campaign trail.
“Tom’s got a lot of things he doesn’t want to talk about, I just wish he was here so I didn’t have to remind you of all the positions Tom’s taken,” Malloy said.
Visconti got frustrated with Malloy’s continued references to Foley.
“The governor’s here tonight speaking about Tom Foley a lot and I’d wish he would get back to some of the issues,” Visconti said. “And that’s spending.”
Visconti tried to redirect the conversation back to the $1.278 billion budget deficit projected for the next fiscal year.
“I believe that we’re going to have to have some tax increases even though that’s the last thing any one of us here on this stage want to do,” Visconti said. “We need to be real with people because some people can’t afford to live here anymore.”
Malloy pushed back and refused to say there would be a deficit. He said he doesn’t budget for inflation and under his administration spending has only gone up an average of 2.8 percent per year.
“Let me be very clear, there will not be a deficit, nor will there be a tax increase,” Malloy said. “I never took a pledge not to raise taxes last time because I knew what was wrong with Connecticut and that it was going to take shared sacrifice to solve.” He added that when he first took office, the state’s finances were in worse shape than they had anticipated during the 2010 campaign.
Visconti wanted to know where the governor was going to cut services because at the current rate of spending Connecticut will continue to face deficits.
“We’re going to have to unload some of the great things we have been doing for decades and we’re going to have to look at what’s essential: the disabled, veterans, education, infrastructure,” Visconti said.
In Newtown, Esty And Gun Reform Leader Talk Background Checks
A California lawmaker who chaired a congressional task force on gun violence after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting nearly two years ago was in Newtown on Thursday, meeting with high school students and supporting 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty’s re-election campaign.
Michael Thompson, a fellow Democrat from the Napa Valley, said that Esty has been crucial to the work of the task force and the issue of gun law reform since being sworn in to office two weeks after 26 children and educators were murdered at Sandy Hook.
“I didn’t know Elizabeth. I didn’t know who she was. But I knew I wanted her on the task force,” Thompson said. “It was important for a whole host of reasons to have the representative for that area there … She’s jumped in with both feet, she’s taken this very, very seriously. She’s committed to it. She’s worked tirelessly.”
Thompson’s and Esty’s focus on Thursday was universal background checks for all commercial gun sales. They’re co-sponsors of a bill that would close loopholes for online sales and gun shows that exist in the current 20-year-old federal background check law.
It became an issue in Esty’s re-election bid recently when her opponent, Litchfield real estate developer Mark Greenberg, surprised many by saying in their first debate that he agreed with Esty on the issue. The next day, the National Rifle Association dropped its rating of Greenberg’s candidacy from an “A” to an “F.”
Greenberg said that the Sandy Hook shootings led him to change his position on the issue. His “A” rating was based on an NRA questionnaire that he’d filled out during an unsuccessful 2012 congressional bid prior to the shooting.
But on Thursday, Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which is strongly opposed to universal background checks, said that it is sticking by its endorsement of Greenberg.
“Mark is a far better candidate than Elizabeth Esty,” he said. “I know that he supports the 2nd Amendment. I think a lot of people don’t understand the background check dilemma.”
Wilson said that Greenberg is a strong supporter of gun rights, and after talking to him, believes he was not fully aware of the details of the bill. “Once the individuals in Washington explain things to him better, he’ll probably oppose it,” he said.
Thompson said that Greenberg’s back and forth on the issue over the past few weeks stands in contrast to Esty’s position.
“There’s no wavering. There’s no question about her commitment. She’s 100 percent dialed in to gun violence prevention. It’s a distinction in this race. Her opponent is not … He’s flip-flopped on this issue,” Thompson said.
Thursday’s forum was hosted by the teen division of the Newtown Action Alliance, an organization formed in the days following the Sandy Hook shooting that has advocated for stronger gun control laws.
Addressing students wearing face paint for Spirit Week in a lecture hall at Newtown High School, Thompson explained that he is a “gun owner and a hunter.” He dismissed questions some posed about enacting a federal ban on the type of weapon, an AR-15, used in the Sandy Hook shooting.
“It will never happen,” he said. “. . . There’s no way we can do away with them.”
He called talk of “banning” weapons that are already common “tilting at windmills,” and said he supported the right of a “law-abiding citizen” to “have as many guns as they want.”
The focus, he said, should be on specific measures that can have a measurable impact on public safety, including universal background checks, a federal ban on “straw purchases” of guns, and making the interstate trafficking of illegal guns a felony.
“Ninety-three percent of the American people think there should be universal background checks. That’s more Americans than believe in capitalism, vacations, and Italian food,” Thompson said.
Thompson said that the universal background check bill has 189 co-sponsors in the House, and he is confident it would have the support of between the necessary 218 and 243 “yes” votes if House Speaker John Boehner would allow it to be brought to the floor.
Esty said the bill has wide, albeit somewhat quiet, support in Congress in part because it was carefully crafted to make sure that it applies only to commercial sales, not transactions between family members or neighbors.
It includes measures protecting gun owners who might be traveling on a hunting trip from one state to another where local laws can be very different, she said, and it explicitly prohibits any law enforcement agency or official from creating a “registry” of gun owners.
“There are a lot of myths about what this would do. The biggest one is that it would create a registry and there would be a massive, secret list to help them come take your guns,” she said. The bill actually makes the creation of such a registry a felony, but, she said, “That was not enough for people who want to believe that this is a sinister plot.”
Wilson sees universal background checks leading to further inconvenience and stigmatization of “law-abiding” gun owners.
“It’s just leading us down a false path,” he said. “We want to keep firearms ownership a mainstream ideal for people to aspire to and not behind some locked cabinet with the cigarettes and the alcohol on the shelf. We want people to know this is part of our country and our heritage.”
He said that Esty is part of a Connecticut delegation in Washington that “is pretty much marching to an anti-gun beat.”
“I would be happy if she were to lose her seat and Mark could take her place,” Wilson said. “On a national level, Connecticut is all perceived as this entirely anti-gun state … I think it would be nice to send some kind of message. We’re Connecticut and not everyone has turned anti-gun based on a tragedy from the actions of a deranged individual.”
Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, criticized Esty for holding the forum with Thompson less than two weeks before the election.
“It says something about Elizabeth Esty’s character that she continues to use people and issues for political advantage and it shows just how much a creature of Washington she has become in less than two years,” he said. “Using the town that was home to such an unthinkable tragedy for a campaign stop is insensitive at best and I think the voters will see right through the political machinations of the Esty campaign. The people of Newtown and Sandy Hook deserve better than being exploited by Elizabeth Esty.”
Laura Maloney, Esty’s campaign spokeswoman, said that some of the teens at Thursday’s forum had previously met Thompson on trips to the Capitol organized by Newtown Action Alliance.
“These students have been leading voices in the country on this issue, many of them coming down to Washington, D.C., to advocate for common-sense gun reforms. It was a great opportunity for Congressman Thompson and Congresswoman Esty to hear directly from these student activists,” she said.
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, Michael Thompson, Newtown, Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Scott Wilson, dh
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Dems Ask Judge To Dismiss GOP Lawsuit
A lawyer for state Democrats asked a Hartford Superior Court judge Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit from Republicans seeking to stop the party from using money designated for federal candidates to help re-elect Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Judge Antonio Robaina heard arguments on a motion to dismiss a request for an injunction on the party’s spending of federal dollars in support of Malloy. The Republicans’ concerns stem from state election laws, which permit companies that do business with the Malloy administration to donate to the federal account.
Democrats have used the fund to pay for at least three pro-Malloy mailers, despite having asked federal regulators whether the practice was permissible. Late Wednesday night, the Democratic Party withdrew its request from Federal Election Commission, which was expected to take up the subject Thursday.
In the courtroom, David S. Golub, an attorney for the Democratic Party, sought to have the lawsuit dismissed as well. He told the court that the Democrats were not only permitted to use the federal account to pay for the pro-Malloy mailers, but were required to under federal law.
Golub said a federal campaign law known as McCain-Feingold, classifies as federal election activity, any campaign literature that includes get-out-the-vote information, voter identification or voter registration information. That applies as long as there are federal candidates on the ballot. In this case, members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation are up for re-election.
The vast majority of the space on the Democrats’ two-sided mailers is devoted to either praising Malloy or criticizing Republican Tom Foley. However, they do include short lines like “Vote for Democrat Dan Malloy for Governor on Tuesday, November 4.” Another line specifies what time the polls are open.
“If you include in any mailer, information about what time the polls are open and there’s a federal candidate on the ballot, you are engaged in federal election activity,” Golub said. Paying for the mailers with the federal account is “what the law requires. We’d be in violation of federal law if we did anything different,” he said.
The judge called the argument “interesting.”
“Putting politics aside, and I’m not as fascinated by politics as I once was, by adding two sentences” to the mailer, a party “almost chooses to exempt or include themselves in certain regulations,” Robaina said.
“Any reasonable person would find that it’s an advertisement urging people to vote for Governor Malloy’s re-election,” the judge said. “It seems to me, if you could just eliminate those two sentences, the ad would be treated in an entirely different way.”
Echoing the good government group Common Cause, Republican attorney Proloy K. Das said the two lines should not “magically” turn the mailers into get-out-the-vote efforts and they should not be used to shield Democrats from state law.
Das also rejected arguments by the Golub and William Bloss, a lawyer for Malloy’s campaign, that Republicans lacked standing in court and had failed to exhaust their other administrative options. He said they had to seek a court remedy because regulators would not act before the election.
“The election is going to be done and every day [Democrats are] spending more money,” he said. “It can’t be that just because the defendants waited until Oct. 15 to brazenly violate the law, that we have no remedy.”
Das said he was surprised that the Democrats were simultaneously looking to have the issue dismissed in court and withdrawing their advisory request from regulators.
“It’s surprising to me to see the defense trying to avoid a decision on this,” he said. “If we all want to comply with the law, why would they avoid a decision?”
Sen. Len Fasano, R-East Haven, appeared in court with Das. He spoke about the history of Connecticut’s campaign laws and asked the judge not to dismiss the case. Fasano also questioned again why the State Elections Enforcement Commission declined to be a part of the Republican’s’ lawsuit, despite issuing advisory opinions which have been critical of the Democrats’ plans to fund the mailers.
“Just because they [the SEEC] won’t, does not mean you shouldn’t,” Fasano told Robaina. “This is about the rule of law, the beginning and end of protecting the laws on the books so people can’t circumvent them. The integrity of the state of Connecticut’s election system is at hand.”
Golub called Fasano’s comments “inappropriate” and “holier than thou” arguments.
“I wasn’t aware we were doing campaign speeches in court today,” he said. “What I thought we were doing in court today was actually referring to the law.”
Robaina said he was done taking notes. “I put my cap back on my pen.”
Tags: Malloy, mailers, democrats, campaign finance, republicans, proloy das, david golub
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Nearly $1M In Outreach for Second Enrollment
With the second round of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act approaching next month, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace is budgeting nearly $1 million for outreach efforts to help consumers navigate the process.
Access Health CT will spend $973,000 to prepare 450 individuals to help guide consumers throughout the enrollment process, according to figures provided this week by Kathleen Tallarita, the marketplace’s government and public affairs outreach manager.
The biggest chunk of that, $530,000, will go toward Access Health CT storefronts where people can get one-on-one enrollment help. Twenty people will be trained for that purpose. Another $353,000 will go toward training 30 individuals at community enrollment partners, including libraries and community organizations.
Another $90,000 will train and equip 400 people associated with federally qualified health centers and certified application counselors, according to Access Health CT. The price tags associated with each component are expected to cover staffing, training and collateral needs.
Additionally, Access Health CT is partnering with the Connecticut Health Foundation, a Hartford-based nonprofit that advocates for affordable access to healthcare, in an effort to bring more helpers into various communities, according to Tallarita.
The Connecticut Health Foundation awarded 18 organizations a total of $100,000 to support outreach efforts in Hartford, Bridgeport, Danbury, New Haven, Shelton, Stratford, Old Saybrook, Waterbury, and Willimantic. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving also gave $50,000 to six organizations, which are helping with outreach.
For many, the help can’t come soon enough. Many questions have arisen as Connecticut consumers acclimate to ACA mandates, which require all individuals nationwide to have health insurance coverage or face penalties.
There have been significant bumps in the road, and Access Health CT has been inundated with inquiries from consumers throughout the rollout process. The marketplace, which was formed in the wake of ACA’s passage, has faced criticism from some who say consumers are being left somewhat in the dark about how to navigate the complicated enrollment process.
Access Health was created specifically to meet the requirements of the controversial ACA, under which states had to establish their own health care marketplace or allow the federal government to operate an exchange on their residents’ behalf.
In August, health care advocates called on Access Health CT board members to invest more money and resources into in-person outreach efforts. The outreach is especially needed, advocates argued, before the second round of enrollment under ACA begins in mid-November.
In the meantime, other groups have begun working to educate consumers as well. The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut hosted “Empowering Consumers: Strengthening Our Voice to Transform Health Care” earlier this week at Quinnipiac University’s Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences in North Haven.
The purpose of the event, organizers said, was to not only educate consumers about how changes in the healthcare landscape affect them but also to spur them to advocacy. The forum included a panel as well as smaller breakout sessions that focused on how attendees can become advocates in their communities.
“Consumers are too often included as an afterthought in health reform,” said Lynne Ide, director of program and policy at the Meriden-based Universal Health Care Foundation, which advocates for universal access to quality health care.
“We believe that consumers should be at the table every step of the way,” she said. “This forum starts an important conversation about how we help equip and empower consumers to make sure their concerns and experiences are front and center as we transform health care.”
Tags: Access Health CT, Universal Health Care Foundation, Lynne Ide, Kathleen Tallarita, Cara Rosner
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Drowning In Campaign Cash
Connecticut’s hotly contested gubernatorial race is contributing to a national trend of heavy spending on gubernatorial campaigns.
Across the country U.S. Senate races have been the top story in this election cycle, but almost $90 million more has been spent on races for governor.
According to a Wesleyan Media Project report, $426 million has been spent on 36 gubernatorial races around the country this year as of Oct 9. Only $337 million has been spent on U.S. Senate races. Meanwhile, U.S. House races trail at only $154 million
All that money has paid for 1.8 million political ads since the beginning of last year, which means TV ad buying is set to exceed $1 billion in this election.
Much of that money is coming from outside groups and PACs. Connecticut is no exception, with $11.3 million in outside money spent on the governor’s race as of Wednesday.
So far, according to records, the Republican Governors Association has given its Grow Connecticut PAC $4.8 million and the Democratic Governors Association has contributed $2.45 million to its Connecticut Forward PAC, as of Wednesday. The Wesleyan report found that the RGA has purchased more ads than any other group in this election.
According to the Wesleyan Media Project there were 2,300 ads aired in Connecticut from Sept. 26 through Oct. 9.
The project found that 79.5 percent of the ads in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race were negative.
PAC money is playing a major role in congressional races as well, with nearly half of the $8.8 million spent so far coming from independent committees. Of that $8.8 million, more than $6.3 million — or 70 percent — has been spent by Democrats.
The Democrats running for Congress in Connecticut have stomped their Republican opponents in fundraising from both small and large donors and PACs. All five of the Democrats running for re-election in Connecticut have raised at least $1 million each, while the five Republican challengers together have only come up with $2.3 million. U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty has raised the most of any candidate with $2.5 million.
Large individual contributions were the biggest source of campaign cash for congressional candidates. Donations between $200 and $2,500 accounted for more than $5.2 million of the $11.8 million the candidates have raised.
The widest funding gap of any race in Connecticut is in the 3rd District, where Republican James Brown has spent less than $5,000 running against 12-term Democratic incumbent Rosa DeLauro, who has spent more than $1 million.
Brown is the only candidate who has not accepted PAC money. He has raised 37 percent of his campaign contributions from small donors, tying him with 1st District challenger Matthew Corey for highest percentage of small donations in a campaign.
Corey’s opponent, U.S. Rep. John Larson, has raised more than $1 million from PACs — more than any other candidate.
Several candidates have used large sums of their own money or lent money to their campaigns. Brown and Corey gave $2,000 and $4,000 to their campaigns respectively and Cavanagh’s loan of $51,000 makes up almost 60 percent of her campaign funds. Greenberg is by far the most personally invested. He’s put more than $1.2 million into his campaign, $60,000 in direct contributions and $1.15 million in loans. None of the Democratic candidates have made any personal contributions to their campaigns this year.
Almost every candidate has had to return some of their contributions. A total of $101,542 has been disqualified by the Federal Election Commission. Dan Debicella, who is running in the 4th Congressional District, has returned the most at $30,900, while Esty, Greenberg, and Himes have all had to return around $20,000.
While it may be hard to believe, the airwaves in Connecticut are not quite as saturated with political ads as they are in other places around the country. Florida saw more than 21,000 ads during two weeks earlier this month where Connecticut only saw 2,300
Connecticut is beating Florida in one area — negative political ads. Connecticut edged Florida out of the top spot by a few percentage points with 79.5 percent negative ads to their 77.1 percent.
Of those thousands of ads flooding TV screens every night, a majority of them — or 64 percent — show anger as the dominant emotion. Enthusiasm, fear, sadness, and pride, in descending order, are next. Humor comes in last, appearing in just 4 percent of ads.
Tags: Kristi Allen, Wesleyan Media Project, Congressional campaigns, gubernatorial campaigns, U.S. Senate, PACs, dh
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OP-ED | On Responsibility, Sports, and Parenting
As a Baltimore native and lifelong Orioles fan, I was disappointed with their recent elimination from the playoffs. Nevertheless, I was heartened by their successful season, especially since prognosticators gave them no chance of winning anything this year.
Growing up in Baltimore, I couldn’t help but become an Orioles fan. Aside from the fact that the O’s were perennial winners, they also played solid, fundamental baseball. It was accomplished through the “Oriole Way.”
“If anybody had a definition of an Oriole Way, it’s ‘practice until you get it right’,” explains legendary Orioles first baseman (and BBQ aficionado) Boog Powell. “You go and do it day in and day out, and there are no excuses. There’s only one way to do it, and you do it, and you do it right.”
Practice hard every day. Make no excuses. Do it the right way.
In other words, take personal responsibility for both your successes and your failures.
Unfortunately, the guiding principles of the Oriole Way are disappearing from other walks of life.
“When a college freshman received a C- on her first test, she literally had a meltdown in class,” according to a Huffington Post article, Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids? “Sobbing, she texted her mother who called back, demanding to talk to the professor immediately (he, of course, declined).”
This situation is becoming the norm, says clinical psychologist Dan Griffin, as parents now employ one of two strategies when dealing with a child’s academic performance — cheerleader or football coach.
“The cheerleader has learned to ‘praise the effort, not the outcome’ so mom and dad ignore the score and pass out prizes to all,” writes Griffin.
“The coach’s main job, on the other hand, is to build character. Built into that lesson is an assumption of challenge and possible, eventual failure. The aim is to develop a ‘character repertoire’ that includes will power and the ability to delay gratification and to accept hardship as part of life.”
I doubt Bill Belichick, New England Patriots head coach, is overly concerned with the “character repertoire” of his players, but he definitely understands the importance of challenging them and developing their will power.
Belichick, simply, tells his players to “do your job! Take care of your responsibility, and just do it right!”
In the same vein, recently retired New York Yankee icon Derek Jeter did not become an icon by avoiding responsibility.
“When you put a lot of hard work into one goal and you achieve it, that’s a really good feeling,” he says.
In other words, “Do your job and do it well,” paraphrases writer Jonathan Long. “You don’t have a 20-year MLB career with the New York Yankees if you don’t perform well and to the highest standards.”
Sounds like the Oriole Way: “Practice hard every day. Make no excuses. Do it the right way.”
This recipe for success is no secret to successful athletes and successful teams. So why have so many parents — and, consequently, kids — lost sight of this standard?
Because, as a society, we have allowed it to happen. Sadly, as a society, we will pay for it in the end.
“We need to let our kids fail at 12 — which is far better than at 42,” says Tim Elmore, founder and president of the non-profit Growing Leaders. “We need to tell them the truth — with grace — that the notion of ‘you can do anything you want’ is not necessarily true.”
At the very least, dreams won’t happen if one is unwilling to work hard and accept both the successes and failures that occur along the way.
Just ask the Baltimore Orioles of 2014. They were not the best team this season, despite all their hard work. But I doubt the mothers of the players are calling MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to ask for a “do-over.”
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.
Tags: Barth Keck, education, parenting, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Bill Belichick, Derek Jeter, New England Patriots, Tim Elmore, Dan Griffin, Jonathan Long, dh
Esty Ranked 104th Wealthiest Member of Congress; Greenberg Would Be In Top 20
Elizabeth Esty has joined Richard Blumenthal, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes as millionaire members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation, which ranks among the wealthiest 20 percent of U.S. senators and representatives.
For the first time, Roll Call has ranked all 538 members of the U.S. House and Senate according to their personal net worth.
Esty ranks 104th, with an estimated net worth of $2.55 million, up from $2.04 million last year.
If he wins on Nov. 4, Mark Greenberg — a Litchfield real estate developer making his third attempt to win the 5th District seat in Congress — could end up among the Top 20 wealthiest members of Congress. He has an estimated net worth between $20 million and $60 million. Members disclose a range of figures, and Roll Call’s rankings are based on the lower number.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is ranked 7th, dropping from 4th last year after reporting net worth of $62 million, down from $85 million.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro ranks 73rd at $4.29 million, down from $4.5 million, and Congressman Jim Himes ranks 87th, at $3.05 million, up from $2.34 million the previous year.
There is a massive drop-off when it comes to the wealth of the other three members of Connecticut’s delegation.
Congressman Joe Courtney has an estimated net worth of $170,000 and ranks 332nd.
Sen. Chris Murphy reports a negative net worth of $160,000 and ranks 458th, while Congressman John Larson reports a negative net worth of $210,000 and ranks 471st. Both report being in debt in their respective amounts.
At the very top and very bottom of Roll Call’s list are two California Republicans, Congressman Darrell Issa, who reports a net worth of $357 million, and David Valadao, who reports a negative net worth of $3.7 million.
Esty has some family money from a business her father ran as a corporate CEO. Her husband, former Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty, has worked in the past as an adviser to big utility companies and is a professor at Yale University.
Esty used about $600,000 of her own money running for Congress two years ago in the hotly contested Democratic primary against former House Speaker Chris Donovan and Dan Roberti, another millionaire.
Greenberg has spent nearly $4 million of his own money over the course of three attempts at winning the 5th District seat.
Roll Call said Blumenthal was the “biggest loser” in year-to-year reduction of net worth, but noted that the loss could have been based on a mistake he made in reporting relating to a trust owned by his wife, Cynthia, the daughter of New York real estate developer Peter Malkin. Blumenthal’s holdings include “a real estate company in Sao Paulo, Brazil, multiple properties in midtown Manhattan and entities that leased and operated the Empire State Building.”
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, Richard Blumenthal, Rosa Delauro, Chris Murphy, Joe Courtney, John Larson, Jim Himes, dh
Dems To Federal Regulators: Nevermind
(Updated 10:30 a.m.) After asking federal regulators to hurry up and make a decision about whether it can use federal funds to pay for a mailer on behalf of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the Democratic Party withdrew its request late Wednesday night.
The Democratic Party had already sent at least three mailers with federal funds before getting the opinion it requested.
On Wednesday evening, the Democratic Party withdrew its request to the Federal Election Commission for an opinion after first telling them they didn’t need an expedited opinion.
“The Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee is required to be in Court in Connecticut tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. to defend a lawsuit by the Connecticut Republican Party concerning this matter, it is not possible for key representatives of the CDSCC to be present and participate in both the FEC and Connecticut Court tomorrow, and the CDSCC therefore withdraws its pending request for an advisory opinion at this time,” Neil Reiff, the attorney representing the Democratic Party, told the FEC.
The Democratic Party did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening about the decision to slow down the opinion.
Sen. Republican leader John McKinney said he’s frustrated with the Democratic Party.
“I think their withdrawal an admission they’re wrong on the issue,” McKinney said. “They understand they’re violating state law as our own election enforcement commission said in their comments to the FEC, it’s further reason why they should stop using federal account to support governor Malloy’s reelection.”
Last week, the Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the Democratic Party and Malloy’s campaign in an effort to get them to stop sending the mailers, which also include information about rides to the polls on Nov. 4.
Both sides will be in court Thursday morning for more arguments in the case.
On Monday, a judge refused to make the State Elections Enforcement Commission a party to the case and denied a request for a temporary injunction.
Thursday’s arguments are expected to begin at 10 a.m.
Tags: Dan Malloy, Democratic Party, federal regulators, FEC, SEEC, John McKinney, Republican Party, dh
Malloy Touts His Housing Record, Foley Struggles On Policy
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy easily won over a crowd of housing advocates during a candidate forum Wednesday with an interest in the subject and a record of investments in the state’s affordable housing infrastructure.
Malloy and Republican Tom Foley separately addressed an audience at the Lyceum in Hartford during a forum sponsored by the Partnership for Strong Communities.
Malloy appeared in his element for the talk on homelessness and housing. He leaned comfortably against a stage in the Lyceum and gave a short talk before taking questions from the audience.
The state has completed 2,700 new housing units since 2011, it has another 3,100 units under construction, and has promised to fund another 7,100 units, he told the group..
“To put it perspective, with respect to state dollars, we have appropriated more money in three-and-a-half years than had been appropriated in the prior 24 years,” he said. It was one of several times the group of advocates applauded the governor’s remarks.
Many of the audience members who later asked questions of Malloy, first thanked him for his administration’s focus on housing and homelessness.
“I want to thank you for this incredible investment in affordable housing and ending homelessness. I think it’s really remarkable. I’ve done this work for 35 years and I’ve not seen anything like it,” Betsy Crum, executive director of the Connecticut Housing Coalition, said.
The group was cooler to Foley, who said he supported the group but largely avoided talking about specific housing policies in favor of criticizing Malloy’s approach to the economy.
“If we get the economy going, and you get people’s incomes up and you get real estate values moving again, a lot of the problems take care of themselves,” he said.
At times during the question and answer portion of the event, Foley acknowledged that the subject was outside his “area of expertise” but expressed a desire to work with the group on the issue.
“I’m a problem solver and this is a problem. It’s something we have to do something about. So, I’m all ears,” he said.
On a question about investments in supportive housing for people with mental illnesses, Foley confessed to being unfamiliar with the concept. Susan Kelley of the National Alliance on Mental Illness explained that she was referring to housing programs with treatment options built into them. Foley said he supported more community-based care options for people with mental health issues.
But Kelley did not forget his initial question. Later, as she posed a similar question to Malloy, she said “I want to say, I appreciate that I don’t have to explain to you what supportive housing is.” The rest of the crowd chuckled at Foley’s expense.
After the forum, Foley told reporters he is an ally to housing advocates even if he was not familiar with everything they brought up during the event.
“This is not something that I’m an expert on. Some of the questions they asked me, I don’t know the answer to. I certainly agree with their objectives and when you agree on objectives, the easy part is putting forth a plan and a road map to getting there,” he said.
However, some in the audience were not impressed with Foley’s planning. Noemi Soto, a New Britain resident who attended the event, said she was surprised he did not seem more prepared.
“If I’m in his position and I’m coming here to speak to this group and I have people who work under me, I think I’d do some research,” she said.
Malloy told reporters he has delved into the issue of housing and homelessness as governor and during his tenure as mayor of Stamford.
“If you want to run… one of the three most urban states in the nation, maybe you should understand housing policy just a little bit,” he said.
Tags: Malloy, foley, affordable housing
Esty, Greenberg Focus On 5th’s Many Older Voters In Debate On Social Security
Litchfield County has the oldest population in Connecticut, and more than 130,000 people in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District receive Social Security benefits. That represents more than half the number of ballots cast in the district in the last non-presidential year.
Democrat Elizabeth Esty won the seat narrowly two years ago by criticizing her opponent’s stance on Social Security, and is following the same playbook against Republican challenger Mark Greenberg as she seeks to win a second term this year.
They swapped accusations about about who has more respect for older residents in a telephone debate Wednesday morning hosted by the Connecticut chapter of the AARP.
Esty accused Greenberg of wanting to privatize Social Security. Greenberg denied it, and accused Esty of telling seniors in Cheshire 12 years ago that they could “move to another town” if they couldn’t afford to pay higher taxes.
They differed on raising the retirement age for Social Security, and on whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The forum came a day after Greenberg surprised many by announcing Tuesday that he was changing his position on Esty’s plan to increase the cap on income that is subject to Social Security taxes. He had unveiled a new TV ad the day before attacking her for that stance.
Greenberg said that he feels strongly that Congress must do something to stave off an impending “insolvency” of the Social Security system and is willing to “compromise.” He supports a plan that would gradually increase the retirement age from 67 to 70, affecting people who are currently under the age of 52.
“We have to be real. The Social Security system is going to fail if we don’t have a discussion and debate about it,” he said. “We should ask some young people to work a little bit longer to make sure the system is strong for them when they retire.”
Greenberg said at the Waterbury debate that former 5th District Congresswoman Nancy Johnson convinced him that raising the income cap on Social Security taxes should also be part of that discussion.
Esty called raising the retirement age “moving the goalposts” and said that it was inappropriate for blue collar workers doing demanding physical labor.
“People who work with physical labor, a jackhammer, can’t afford to work until they’re 70,” she said.
Esty said that Social Security could be protected if Congress would stop “raiding” the Social Security trust fund and raise the income cap.
“If we were to raise that cap, we could extend the life of the Social Security system for 75 years. It would only affect 6 percent of all American workers, the wealthiest,” she said. “Mr. Greenberg has criticized me on this, disagreed with me, until yesterday.”
After Esty said Greenberg would privatize Social Security, Greenberg called it “another falsehood” and cited a Hartford Courant analysis that determined an Esty attack ad on Social Security to be “false.”
“I’m for preserving Social Security long into the future,” he said.
Esty and Greenberg are both opposed to “means testing,” a move that would cut off Social Security benefits for seniors who are independently wealthy.
They disagreed on Obamacare. Greenberg described it as “terrible” and “horrible” and called for it to be “repealed and replaced” with “market reforms.”
Greenberg said that Obamacare is increasing the cost of health insurance for many, and threatens to degrade access and quality of care for seniors who are on Medicare.
“The first thing we do to preserve medicare is to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said. “Medicare is going to look more and more like Medicaid. Reimbursements to hospitals are going to be reduced . . . the choice you are going to have with doctors is going to be reduced.”
Esty said she voted for “a budget that protected the Medicare guarantee” and against measures that would make seniors pay more out of pocket.
She says Obamacare’s push for greater efficiency, the use of electronic medical records, more efficiency, using the breadth of Medicare to negotiate better rates and addressing “waste, fraud and abuse” will lower costs and preserve the program.
“It’s a big complicated law and it’s making a lot of changes,” she said of Obamacare. “It isn’t perfect, and that’s why I’ve been working to change it.”
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, AARP, Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Care Act, debate, dh
Newtown’s Congresswoman Talks Gun Violence As Election Approaches
A month after Elizabeth Esty was elected to Congress two years ago, and two weeks before she was sworn in to office, 20 first grade students and six educators were murdered inside an elementary school in the district she was to represent.
What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that day dramatically changed the agenda of lawmakers and the conversation about guns in Connecticut. The General Assembly adopted one of the toughest gun control laws in the country, banning the type of high-capacity rifle that was used in the shooting, expanding gun registration and background check requirements, and limiting the size of ammunition clips.
It was a different story in Washington, though, as Connecticut’s freshman congresswoman and the rest of the state’s delegation ran into a gun rights lobby with unprecedented control of the U.S. House and Senate.
Esty is seeking re-election to a second term representing Newtown and the 5th District, and with less than two weeks before an election facing off against Republican real estate developer Mark Greenberg, she is talking about how to get Washington to do something about gun violence.
On Thursday afternoon, Esty will by joined by California Congressman Mike Thompson in a meeting with students at Newtown High School. Thompson, a Democrat who is an avid hunter and longtime member of the National Rifle Association, chairs the U.S. House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, established in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Esty co-sponsored a bill with Thompson that has been one of the few, modest victories for stronger gun control in Congress over the past two years. It added $19.5 million in funding to improve the national system of background checks on gun purchases.
Background checks made news recently in Esty’s race against Greenberg. She is trying to paint the race as a clear choice between a Democrat who supports stronger gun control measures in the wake of Sandy Hook and a far-right Republican with a 100 percent rating from the NRA who would oppose even “common sense” reforms.
But Greenberg surprised Esty in their first debate by agreeing with her that Congress should push for “universal background checks” on gun purchases, closing exceptions that exist for gun shows and other loopholes.
The next day, the NRA dropped its rating of Greenberg’s candidacy from “A” to “F.”
Greenberg said the shooting at Sandy Hook changed his mind about background checks. But Esty accuses his campaign of sending mixed signals and has criticized Greenberg’s reluctance to get into the details of specific federal legislation he would support or oppose.
The Newtown Action Alliance, an organization that was founded in the weeks following the shooting and which has been instrumental in advocating for stronger gun control measures, has a youth division that is hosting Esty and Thompson on Thursday.
Po Murray, director of the organization, said it’s “a nonpolitical event,” but that Greenberg is not invited.
She praised Esty, though, for not only helping support the organization’s lobbying efforts in Washington, but for supporting the community of Newtown through the many various issues that had to be addressed after the shooting, including obtaining funding for mental health counseling.
“She is truly a champion for gun safety laws and she has been here supporting the family members and the community,” Murray said. “She’s a mother. She truly brings a compassionate voice for this issue. Not only as a politician and a representative, but as a mom . . . Most of us are just accidental activists. We’ve never done this before in our lives.”
Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, said that Greenberg intentionally ignored the NRA’s candidate questionnaire this year because he doesn’t believe the Sandy Hook shooting should be politicized. That’s what led to the confusion about the NRA’s rating of Greenberg. It was based on a questionnaire he filled out two years ago in a previous, unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in the 5th District.
“Given the sensitivity of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, and Democrats like Senator (Richard) Blumenthal shamelessly exploiting the tragedy in fundraising emails and press releases, we did not answer any gun related surveys this campaign cycle, on either side of the aisle,” Evans said following the NRA’s downgrade of Greenberg. “This concern came to fruition (at the first debate) when the Congresswoman tried to use the tragedy to score cheap political points. Mark’s position on the Second Amendment — and quite frankly on all the amendments — is very clear. It is absolutely shameful for politicians like Dannel Malloy, Dick Blumenthal, and Elizabeth Esty to use this tragedy in an attempt to win an election and is another example of why we need to elect people like Mark Greenberg who will work to solve pressing issues and not spend their time trying to divide people.”
Esty blames failure to enact gun reforms in Congress over the past two years on Republican House Speaker John Boehner. She believes measures such as universal background checks would pass the House if Boehner would simply allow a vote.
“It will eventually happen because it’s the right thing and the American people want it,” she said in an editorial board meeting with the New Haven Register earlier this month. “I’m going to keep pushing, and I think the Newtown families will keep pushing.”
She cited the bill providing more funding for background checks as part of a strategy of trying to chip away at passing smaller, achievable parts of a more comprehensive gun control agenda. Closing background check loopholes, and making “straw purchases” of guns and the transport of illegal guns across state lines felonies are other examples she cites as measures she will push for if re-elected.
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, Mike Thompson, Sandy Hook, Newtown Action Alliance, Po Murray, Sandy Hook, Newtown, dh
Latest Poll Shows Tight Governor’s Race
(Updated 12:21 p.m.) It’s been two weeks since Quinnipiac University polled the three-way governor’s race and there hasn’t been much movement in the tight 2010 rematch between Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley.
If the election were held today Malloy would receive 43 percent of the vote, Foley would receive 42 percent of the vote and third-party candidate Joe Visconti would receive 9 percent, according to the poll released Wednesday.
Fourteen days ago, Malloy and Foley were deadlocked with 43 percent of the vote. If Visconti dropped out of the race, it would still be a tie with Malloy and Foley each receiving 45 percent of the vote, according to the poll.
Unaffiliated voters, who make up the bulk of Connecticut’s electorate are divided with 38 percent going to Foley and 36 percent going to Malloy. About 16 percent of unaffiliated voters support Visconti.
“The movement in this race that we’ve seen is Foley’s lead among independents has dwindled now down to two points,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said Wednesday. “Previously he did have a double-digit lead among independents.”
Schwartz said the gender gap is interesting too because of the size.
Wednesday’s poll of 1,010 likely voters showed there’s still a gender gap where Malloy leads Foley 51 to 32 percent among women, while Foley leads Malloy 53 to 34 percent among men.
“Typically, you see a gender gap where men vote for the Republican candidate and women for the Democratic candidate, but it’s a really big gap,” Schwartz said. “You’ve got Malloy winning among women by 19 points and Foley winning among men by a similar 19 points. That is an unusually large gender gap. I haven’t seen that in other states.”
And as the election nears, the candidates are shoring up their base. Malloy tops Foley among Democrats, 81-11 percent, with 4 percent for Visconti. Foley beats Malloy 85-6 percent among Republicans, with 6 percent for Visconti, according to the poll.
Support for third-party candidates like Visconti traditionally goes down the closer the election gets, but Schwartz said that hasn’t happened yet for Visconti.
“He’s sort of defying history in that sense,” Schwartz said. “But there’s still two weeks to go and it would not surprise me to see his numbers go down.”
The poll also found that about 81 percent of voters have made up their mind about which candidate will get their vote on Nov. 4.
“The race for Connecticut governor looks very much like it will go down to the wire — again,” Schwartz said.
The subtle movement in the polls is not unexpected as Election Day draws near.
“Democrats and Republicans are coming home with both Malloy and Foley winning at least 80 percent of their bases, but the independent voters are really up for grabs, with independent Joe Visconti now taking 16 percent of the independent vote,” Schwartz said.
However, “Republican Tom Foley has to be concerned that this is the first likely voter poll in which Gov. Dannel Malloy has a numerical edge, even though it’s razor-thin,” he added.
As far as the likeability factor goes, Malloy’s favorability rating remained unchanged from the Oct. 8 poll, but Foley’s numbers have dropped into negative territory with 40 percent having a favorable opinion and 46 percent having an unfavorable opinion of the former ambassador. The percentage of survey respondents who view Foley unfavorably have gone from 33 percent on September 10, to 39 percent on October 8, and now 46 percent on October 22. Meanwhile, the percentage of survey respondents who view Malloy unfavorably have dropped slightly from 53 percent on September 10, to 51 percent on October 8, to 50 percent on October 22.
Eighty percent of voters don’t know enough about Visconti to offer an opinion.
Aside from slipping one point in the poll, which is within the 3.1 percent margin of error, “the other bad news for Tom Foley is that his favorability rating continues to tumble,” Schwartz said. “For the first time, more voters have a negative view of him than a positive view. The more voters get to know him, the less they like him.”
However, “the good news for Foley is that Malloy’s favorability is actually slightly worse,” Schwartz added.
During a Wednesday morning interview with John Dankosky of WNPR, Foley, who was up 6 points in the Sept. 10 Quinnipiac University poll, said again that he was never up 6 points. He said it’s always been a dead heat.
“I don’t agree with the polls in September. We were never 6 points up,” Foley said. “I’ve been saying ever since late August that this was a dead heat.”
He said with 43 percent of unaffiliated voters Connecticut is really a “purple state” which can swing either way.
Foley said the reason his favorability rating has dropped into negative territory can be tied to “negative advertising.”
“I’m actually shocked that the governor, first of all, has said so many things about me that simply aren’t true,” Foley told Dankosky.
The Wesleyan Media Project found that the television ads in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race are the most negative in the country.
The poll was conducted between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20. Schwartz said voters can expect another poll to be released before Election Day.
Obama Is Coming Back
The Connecticut Democratic Party confirmed Tuesday that President Barack Obama will come back to Connecticut two days before the Nov. 4 election to stump for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Obama cancelled a visit last week to Bridgeport Central High School to stay in Washington for a briefing on Ebola.
Asked Tuesday morning about the Obama visit, Malloy said they were waiting for a date to be finalized, but “the closer, the better.”
In 2010, Obama came to Bridgeport on a Saturday before the election and spoke at the 10,000-seat Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yards.
The Connecticut Democratic Party said Obama will return to Bridgeport, but the location has not yet been finalized.
Malloy is one of few governors who is welcoming Obama’s support this year.
“Obviously we want a motivated Democratic base,” Malloy said Tuesday. “I’ve invited the president to come in and he has accepted.”
In 2010, Bridgeport ended up being crucial to Malloy’s victory of Republican Tom Foley. That year the Secretary of the State ended up going to court to keep the polling places open longer because the Registrar of Voters failed to order enough ballots, which left long lines and chaos. The tight race between Foley and Malloy only ended after a recount, which showed Malloy won by 6,404 votes.
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Foley to Malloy: ‘When I’m Governor I Won’t be Insulting Taxpayers’
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley said over the last 10 years he’s paid $2 million in taxes to the state of Connecticut and is a Connecticut tax filer, but he continued to dodge questions Tuesday about whether he would release his state tax returns.
He said it was “discourteous” of Malloy to “be singling out a taxpayer whose paid an awful lot of money to support this state.”
“When I’m governor I won’t be insulting taxpayers, I’ll be thanking them,” Foley told reporters after a speaking engagement Tuesday morning at the Connecticut Convention Center. “It seems to be the governor is coming a little unglued here with two weeks to go before the verdict comes down on his job as governor.”
Foley insisted the media only requested his federal returns, but the request was for the same information released by Malloy, which included the first two pages of the Connecticut tax return.
“I think when you run for governor of the state of Connecticut, you have an obligation to release your taxes,” Malloy said. “... The idea that you could run for governor of the state of Connecticut and not release your state income tax return is ridiculous.”
Malloy pointed out that Foley has the power to end this whole narrative by releasing his state income tax returns.
Foley asked reporters why Malloy doesn’t want to talk about how “private sector wages on a real basis have declined 10 percent… Why doesn’t he want to talk about why he raised everybody’s taxes so much and slowed down the economy?”
Pressed by reporters about why he continues to refuse to release his state tax return, Foley said there’s “no impropriety or anything has been indicated. I’ve paid over $2 million in taxes in Connecticut in the last 10 years.”
Foley said he does pay taxes in other states where he has businesses and “to some extent I’m required to pay a very modest amount of taxes in those states, but virtually all of my state taxes are paid here.”
Tags: Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, income taxes
Malloy, Foley Both Promise To Hold Towns Harmless
Tom Foley, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, told hundreds of municipal leaders Tuesday at their annual convention that he would hold municipalities harmless when putting together the state budget.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a mayor for 14 years before becoming governor, made the same promise at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities annual convention. It’s a promise he made in 2010 and followed through with when he took office in January 2011.
In his prepared remarks, Malloy reminded local leaders Tuesday that they would have lost $270 million in education funds in 2011 if his administration hadn’t decided to hold towns harmless for the loss of federal stimulus funds.
“If I lose this election it’s because I kept my fidelity to you,” Malloy told local municipal leaders.
Malloy said he’s proud that Connecticut took a different path to dealing with its budget even though he isn’t quite sure the general public understands how the decision impacted them.
“The reality is we settled our budget difficulties in a different manner than every other state government that faced the kinds of problems that we did,” Malloy said.
Foley, who was supposed to address the crowd at 9:05 a.m., but didn’t arrive at the Connecticut Convention Center until around 9:30 a.m., was the first to tell the crowd that he will hold municipalities harmless.
“I’m not going to reduce funding to cities and towns,” Foley said. “You’ll have the same level of support you’ve had under Gov. Malloy.”
The statement received applause.
Foley said he wanted to work with local leaders to roll back unfunded state mandates, but couldn’t offer any specifics.
“I’d like to look at them and see which ones are supported by good public policy and the ones that are we’ll figure out how to fund them. The ones that aren’t supported by good public policy we’ll get rid of,” Foley said.
Malloy reminded the friendly crowd that he did not balance the state budget on the backs of local communities even when he was staring down a $3.67 billion budget deficit.
“The difference between us and other states is that we did not balance our budget on the back of local communities,” Malloy said.
The statement received a round of applause.
Foley also told municipal leaders that if he was governor things would be different.
“I am a person who listens,” Foley said. “I am a person who likes working with people to solve problems and I’ve gotten pretty good at it over 35 years in the business world.”
However, Malloy wondered after the event how Foley could make such a statement based on the track record of laying off workers at various companies his private equity group has owned. Foley has disputed the job creation numbers at the Bibb Co., a Georgia textile mill he owned before he sold it in 1996 to its creditors.
“There’s a resounding sense that Connecticut is not faring very well,” Foley said. “People, I think like they’ve lost something. I think they feel like they’ve lost future prospects they thought they had as recently as four or five years ago.”
Foley said Malloy is trying to hide from talking about the real issues by bringing up Foley’s tax returns and his past business dealings.
“You mean I’m trying to hide the fact that we saw 11,000 jobs created last month,” Malloy said. “Or that we’ve seen 70,000 jobs created over the last four years or that every month on a year-to-year basis we’ve seen job growth in the state of Connecticut?...I’m not trying to hide that.”
Malloy pointed out that Foley could end the narrative about his tax returns by releasing them.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said he doesn’t believe the public really cares about Foley’s state tax returns. He said the public wants to know they’ll be able to go back to work and have job security. “Those are the issues he should be talking about,” Boughton said.
Click here to watch Foley and Malloy’s remarks.
Tags: Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, CCM, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Connecticut Convention Center, municipal spending, ECS
Department Touting Business Climate in Ads Just Before Election
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Economic and Community Development Department has been running ads touting Connecticut’s economy during the final month of an election that has seen the state’s economy criticized by Malloy’s political opponent.
The department has spent a total of $908,721 for TV and digital ads this fall. It is spending $403,963 to re-air a set of TV ads which the DECD first aired in the spring. For the fall campaign, the department spent $355,640 on the New York media market and $48,323 in Connecticut, according to DECD spokesman Jim Watson.
They began running on Sept. 29 and will continue until Oct. 26, just a few days before voters cast ballots in the governor’s race.
Asked about the ads during a Monday press availability, Malloy said the state is competing with other states for every job.
“New York is advertising on TV stations in Connecticut right now, talking about the programs that they have. We have programs that are better than they have and of course we should be getting that message out. But, as opposed to my two predecessors, I don’t appear in any ads,” he said.
The commercials tout Connecticut’s business climate and feature executives talking about why they chose to grow in the state. The testimonials include representatives from companies that have received state assistance, like Dr. Edison Liu, CEO of Jackson Laboratory. However, the ads do not mention that the featured companies received state aid, grants or tax breaks.
“Join the growing businesses building their futures in Connecticut,” a narrator says in both 30-second TV spots.
Although most are airing outside of Connecticut, the ads work to undercut a campaign narrative of Malloy’s Republican opponent Tom Foley who has criticized the state’s economic and business climate under Malloy throughout this year’s gubernatorial campaign.
“Are you happy where Connecticut is today? I’m not. Our economy is not moving, government policies simply aren’t working,” Foley says in his latest TV ad. “... Let’s stop the anti-business policies driving jobs out of state.”
When the ads first began in the spring, Republicans accused Malloy of crossing a line between promoting the state and using taxpayer dollars to for his campaign.
5th District Notebook: Esty, Greenberg To Debate Guns, Social Security
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Republican Mark Greenberg will meet for their second debate Tuesday in Waterbury, and will be on the phone together Wednesday for a discussion with the AARP about issues affecting senior citizens.
Gun control, the issue that made headlines out of their first debate Oct. 9 in Danbury, will be a likely point of contention when the 5th District Congressional candidates meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Mattatuck Museum. The debate is sponsored by the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce and will be moderated by Jonathan Kellogg, executive editor of the Republican-American of Waterbury. It will be taped by the Connecticut Network for broadcast the following day.
Following their first debate, the National Rifle Association downgraded its rating of Greenberg’s candidacy from “A” to “F” based on comments he made joining Esty in expressing support for universal background checks on gun purchases.
While Greenberg has said he didn’t fill out an NRA questionnaire this year because he doesn’t want to “politicize” the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Esty’s campaign has questioned his sudden change in position on gun control and how far it really goes.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Esty and Greenberg will take questions from the AARP and its members via teleconference.
Both candidates have made Social Security an issue in the campaign. Esty has accused Greenberg of wanting to dismantle the program and take benefits away from seniors, a charge that his campaign and the Hartford Courant have called “false.”
In a new TV ad released Monday, Greenberg accused Esty of favoring “higher Social Security taxes.”
The debate centers around what each would do to address the possibility that Social Security will be “insolvent” a decade or two from now as Baby Boomers age.
Greenberg favors and Esty opposes a gradual lifting of the retirement age to 70, a proposal that would affect people who are currently under the age of 52.
Esty favors and Greenberg opposes lifting the cap on income that is subject to Social Security taxes.
EARLY VOTING: Mark Greenberg is against a referendum on the November ballot in Connecticut that would amend the state constitution to open the door for the kind of early voting that has become a practice in other states. Elizabeth Esty supports the change.
Currently, voters may receive an absentee ballot and fill it out prior to Election Day only if they swear that they are physically unable to go to the polls that day.
“Mark supports the (federal) Constitution, which clearly states a specific day for voting. Any change to that can be done through the amendment process,” said Bill Evans, his campaign manager.
Esty issued a statement expressing support for the referendum.
“Seniors, students, working families, and people who are disabled often find it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day,” she said. “By reducing our outdated, burdensome restrictions and allowing folks to vote by absentee ballot beforehand, we will increase voter participation in our state, which is always a good thing for our democracy.”
LGBT RATING: Elizabeth Esty is touting a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.” She was among a record 210 members of Congress, out of 541 total, who received a perfect score based on their “votes and co-sponsorships of pieces of legislation that are key indicators of support for LGBT equality.”
CONSERVATION VOTERS: The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Esty’s re-election bid. Esty received a 100 percent rating on the organization’s “scorecard” of votes and positions on issues it sees as crucial to protecting the environment. It cited her introduction of “a bill that would incentivize remediation of contaminated land and another that would designate over 60 miles of the Farmington River as a Wild and Scenic River.” It also praised her for believing that the country has a “moral obligation to address climate change.”
The Esty campaign used the endorsement to criticize her opponent’s support for offshore drilling.
“While Elizabeth Esty is committed to protecting our environment and moving us forward towards a clean energy future, Mark Greenberg’s ‘drill, drill, drill’ agenda would just bring us backwards,” said Laura Maloney, Esty’s campaign spokeswoman. “We should be working to combat climate change and protect our environment, not wreak havoc on our coastal and marine ecosystems with more disastrous oil spills.”
VETERANS: Elizabeth Esty has been talking a lot during her re-election campaign about issues affecting veterans. The CT Mirror suggests that it’s a calculated effort to take a traditional issue away from Republicans.
ESTY LEADS IN FUNDRAISING: Elizabeth Esty is the newest member of Congress from Connecticut and is widely perceived to be most at risk in her re-election bid. Perhaps accordingly, her $2.5 million campaign war chest is the largest among the state’s House delegation.
Malloy Blames The Media
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy blamed the media Monday for not convincing his Republican opponent Tom Foley to turn over his state tax returns.
Foley has allowed reporters to inspect the summary page of his federal tax returns for the past four years, but has declined to make the summary of his state tax returns available for inspection. Malloy has made available a summary of his federal returns and the first two pages of the summary of his state returns.
“To say to the people in the state of Connecticut I am running to be your governor, but I’m not going to release my state tax return is hubris. It’s unacceptable and he’s just trying to run out the clock,” Malloy said during a press conference following a tour of Penn Global in North Branford.
“What advantage does he get in denying the people of Connecticut knowledge about his financial circumstances,” Malloy added. “This is a guy who’s running for governor in large part saying I’m a businessman. I’m a successful businessman. I’ve made millions of dollars. He hasn’t made a cent in three years, hasn’t paid taxes, hasn’t paid an income tax to the federal government. I presume to the state government. But I don’t know. What other states is he paying taxes in?”
Malloy then chided the media for not getting the information out of Foley’s campaign.
“Listen, I’m not trying to do your job,” Malloy said. “If I refused to release my tax returns you’d be all over me.”
“And yet this guy says I’m not going to do it and everyone says okay,” he added. “We’re not going to push too hard.”
The Foley campaign refused to comment for a second consecutive day about whether their candidate would release his state tax returns.
Malloy also has not released his full tax returns, just the summaries, which don’t show deductions or calculations regarding charitable contributions.
Malloy explained that there’s little to show since most of the past few years he’s spent in public office where his salary is part of the public record.
Malloy ended the press conference with a deal: “You get Tom’s full return and I’ll release my full returns.”
Asked why he doesn’t release his first, Malloy said because he’s released his tax returns.
“I release what most people release,” Malloy said.
Tags: Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, tax returns, Penn Global, media
Judge Denies Temporary Restraining Order & Motion to Include Election Regulators In GOP Lawsuit
A superior court judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the state Democratic Party and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign Monday after a hearing on a lawsuit filed by state Republicans. He also denied a motion to make state election regulators a party to the case.
Lawyers for state Republicans, Democrats, Malloy’s campaign and the State Elections Enforcement Commission crowded into a small courtroom in Hartford Monday for a hearing on an injunction filed last week by the Republican Party.
The party filed the lawsuit in response to a decision by Democrats to fund a pro-Malloy mail piece with money from its federal account, where the law permits state contractors to donate.
In a filing to federal regulators, SEEC has called the Democrats’ proposal to use federal funds in support Malloy a cynical attempt to circumvent state law. Republicans have sought to make the agency a party to their lawsuit. However, the state regulators resisted that motion Monday, arguing that they should decide the issue rather than the superior court.
“SEEC can not be a party in this case,” Deputy Attorney General Perry Zinn-Rowthorn told Judge Antonio Robaina. “It is the fair adjudicator of this complaint. If it were to participate, it would forever be tainted from ever fairly adjudicating this case.”
Sen. Len Fasano, a North Haven Republican who appeared in court with GOP lawyer Proloy K. Das, called SEEC’s position “mindboggling.” Fasano pointed to the regulators’ position in prior filings and advisory opinions, which have been critical of the Democrats’ position.
“Now, to sit there and bow out of the main dance, I’m very surprised,” Fasano told the court.
“The dance needs to happen over at the SEEC,” Zinn-Rowthorn said.
Republicans argued that it will be too late by the time the regulators take up the case. They asked Robaina to issue a temporary order, barring Democrats from spending money from their federal account on statewide races.
“We want a restraining order in place,” Das said. “We are less than two weeks away from an election. By delaying it, we continue to be further aggrieved.”
Zinn-Rowthorn said the agency had significant concerns about the case, but also said that barring the Democrats from spending money during the election raised First Amendment issues. He said the regulators needed to decide the case through its own process.
“If that’s too slow for Mr. Das, that’s unfortunate,” he said.
David S. Golub, an attorney for the Democratic Party, accused the Republicans of making wild accusations.
“Judge, this is just crazy talk,” he said at one point Monday morning.
Golub argued that the Democrats were required to pay for the mailer with federal funds because it contained get-out-the-vote information. He said Republicans were attempting to overturn federal election law through “courthouse press rhetoric.”
Golub rejected Republicans’ assertion that state contractor donations were used to help pay for the pro-Malloy mailer. He said contributions from contractors are segregated from the rest of the federal account.
“I want everybody to hear this—the Malloy campaign and the Democratic Party did not use state contractor funds to send out the mailer,” he said.
At the end of the day, Robaina denied Republicans’ motion to make the SEEC a party to their complaint and declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the Democrats and Malloy’s campaign.
The case will continue on Thursday. Early in Monday’s hearing, Robaina asked whether lawyers from both sides could make their case in five minutes.
“Not unless they want to agree to an injunction,” Das said.
“Not unless they want to agree to dismiss,” William Bloss, an attorney for Malloy’s campaign, responded.
Tags: republican, State Election Enforcement Commission, SEEC, Perry Zinn-Rowthorn, Proloy Das, Democrats
Sept. Job Gains Are Good News For Malloy
(Updated 2:56 p.m.) The last statewide jobs report before the Nov. 4 election was good news for Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The report issued by the Connecticut Department of Labor showed that the state added 11,500 nonfarm jobs in September.
Malloy has been trailing his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, in public opinion polls on the issue of the economy, which 40 percent of voters said was the most important issue. So it’s no surprise that Monday’s news was welcomed by the incumbent governor.
“I feel gratified,” Malloy said Monday at Penn Global in North Branford. “It’s the highest single, monthly job number since 1993.”
He said Connecticut was in a “deeper hole” when the recession hit “and it’s taken awhile to get out.”
Foley’s campaign and the state Republican Party issued separate statements calling the jobs numbers good news, but not good enough.
“We are glad that Connecticut picked up jobs last month but it is still not enough. We have only recovered 70 percent of the jobs lost during the recession and we still have one of the worst job recovery rates in the nation. Our weak recovery is the result of Dan Malloy’s failed policies and things will not improve without a change of leadership and a new direction,” Foley spokesman Chris Cooper said.
With an average of 1,500 jobs gained every month for the past three years of Malloy’s administration, one economist finds it hard not to be suspicious of the latest job numbers, which could be revised next month after the election.
But Malloy believes there’s enough substance to the numbers that they will hold.
“We’re having the lowest, continuing to drop unemployment claims in recent history. It is consistent,” Malloy said. “Every year I’ve been governor the end of year review of these numbers has adjusted them upwards, not downwards.”
Withholding taxes paid by self-employed individuals and sales tax collections show the state is moving steadily forward, Malloy said.
But Don Klepper-Smith, an economist with DataCore Partners, remained skeptical.
He called the numbers “wildly surprising to the upside” given the aggregate body of economic data he’s seen this year.
“The words ‘statistical anomaly’ first come to mind, and possibly raise some interesting questions that I haven’t even pondered yet,” Klepper-Smith said.
He said the number he is keeping an eye on is the year-to-date total nonfarm employment, which has only risen 0.6 percent “well below our long-term average annual growth rate of 1.2 percent witnessed between 1960 and 2013.”
On Monday, the Connecticut Department of Labor adjusted its August job losses from 3,600 to 1,200. All of the job losses in August were tied to local government and not the private sector, which gained 400 jobs that month.
The Labor Department reported that unemployment dropped from 6.6 percent to 6.4 percent.
“September employment numbers are very encouraging with strong gains in estimated payroll employment,” Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said. “Some of this gain was expected, especially in local public education and leisure & hospitality, where seasonal shifts may have been missed in August.”
Condon added that “both Connecticut’s nonfarm employment and unemployment rate are back to late 2008 levels. However, monthly sample-based labor statistics can be volatile in either direction and should be looked at in context of longer trends over several months.”
According to the labor report, September’s nonfarm employment gain was the largest monthly gain since April 1994. It also represents the seventh month of nonfarm employment gains this year. The only month in which the state saw an overall job loss was August, and according to the Labor Department, those jobs came out of local government.
When looking only at private sector job growth, September’s employment figures are the largest private sector gain since January 1993. Over-the-year, Connecticut has now added 24,500 private sector jobs, according to the report.
Connecticut has now recovered 85,300 positions, or 71.6 percent of the 119,100 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs that were lost in the state during the March 2008 to February 2010 recession, according to the Labor Department.
The Hartford labor market gained the most jobs in September and the Waterbury labor market was the only one of the six job markets in the state to lose jobs. Waterbury lost 300 jobs and Hartford gained 2,700 in September.
Tags: labor department, Dan Malloy, jobs report, Andy Condon, nonfarm, private sector, dh
Greenberg Uses Old Cheshire Budget Hearing Video To Hit Esty On Taxes
Mark Greenberg unveiled a new TV commercial Monday morning that uses old video from a budget hearing in Cheshire to attack 5th District Congreswoman Elizabeth Esty for what he says is a “pattern” of supporting higher taxes.
Esty faces Greenberg this fall in her bid for re-election to a second term in Congress. But in his ad, Greenberg goes back to Esty’s days as a PTO mom in Cheshire 12 years ago, where she said at a public hearing that opponents of a proposed school budget “are always welcome to move to one of our neighboring towns.”
Esty would later run successfully for the Cheshire Town Council, and go on to serve a term in the Connecticut General Assembly.
The video used in Greenberg’s new ad surfaced when Esty ran for Congress two years ago, and was used by her opponents then, too. She defended the comments then, saying, “Yes, 10 years ago I was a mom fighting to protect funding for our public schools and ensure a quality education for our students.”
Greenberg’s ad goes on to attack Esty for wanting to “raise taxes on Social Security,” and for running a campaign of “lies” about Greenberg.
With only two weeks left before the Nov. 4 election, the spot represents Greenberg’s first purely negative TV attack ad against Esty. Esty used two of her first four TV ads to claim that Greenberg wanted to dismantle Social Security and take benefits away from seniors. Greenberg ran an ad in response to those attacks, defending his record and citing a Hartford Courant story calling the charges “false.”
If it all sounds familiar, it’s because Esty used the same attack on Republican nominee Andrew Roraback when she was first elected to Congress two years ago, claiming he would “put your retirement at risk” and “cut the Social Security benefits you’ve earned.”
Greenberg, like Roraback two years ago, supports gradually raising the Social Security retirement age, a move he says would avert “insolvency” in the program. His plan would not affect anyone currently receiving benefits or anyone currently over the age of 52.
Esty supports, instead, raising the cap on the amount of an individual’s income that is subject to Social Security taxes. Greenberg’s new ad attacks this as wanting to “increase Social Security taxes.”
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, 5th District, dh
Foley Will Sit Out This Week’s Debate
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley said his decision to pull out of this week’s debate with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and independent Joe Visconti was the result of a “communication problem” with host NBC 30.
“We’re not participating,” Foley said last week, adding that his campaign could not agree on terms with NBC 30.
“I think in the end it came down to mostly a communication problem. We couldn’t even get NBC 30 to respond to us. So, we have to make our plans, we have to understand what we’re doing.”
Foley told reporters that presidential candidates and debate hosts generally agree on terms before the event. He said that does not happen in Connecticut races.
“They try to reach an agreement on what the format’s going to be, who the questioners and the moderators are going to be, there’s an awful lot of things that have got to be agreed to,” Foley said. “We simply weren’t able to reach an agreement.”
In a statement Friday, NBC 30 said Foley has been invited to participate in the debate and discussions have been ongoing with all three candidates.
Foley said Connecticut voters have been well-served by the five gubernatorial debates that have been held this year and pointed out that he plans to participate in one more before Election Day.
“I think that’s enough for people to understand where I stand, where he stands, to understand the impact of his record on Connecticut,” he said.
But Foley’s decision to sit out the NBC 30 debate on Thursday, Oct. 23, means the Republican is willing to let his two opponents take the stage without him, less than two weeks before what is expected to be a close election.
And Malloy’s comments last week after the debate at the Garde Arts Center suggested he does not plan to take it easy on Foley simply because he won’t be on stage.
“It will be hard to talk about how [Foley] destroyed people’s’ lives and jobs, it’ll be hard to talk about how he moved jobs to Mexico and did those kind of things,” Malloy said. “If he’s not there it’s going to be harder to bring those things up.”
Tags: Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, Joe Visconti, NBC Connecticut, dh
Candidates Squabble Over Tax Returns
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley allowed reporters to inspect a two-page summary of his 2013 federal income tax returns Friday, but that wasn’t enough for Democratic Party Executive Director Jonathan Harris.
“We’re hosting this call now not because of what we know because we don’t know,” Harris said Sunday. “...what’s there? What’s on his state tax returns? And why won’t he release them publicly?”
Harris wondered if Foley filed income taxes in Connecticut, or maybe he files in another state like Delaware, Florida, or New York. His federal income tax return would have included all of his income from any state in which he files or owns a business, but a state return would show exactly how much of that income he claims in Connecticut.
Chris Cooper, a spokesman for Foley’s campaign, said Foley does file income taxes in Connecticut. However, he did not respond to questions about whether Foley would release a two-page summary of his Connecticut Resident Income Tax Return.
Malloy has released two of the four-page summary of his Connecticut Resident Income Tax Return. Foley has allowed reporters to inspect his two-page federal tax summary for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, but has not released a two-page summary of his Connecticut return.
“The information within them must be extraordinarily damaging to warrant refusal to release them,” Harris said. “....is it possible he pays more taxes to a neighboring state than he does to Connecticut?”
Last week, Foley criticized Malloy’s tax return.
“At least I included everything in my summary, all my income,” Foley said last week during a campaign stop. “He apparently failed to include income on that summary.”
Foley was referring to nearly $200,000 of rental income the Malloy’s received for two years on their former Stamford home. They declared just $1,795 of that as income on their federal tax return. The Malloy’s, who moved to Hartford to live in the governor’s mansion after the 2010 election, sold their Stamford home for $1.3 million in April.
The itemized deductions the Malloy’s used in order to reduce the rental income to $1,795 for tax purposes show up on a different tax form. Malloy only released four pages of documents, two federal and two state, for the past four tax years.
“These are deductions that almost every middle class homeowner takes advantage of while the deductions that Tom Foley takes that allows him to pay little to no income taxes are available only to millionaires like himself,” Mark Bergman, a spokesman for Malloy’s campaign, said.
Bergman said the Malloy’s claimed things such as mortgage interest to reduce their liability on the rental income. In doing so, they joined about 34.1 million taxpayers who claimed mortgage interest deductions in 2012.
Tags: Taxes, Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, rental income, state taxes
OP-ED | On the Occasion of the Opening of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine
On Oct. 7, several hundred friends and supporters gathered for the grand opening of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine on the University of Connecticut Health Center campus in Farmington. This will be the newest branch of The Jackson Laboratory — a nonprofit research institute that has been a pioneer in genetics research for 85 years.
We are now at the dawn of a new era in medicine. Innovative technologies and advances in our understanding of the human genome have opened up new possibilities for improving health and preventing and curing disease. Our goals are clear: we want to discover the root causes of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. We want to enable medical researchers to develop and perfect cures individualized to each patient. We are expanding educational programs for everyone from high school and college students to scientists and health care professionals. And we are proud to be doing all of this right here in Connecticut.
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine was created less than three years ago, with the aim of building on our expertise in genetics to advance human health. Since then, we have completed the construction of a state-of-the-art, 183,500-square-foot laboratory building in near-record time. With a total construction contract value of $111.8 million, 97 percent of construction subcontracts went to Connecticut businesses, 26 percent were awarded to small business enterprises, and 18 percent to minority business enterprises. The project has employed hundreds of Connecticut workers for a total of more than 600,000 construction person-hours. In addition, we have hired Connecticut architects, engineers, surveyors, movers, artists, testing labs, furniture installers, and more, resulting in more than $123 million going to Connecticut businesses and workers.
We are recruiting a world-class staff from around the state and around the world. In just two years we have hired 150 of the 300 people that we pledged to employ within 10 years. Over a third of those — 55 — were already Connecticut residents, and the rest are buying homes and settling into communities across the region. We are creating good jobs for Connecticut and retaining talent in the state, while at the same time recruiting some of the best scientific minds in the world to our team. Nearly half of our current employees, 70 in all, are senior scientific staff holding PhDs and MDs. These scientists are already hard at work unraveling the genomic factors that determine health and disease.
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine will accelerate discovery and drive innovation to improve human health, but we won’t be doing this alone. We will be working shoulder to shoulder with academic, research, and healthcare partners across Connecticut who share our vision for a healthier future. Later this month, we will host, along with the University of Connecticut and Yale, the first Forum on Healthcare Innovation in Hartford. There, some 150 top decision makers will convene to discuss how to enhance the climate for biomedical innovation in our state. These conversations will open the path to better health for Connecticut’s citizens, and will spur the growth of its biomedical economy. To be competitive in the new knowledge economy, innovation and interconnectivity are key. The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine is helping to increase that critical mass of knowledge workers, and enhancing the intellectual interactivity within the state.
Our eyes are firmly fixed on the future. Every day will be better than the last, and we will achieve our goals one discovery at a time.
Dr. Edison T. Liu is the president and CEO of Jackson Laboratory.
Tags: edison liu, Jackson Labs, Farmington, dh
OP-ED | Joe Must Go
It’s time for you to go, Joe. You’ve probably worked harder than anyone else in the race for governor, but in your heart you know you can’t win.
You’ve campaigned on valiantly as the “other guy” and while there’s merit to that, at some point you’re only going to hurt the chances for the state of Connecticut to elect someone that is not Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
You told me face to face several times that your objective was to get Malloy out of office. You now have the best opportunity of anyone in the state to do that. While you have gathered support from some independents, some Republicans and a few Democrats, we all know that as the election gets closer people will cast their vote for someone that they think can win. That candidate is not you, Joe.
You have few funds and little name recognition outside of a small circle of influence and what worries me most is that Malloy is now saying good things about you. Our governor is playing you like a fine fiddle Joe. Gov. Malloy knows that his only threat in this election is Tom Foley, not Joe Visconti. Nearly every vote cast for you will be a vote taken away from Tom Foley. The closer the election, the more dangerous your participation becomes.
Why do you think that the attack ads only go after Mr. Foley and not you? Because their side wants you to get votes Joe, as many as it takes to swing the numbers their way. The governor and his team are not stupid, they’re playing you for a fool, and I know you’re not a fool.
Joe, you have the chance to be “Rudy” for Connecticut. You have the chance to be carried off the field held high on the shoulders of the winning team. You also have the chance to be the spoiler, to be the one that hands the election to the incumbent. I’m asking you to be Rudy Joe, be Rudy for us, be Rudy for everyone in Connecticut. By doing that, you can come back some day and run for office again, next time as a hero, not a spoiler. Withdraw from the election Joe, get out of the race and ask your supporters to vote for Tom Foley. Campaign with Tom and campaign for Tom. He’s the best chance we have of taking back our state.
Bob Margolis lives in Avon.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.
Tags: Joe Visconti, Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, Bob Margolis, ballot, dh
Foley Pays No Income Taxes In 2013
For the past three years, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley has paid no income taxes, according to records Foley allowed reporters to inspect Friday.
Foley, who filed was given an extension on his 2013 taxes, allowed them to be viewed Friday at a law office in Hartford. He had previously allowed inspection of his taxes for 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Like 2011 and 2012, the 62-year-old private equity entrepreneur lost income in 2013, but his campaign was unable to say exactly where the losses originated.
The two pages of the 1040 form Foley’s campaign allowed reporters to view showed that he lost $67,679 on “rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, etc.” He also lost $49,712 in “other income.”
He received $54,857 in ordinary dividends and $30,245 in capital gains. He also paid $80,487 in alimony to his ex-wife.
In total, he had a -$111,151 adjusted gross income in 2013. That’s a bigger loss than the -$65,000 in income he had back in 2011 when he took a $2.8 million loss on an S Corporation. Foley has declined questions for more information about the loss.
In the previous three years, Foley claimed income from Stevens Aviation, a company he’s owned for 25 years. However, there was no income on the 2013 form related to the company. His campaign spokesman said he still owns it.
Foley’s opponent, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s campaign, tried to use the tax return to paint Foley as someone who is out-of-touch with the middle class.
“Tom Foley owns a multi-million dollar mansion, two fighter jets, and a five-million dollar yacht, yet takes advantage of tax loopholes middle class families can only dream about allowing him to pay no income taxes for three years,” Mark Bergman, Malloy’s campaign spokesman said. “Tom Foley lives in a different world than Connecticut working and middle class families.”
Tags: Tom Foley, income taxes, 2013, losses, alimony, Stevens Aviation, dh
GOP Seeks Injunction Against Malloy Mailer
Republicans filed an injunction Friday asking a judge to prohibit the Connecticut Democratic Party from spending money from its federal candidate account to support statewide candidates like Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The lawsuit stems from a decision by Democrats to fund a pro-Malloy mailing with money from its federal account, where the law permits state contractors to donate.
The party initially asked federal regulators for guidance permitting the action, which prompted opposition from state regulators, Republicans, and two good government groups. This week, Democrats opted to move ahead with the mailings before federal regulators issued an opinion.
“They want to use prohibited state contractor money to get Dan Malloy elected, so we have no other choice but to resort to this lawsuit here today,” Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said Friday outside a civil courthouse in Hartford.
Democrats had defended their request for guidance from the Federal Elections Commission as an effort to clarify conflicts between state and federal law. During a debate Thursday night, Malloy suggested that, in this case, federal law trumps state law.
“When there is a reality that federal law, in certain circumstances, supersedes state law, you have to comply with that law first,” he said. “. . . Right now, we’re in a pretty tight race and we have a third-party candidate who appears to be coming on. And we need to spend money.”
At Friday’s press conference, state Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, called the argument “ridiculous.”
“He’s trying to make it seem as if the federal law requires that this money has to be transferred from the federal account to the state account,” he said. “That’s absurd . . . The governor of the state of Connecticut seems to believe that the laws of the state do not apply to him.”
Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he was one of the few legislative Republicans to support the public campaign finance program that Malloy and his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, are participating in this year. The point of the program, he said, was to keep the influence of state contractor money out of statewide elections.
“What the Democrats have done today is say ‘Thank you for the $27 million. Oh, by the way, we’re still going to get the contractor money,’” he said.
In addition to an injunction, Republicans are asking the court to force the governor’s campaign to return the $6.5 million public financing grant. Fasano said Malloy breached the contract of the Citizens Election Program.
“The remedy for breach of an agreement is the return of funds in this type of scenario,” Fasano said.
Through a spokesman, the Democrats have argued that contributions from state contractors are segregated within the party’s federal campaign account and were not spent on the pro-Malloy mailers.
“All the money goes into one pot. They are playing this, quite frankly, almost embarrassing argument that if they’ve raised a million dollars from contractor money and a million dollars from non-contractor money that this mailer from their federal account comes from the million dollars that’s non-contractor money,” he said.
During the debate Thursday, Malloy said his party was complying with the law.
“We will comply with state law and federal law in accordance with our obligations but we’ll also spend time making sure people understand my record as opposed to Tom’s version of my record,” he said.
The Federal Election Commission’s next meeting is on Oct. 23. It’s unclear if they will take up the Democratic Party’s request for an advisory opinion on the mailer.
Tags: mailers, campaign finance law, Malloy, jerry labriola, federal account, dh
Greenberg Says CDC Director Should Resign Over Ebola Response
Republican 5th District congressional candidate Mark Greenberg called Friday for the resignation of Thomas Frieden, director of the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over his handling of the country’s response to the Ebola virus.
Greenberg has called for a U.S. travel ban on West African countries affected by Ebola, a move that President Barack Obama has resisted and which also is opposed by his November opponent, first-term Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.
Esty and other Democrats running for federal office this year have criticized Republicans for cutting funding they say would have left the country in a better position to contain an outbreak.
In criticizing Frieden, Greenberg cited testimony in which the CDC director told Congress that the agency was on top of the problem and would “stop Ebola in its tracks.” But then, after a Dallas health care worker who had treated the nation’s first Ebola victim called the CDC to report having a low-grade fever — but was still allowed by the CDC to board a commercial flight from Dallas to Cleveland — Friedan acknowledged that the CDC was at first unclear on how the disease was transmitted and what precautions should be taken.
“Friedan’s testimony underscores the Obama administration’s failure to control this crisis, and it is increasingly clear the CDC needs new leadership. Therefore, I am calling on Director Frieden to resign and asking my opponent to do the same,” Greenberg said. “I remain concerned for my family, my community, and the people of Connecticut.”
Ebola fears hit Connecticut on Thursday when Yale-New Haven Hospital announced that it was treating a Yale University student who recently returned from Liberia for “Ebola-like symptoms.” The student has since tested negative for Ebola, but will remain in quarantine as a precaution.
The previous day, President Obama canceled an appearance in support of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign in Bridgeport so that he could spend time addressing the crisis with his cabinet in Washington. Malloy was one of the first governors in the U.S. to declare a state of emergency, allowing state government to quarantine patients suspected of having the virus. Connecticut Republicans have called for a hearing on whether the state is doing enough to be prepared.
Greenberg urged Esty to join him “in calling for new leadership at the CDC.”
“The agency is in desperate need of a new direction, and only Director Frieden’s resignation will set the CDC on the right course to manage this public health concern,” he said. “For Congresswoman Esty to ignore this crisis and hope that it will not get worse until after the November election is putting all of our families at tremendous risk.”
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenbeg, Elizabeth Esty, ebola virus, dh
OP-ED | Bipartisan Lack of Integrity Destroys Confidence in Political System
Last Friday, I attended the funeral of a much-loved relative, a brilliant man who had a long, successful career as an international tax partner at a Big Four accounting firm. One thing that struck me while listening to a succession of moving eulogies, particularly as a political writer living in “Corrupticut,” was the number of times people used the word “integrity” in describing him.
Sadly, integrity is a trait that’s increasingly rare in politics. In fact, in the last 24 months, I’ve begun to despair that we will ever shed our state’s reputation for an ingrained culture of political malfeasance.
Integrity isn’t a partisan issue — or at least it shouldn’t be. I’m sick of hearing political figures decry corruption in the other party, while remaining silent about unethical folks in their own.
Even after former Gov. John Rowland resigned in disgrace in 2004 and later served prison time for accepting $107,000 worth of gifts and vacations from state contractors, he was enabled by his political colleagues. Upon his release from prison he was offered a $95,000-a-year job by then-Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura, whom he had helped get elected in 2001. Rowland’s more recent employer, WTIC, further enabled his dubious politicking — his conviction on all counts at his second campaign finance trial a few weeks ago makes one question the station’s journalistic ethics as well.
But lest you think I’m only picking on Republicans, the Democrats are enablers of questionable ethics, too. After Rowland’s 2004 resignation, Democrats in the legislature passed stricter pay-to-play laws in 2005.
Yet now that there’s a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, it’s a different story. Connecticut Democrats are working hard to weaken the very reforms they legislated, to the point that the party sent out a mailer paid for from its federal account, without waiting for a ruling from the Federal Election Commission, despite having sought the FEC’s opinion beforehand.
As State Election Commission officials observed, the move is an attempt to “cynically circumvent our state’s carefully tailored pay-to-play state contractor provisions.”
Evan Preston, director of the Connecticut Public Research Interest Group, told the FEC last week: “Our reforms were intended to improve public faith in our political process by showing who is supporting candidates, to curb contributions that are, or could seem, corrupting, and to raise the voices of ordinary citizens so they are not marginalized by donors with significantly deeper pockets.”
I became an unaffiliated voter based on what I see as a bipartisan lack of ethics within the two major parties. But it’s not just at the state level. My local Greenwich Democrats played a big part in this, as most recently exemplified by their nomination of Marc Abrams as a candidate for state representative in the 149th District.
Greenwich DTC chair Frank Farricker, who was appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to chair the State Lottery Commission, knew of the ongoing litigation regarding sexual harassment accusations filed in 2010 against Mr. Abrams, yet the Greenwich DTC nominated him anyway. Farricker described the allegations as “baseless.” In Mr. Abrams’ statement announcing his withdrawal from the race and his opponent’s “viciousness,” he said he will be exonerated in state court, but he never denies that he wrote the misogynist emails in question.
But before that — the same day the details of the sexual harassment case appeared on Kevin Rennie’s blog — New York Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s endorsement of Mr. Abrams appeared in the Greenwich Free Press, claiming: “I personally know Marc will be a powerful advocate for women’s rights.”
It’s not clear whether Rep. Maloney also thinks the allegations against Abrams are baseless. But an OpenSecrets.org search of campaign records shows donations to Rep. Maloney from both Marc Abrams and his brother, Russell Abrams, who also was named in the sexual harassment suit.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Russell Abrams has donated almost $17,000 to her campaign since 2004, plus an additional $10,000 donation to her Carolyn PAC. He also donated $10,000 to Connecticut’s Democratic Party. Marc Abrams has donated more than $5,000 to Rep. Maloney’s campaigns since 2008, and he has given more than $11,000 to the Connecticut Democratic Party. I emailed Rep. Maloney asking for comment, but did not receive one prior to publication.
But I’m not alone in my bipartisan disillusionment. A January 2014 Gallup poll showed 42 percent of Americans identified as independents, more than identified with either major political party, and 12 percentage points higher than a similar poll taken 10 years earlier.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, a historian and writer whom I admire greatly, was a recent guest of the Connecticut Forum for a discussion called, “Debating Our Broken Political System.” She observed: “If I had to name one reason why it’s broken, it is power of money in the system today. It is the poison in the system . . . it is the amount of time that it takes our politicians to raise the funds, it’s the special interests that they are then beholden to, it’s the fact that they’re not doing the business of the country, and I blame everybody for it.”
If we want to restore faith in government, we need a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United and McCutcheon decisions.
As the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform wrote:
“If Americans do not trust that the system is on the level and think it has broken down, the United States will no longer be able to claim a government that rules with the consent of the governed.”
Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU, and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.
Tags: ethics, corruption, John Rowland, Marc Abrams, Michael Jarjura, Carolyn Maloney, Frank Farricker, CT Democrats, SEEC, FEC, Bipartisan Policy Center, Sarah Darer Littman
Another Debate Scheduled In Race for State Treasurer
State Treasurer Denise Nappier, who bowed out of her first debate for “personal reasons,” said Friday that she will participate in a debate hosted by NBC Connecticut on Wednesday, Oct. 29.
The debate between Nappier and her Republican opponent, Tim Herbst, will be moderated by NBC Connecticut reporters Max Reiss and George Colli. It will air live on NBCConnecticut.com and an abbreviated version will air on Sunday, Nov. 2.
Herbst answered questions on Oct. 7 at the Hartford Public Library because Nappier did not attend. She canceled that morning due to “personal reasons” which she has refused to elaborate upon.
The debate will last a total of 22 minutes.
“With an $80 billion deficit you have families and taxpayers on the hook for these responsibilities. Teachers and state employees are reliant on these funds and to think a 22 minute debate is enough time is insulting to those families and those retirees,” J.R. Romano, Herbst’s campaign manager, said Friday. “We’re thrilled that she agreed, but it’s nowhere near enough so voters can understand how we’re going to dig our way out of this problem.”
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OP-ED | Cut Out the Ebola Panic and Get Informed
How quickly it all has come home. A few weeks ago we could forget about Ebola in our smug, self-satisfied, American way. After all, it was “over there,” in African countries we can never remember the names of, killing people whose lives we don’t value. But now this disease is right here in our own backyard, and it has our full attention.
So far, the reaction has not been pretty. The news has been breathless, people are getting jittery, and many of our political leaders have been busy trying to grandstand or place blame on the other party instead of appealing for calm and common sense. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats for the agency’s clumsy handling of the first U.S.-based case of Ebola, and one Republican congressman said the CDC director was “the new commander of the Democrats’ war on woman nurses.” President Obama, under pressure from all sides, hastily and showily canceled a campaign appearance with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in Bridgeport Wednesday to meet with the cabinet over Ebola fears.
Here in Connecticut, state Republicans have been calling for hearings, while Mark Greenberg, Republican candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, has launched an attack against his opponent, Rep. Elizabeth Esty, saying that she should have done more to urge the president to protect the country from Ebola. Greenberg wants a travel ban, which seems rather like closing the barn door after the horses are long gone. Esty fired back that it was the “Tea Party Republicans” who were responsible for slashing research funding.
So, Ebola is here, and our leaders are doing their usual brilliant job of failing us. But instead of worry, panic, and political finger-pointing, it’s far more productive to take a clear-headed, reasonable look at the disease, what we’re doing, and why Ebola, while frightening, is not something we should panic about.
In my other life I am an academic librarian who does a lot of work with health sciences programs, so let’s go find some solid, reliable research and public health information about Ebola. The CDC itself has an excellent page (www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/) all about Ebola, what it is, and the current outbreak. Another fantastic resource is MedlinePlus (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ebola.html), which is the public health information arm of the National Institute of Health. If you don’t care for U.S. government sources, the World Health Organization also has a useful page on Ebola (www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/). All of these sites have sober, easy-to-understand information about Ebola that presents the disease as what it really is: a dangerous, deadly virus that is harder to catch than you might think.
The upshot is that the Ebola virus is a hemorrhagic fever, which means a fever that causes severe bleeding. It likely is transmitted to humans by infected animals, and is mainly transmissible through direct contact with the body or bodily fluids of someone who is infected. There is currently no scientific evidence at all that Ebola can be transmitted through the air. This means that if proper precautions are taken and people are aware of any potential risk factors, exposure to Ebola can be sharply limited.
This is why Greenberg’s suggestion of a travel ban or barring anyone from West African countries with Ebola cases is neither practical nor effective. It’s impossible to close off the borders completely, after all, and agents at land border crossings are in no way set up to screen people for a disease that, in its early stages, presents like the flu.
In fact, a lot of our response to Ebola smacks of xenophobia and racist attitudes toward Africa as a continent of deadly diseases and expendable lives. That’s the real reason for Ebola panic; we don’t want to think of ourselves as victims or of our country being “invaded” by something that is scary, foreign, and associated with what we think of as third-world misery. That’s why there’s a mini-panic over the incredibly benign West Nile virus every year.
This strain of Ebola is deadly, to be sure, and there currently is no cure. There are two vaccine candidates, but it will be several months before they’re ready — if they work at all. In the meantime, an aware, educated public and well-trained health care workers are our best defense against the disease — not panic, finger-pointing, and xenophobia.
So go read up on Ebola. It’s really the best thing you can do.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
Tags: ebola virus, CDC, public health, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, Susan Bigelow, dh
OP-ED | Voters Should Reject Nappier’s Phantom Candidacy
Question: What kind of person would you want to steward upward of $30 billion in pension assets and manage a busy office of about a dozen people whose business it is to look after the retirement plans of about 194,000 workers?
You’d want a person with advanced knowledge of investment policy, a solid, hands-on manager and, in the case of an elected official, someone willing to appear in public and defend her record against the man who wants to replace her.
This is not asking a lot of a public official, especially a constitutional officer charged with protecting the interests of so many taxpayers. But based on what we’ve seen in the last few years — and especially the last few months — state Treasurer Denise Nappier fails that test on two of those three accounts.
Nappier is the first African-American woman elected as state treasurer, which is similar to the position she held previously with the City of Hartford. She is obviously a qualified candidate for re-election for the office she has held since 1998, but you’d hardly notice it. Campaign appearances have been kept to a minimum; media availabilities are rare. And for good reason: in her few appearances, Nappier has looked erratic and confused.
She has thus far refused to debate her opponent, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst. A debate to which the Nappier camp had agreed was scheduled for last Tuesday. But that morning she abruptly pulled out and would only say it was “for personal reasons.” Nappier’s elusiveness has even given Herbst the opening to engage in the gimmicky debating-an-empty-chair routine.
After bowing out of that debate, Nappier had no problem the following morning making an appearance before the editorial board of the New Haven Register, where she was questioned about the previous day’s debate cancellation. She refused to elaborate. Really? It is simply unacceptable to pull out of a previously scheduled event of such importance without a darned good excuse.
For some strange reason, Nappier seems to feel that exchanges with editorial boards are lower risk for her than other public appearances or an actual exchange with her opponent. She did another editorial board meeting Sept. 17 with The Hartford Courant.
She was just as unsteady with The Courant as previous appearances suggested she would be. On numerous occasions, Nappier paused uncomfortably for several seconds before answering and gave rambling and sometimes incoherent answers. Rather than try to knock her further off balance, the board appeared to feel sorry for her and later, bored to tears with her long-winded and vacuous replies.
Some observers, including the admittedly partisan Chris Healy, found factual errors in Nappier’s Courant interview as well. Still others have mockingly wondered who would be seen in public first — Nappier or reclusive North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un?
Even before her halting performance in this year’s campaign, Nappier’s reputation preceded her. Some Democratic insiders acknowledge she keeps strange work hours, is given to outbursts at employees and blathers on during her rare public appearances.
A video has surfaced of Nappier speaking at an event honoring firefighters and extolling their virtues in bizarre terms, telling them, “You are strong. You are good looking and you are committed to a noble profession.” The body language of fellow Democrats Gov. Dan Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (staring at their feet) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (looking nervous with every word) is most revealing.
And there was that mysterious 2011 event in which Hartford police responded to a call in what the cops said was “a well-known narcotics outlet” in one of the city’s high-crime neighborhoods, only to find Nappier pulling into a housing complex parking lot in what a DMV check erroneously said was an unregistered vehicle — her state-issued Crown Victoria. Nappier disputes the police account that she refused a ride home (she called it “fictitious”), but the cops insist that she did so. Instead, Nappier inexplicably walked the three miles back to her West End home.
Strangely, there is almost nothing on her campaign website, aside a from a recent television commercial — the first of her mercurial 2014 bid for re-election. I don’t know Nappier personally and I’m not privy to the goings-on in her life, but no candidate who refuses to engage her opponent in a public forum deserves to re-elected. Like most of the other five elected constitutional officers in the state, hers is a very important job in whom taxpayers place an enormous fiduciary trust. One need look no further than Nappier’s predecessor to see the damage a truly bad treasurer can do.
No matter what their political persuasion, the people of this great state would be fools to re-elect Nappier.
Visconti Tries To Steer Opponents Toward Budget Deficit
NEW LONDON — During his first gubernatorial debate appearance, third-party candidate Joe Visconti used nearly every question to try to get Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley to debate projected state budget deficits.
Thursday night’s one-hour debate at New London’s Garde Arts Center was the former West Hartford town councilman’s first time on stage with his major party opponents and he sought to shift the event’s focus to a $1.278 billion budget deficit the state is projected to face in fiscal year 2016.
“I have not heard that discussed on this stage and this is why I am here. We have three tidal waves coming,” he said.
At one point in the debate, hosted by The Day, Connecticut Public Television, and WNPR, Visconti asked whether Foley had a “magic wand” to fix the deficit while keeping promises to hold spending flat and make a cut to the sales tax.
Malloy shrugged off the topic.
“There will not be a deficit in year one, two or three, as has been referenced,” Malloy said. The deficit projections rely on estimates the state will increase spending by 7.8 percent. The governor said his administration has increased spending by an average of 2.8 percent a year.
Visconti insisted there would need to be spending cuts. Several times during the debate, he stressed that he was not trying to blame Malloy for the deficits. Foley took a different approach, claiming Malloy was planning to raise taxes.
“There’s no other way the math works, he’s going to have to raise your taxes,” Foley said. Meanwhile, Foley said he would hold spending flat and save money by cutting some of Malloy’s economic development programs. Foley insisted he would have enough money to cut the state sales tax.
While Malloy and Foley appeared deadlocked with 43 percent of the vote in the last Quinnipiac University poll, Visconti trailed with 9 percent. At times during the debate, Malloy seemed delighted to have Visconti on stage, using him as a foil to attack Foley.
In response to a question on the strict gun control regulations passed in the wake of the Newtown massacre, Visconti called for changes to the law’s strict assault weapon definition and its limitations on extended ammunition magazines. Malloy used Visconti’s specific proposals to attack Foley for his vague disapproval of the law.
“Let me compliment Mr. Visconti — at least he tells you what he thinks and what he wants to do,” Malloy said. “. . . Mr. Visconti, I give you a lot of credit for taking this issue on. We disagree, but I give you credit.”
Later, the governor used Visconti as part of his justification for a mailer, which the Democratic Party funded on his behalf using money from an account designated for federal races. Malloy was asked whether the move “made a mockery” of state campaign finance laws. He said the party was complying with federal law, if not state law.
“Right now, we’re in a pretty tight race and we have a third-party candidate, who appears to be coming on,” Malloy said of Visconti. “And we need to spend money.”
Foley pointed out that by using the federal account to pay for the mailer on behalf of Malloy, Democrats have drawn from an account where state contractors donate.
“The’re trying to circumvent the law. The problem with the system is there probably won’t be a judicial determination until after the election. He knows that and then it will be too late to do anything about it. That is corrupt,” Foley said.
Malloy responded by pointing out, for a second time Thursday night, that Foley paid a $16,000 penalty to election regulators last year for commissioning a poll before he was officially a candidate. As Malloy questioned him, Foley twice insisted he did not pay a fine.
“I did not pay a $16,000 fine,” Foley said.
“Remember that, folks,” Malloy shot back.
Visconti took the question as an opportunity to oppose the public financing program both Malloy and Foley participated in this year.
“That’s political welfare for these fine gentlemen to run for office. Those negative ads you saw on TV? You paid for ‘em,” he said. “You won’t see our ads because we don’t have the money.”
The debate also saw the candidates debating the causes of climate change for the first time this year. Foley declined to state whether he believed it to be a man-made phenomenon.
“It doesn’t really matter, it’s happening,” he said. “A leader and people in positions of public responsibility need to address a threat. So I don’t think there’s any debate about whether it’s happening.”
Visconti said he believed climate change was in-part man made “but not the activities necessarily that some scientists believe.” Malloy answered, “Of course it matters and yes it has to do with the particulate in the air.”
After the debate, Foley told reporters he wasn’t “an expert on global warming” and hadn’t read all the reports.
Malloy had a different take after the debate.
“Tom Foley had a meltdown on climate change tonight. Of course it makes a difference because we know what’s causing climate change. It’s particulate, it’s certain greenhouse gasses being put into the atmosphere at unprecedented amounts,” he said.
Tags: Garde Arts Center, debate, Malloy, Foley, Visconti, state budget, Citizens Election Program, climate change, dh
Gabby Giffords Makes A Pitch For Common Sense Gun Laws
Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords on Thursday urged Connecticut women to join her in standing up for common sense laws that keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women,” Giffords told a group of female doctors, lawyers, and advocates against domestic violence. “Criminals with guns, abusers with guns, stalkers with guns that make gun violence a huge issue for mothers, for families, for me and you, women can lead the way. We stand up for common sense.”
Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting in Arizona that killed six people, urged the women who attended the gathering at Kingswood Oxford in West Hartford to “change our laws.”
Giffords’ visit Thursday was the third on her nine-state tour sponsored by Americans for Responsible Solutions, an advocacy organization she founded with her husband Mark Kelly. The organization seeks to encourage elected officials to stand up for both the 2nd Amendment and safer communities.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was one of the few men to attend the event, said it’s “unforgivable” that Congress hasn’t acted on universal background checks and legislation that aims to protect domestic violence victims who have a temporary restraining order against their abusers.
“You cannot be against domestic violence and fail to take a stand against gun violence,” Blumenthal said. “They are two heads of a single monster.”
Blumenthal told the women not to lose hope. He reminded them that it took 12 years to pass the Brady bill — named after the late Jim Brady, who was shot in 1981 and was permanently disabled.
“We’re not going to give up,” Blumenthal said. “We’re not going away. We are determined to make it happen. We are on the right side of this issue.”
Karen Jarmoc, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Connecticut averages 14 domestic violence homicides per year and “guns continue to be the main use of force in a domestic violence murder in our state.”
Dr. D’Andrea Joseph, a trauma surgeon at Hartford Hospital, said she was encouraged by Blumenthal’s statement regarding the Brady bill. Anne Mahoney, a prosecutor, said she worries about what happens to the children who witness this domestic violence.
“They don’t learn how to behave properly or how to cope with the trauma that’s been inflicted upon them,” Mahoney said.
Hayley Zachary, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, said that when they were forming their organization they looked at research on public attitudes toward gun ownership, gun violence, responsible gun ownership, domestic violence, and found “an enormous gender gap.”
She said the public supports common sense solutions to these problems that don’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners. She said nothing they spoke about Thursday would impact the rights of responsible gun owners.
“The public overwhelmingly supports common sense solutions,” Zachary said. “But there’s an enormous gender gap and women are far more in favor of common sense solutions and women are the majority of the electorate.”
But she warned there is a very vocal minority opposed to any of the measures supported by the organization.
“There are way more of us and if we make our voices heard even more loudly in proportion to the percentage we are, we’ll empower our leaders to make even more change,” Zachary said.
The event was hosted by the advocacy arm of the 501c4 organization and not the Super Pac, which has donated about $550,000 toward a Connecticut group called Common Sense Connecticut. About $50,000 of that money was used to hire a polling firm for the benefit of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign. According to the forms filed late Thursday night with the election regulators about $250,000 will be spent on a television ad promoting Malloy, while another $250,000 will be spent on an ad criticizing his Republican opponent Tom Foley.
Tags: Gabby Giffords, Americans for Responsible Solutions, domestic violence, Richard Blumenthal, Karen Jarmoc, dh
Yale Grad student who Traveled to Liberia Tests Negative for Ebola After Hospitalization
(Updated 4:48 p.m.) A graduate student at the Yale School of Public Health has tested negative for Ebola after being hospitalized with symptoms of the deadly virus Wednesday night at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The student, who returned from Liberia on Saturday, was being treated in isolation Thursday.
The student has not been identified and officials have declined to provide any identifying information, including whether the student is a man or a woman. According to a source, the student does not have children.
A specimen was sent to a lab in Boston and preliminary results were released about 4:45 p.m.
Officials said the patient’s condition improved upon being admitted to the hospital.
Click here to read more from the New Haven Register.
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Health Care Tax Credit Available This Tax Year
A new tax credit is available to help small-business owners provide health insurance to their employees, but certain stipulations are limiting the number of those who can reap its benefit.
The Health Care Tax Credit is an option for eligible businesses beginning this tax year and can be claimed for two consecutive years. The maximum credit is 50 percent of healthcare premiums paid for small-business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for tax-exempt small employers like nonprofits, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS is urging all small-business owners in the state to explore whether they qualify for the tax credit.
There are benefits to those who do. Employers who don’t owe taxes during the year can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years. And since the amount of health insurance premiums is greater than the total credit claimed, eligible employers still are able to claim a business expense deduction for any premium costs that exceed the credit amount, according to the IRS. Also, the credit is refundable for tax-exempt employers.
But not all business owners can take advantage; there are several criteria they need to meet to be eligible. They must have fewer than 25 employees; cover premiums on behalf of workers enrolled in a health plan offered through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace, or qualify to be exempt from that requirement; and pay a uniform percentage for all employees that equals at least 50 percent of the insurance premium cost.
In addition to other stipulations, the average annual wages paid to full-time-equivalent employees must be less than $51,000, according to the IRS.
While the tax credit can help some Connecticut employers, many are ineligible to claim it because of that salary requirement, according to Jennifer Herz, assistant counsel at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. CBIA is the state’s largest business trade group and frequently advocates for tax policy and legislation that reduce the cost of doing business.
“There aren’t a ton of employers who have been able to take advantage of it,” she said, since many pay workers an average annual salary of more than $51,000. Also, many small-business owners in the state have more than 25 employees, which makes them ineligible.
But for those who qualify, she said, claiming the credit is worthwhile. “It’s a good thing for employers to have this available to them,” she said.
Herz cautioned that business owners who use the credit must keep in mind that it is not available long-term. With its two-year maximum, she said, “While it’s good initially, the effect of it doesn’t really last too long.”
The cost of providing health insurance consistently ranks among Connecticut business owners’ top concerns. In CBIA’s 2014 Survey of Connecticut Businesses released last month, 16 percent of employers said it was their biggest worry. It ranked third behind the state and national economies, respectively, and is a bigger concern than the tax burden in the state.
Most business owners in the state provide benefits like health insurance to their workers, Herz said, but the escalating expense makes it increasingly difficult.
Adding to their stress, she said, Connecticut is among the top five states when it comes to health benefit mandates, and each time lawmakers pass another mandate it adds to employers’ financial burden.
“The costs continue to rise and that puts a lot of pressure on them,” she said. “It’s a top concern for Connecticut employers.”
Tags: IRS, health care tax credit, SHOP, CBIA, Jennifer Herz, Cara Rosner, dh
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5th District Notebook: Greenberg’s Personal Spending on Campaigns Approaches $4 Million
Republican Mark Greenberg, the Litchfield real estate developer challenging U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s bid for a second term representing Connecticut’s 5th District, has spent nearly $4 million so far in three attempts at the seat.
Greenberg, who made his money in residential and commercial real estate in Connecticut and New York, spent about $3 million of his own money in unsuccessful Republican primary bids in 2010 and 2012.
This year, unopposed for the Republican nomination, he has loaned his campaign more than $1.1 million, but repaid himself approximately $280,000 after receiving donations of $300,000 from individuals and political action committees. He has donated $70,000 to the campaign outright.
Esty has raised more than $2.5 million for her re-election bid. She loaned her own campaign more than $500,000 in her first bid for Congress two years ago, but hasn’t made any loans to her campaign this year.
IOWA GETS ESTY CASH: Politico reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will spend $600,000 to help an incumbent Iowa congressmen whose seat it once thought was safe, shifting the funds from helping an incumbent — Connecticut’s Elizabeth Esty — it once thought was vulnerable but increasingly believes will be re-elected comfortably.
DEMS ATTACK WRONG MARK GREENBERG: Saying that Mark Greenberg “identifies as Jewish” in an “opposition research book” about him wasn’t the only embarrassing part of the DCCC’s effort to help Esty defeat the Republican challenger. The Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender, who originally obtained a copy of the document, has exposed that many areas of “attack research” listed are based on the wrong person. There’s apparently more than one Mark Greenberg who has been involved in real estate development and management in New York.
“It’s a complicated story that demonstrates the pitfalls of doing research on the Internet without following up by speaking directly with people named in property documents, corporate records, and court actions,” Lender wrote. “The Courant did speak directly with the people named in those documents.”
Esty said she has not personally read the opposition research book prepared by the DCCC, but that “both sides” do this kind of thing. And although the potential negative items about Greenberg were compiled in a document, the Esty campaign has not publicly used the items Lender debunks to attack Greenberg.
Greenberg’s campaign alleges that someone has been using the bogus research on Esty’s behalf. It has complained about “push polls” being undertaken in the 5th District that mention material from the research book. Esty has denied knowledge or involvement in the use of push polls.
EBOLA: Mark Greenberg showed prescience in making Ebola a campaign issue in the 5th District race. A day after Greenberg called for a travel ban from affected countries in West Africa and criticized Esty and President Obama for not taking more drastic measures, a second health care worker in Texas was diagnosed with the disease. Revelations that the woman took an airline flight to Cleveland, potentially exposing more people, caused some panic. Republican leaders in Connecticut called for a hearing on the state’s readiness to fight the disease. And Obama canceled an appearance in Bridgeport on behalf of Gov. Dan Malloy to stay in Washington and meet with his cabinet about the Ebola outbreak.
EARLY VOTING: Unlike other states that have increasingly experimented with “early voting,” you can’t cast a ballot in Connecticut’s 5th District Congressional race before Tuesday, Nov. 4, unless you swear the reason is that you will be “out-of-state, are disabled, or are unable to go to the polls on Election Day because of . . . religious beliefs.”
Laura Maloney, spokeswoman for the Esty campaign, said that Esty supports a referendum on the ballot this year that would change the Connecticut state constitution to open the door to early voting.
DEBATE WILL COST $40: The second (and possibly final) debate between Elizabeth Esty and Mark Greenberg could draw a significantly smaller crowd than the hundreds who showed up for their first meeting in Danbury last week. There will be an admission charge — $40 — for the noon to 2 p.m. debate that will be hosted by the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.
GREENBERG WON’T TALK GUNS?: The Republican-American newspaper of Waterbury published a brief news article Tuesday claiming that Mark Greenberg is refusing to be interviewed about his stance on gun control. Under the heading, “Greenberg rejects interview on guns,” the newspaper wrote that “Greenberg’s campaign refused repeated requests for an interview” about comments he made during a debate in Danbury the night before. Those comments — agreeing with Elizabeth Esty that the country should adopt universal background checks for gun purchases — led the National Rifle Association to drop its rating of Greenberg’s candidacy from “A” to “F.” As noted in the Republican-American article, though, Greenberg did speak freely with CTNewsJunkie.com about the issue at a fundraiser in Cheshire Friday night. He also spoke to a reporter with the News-Times of Danbury about the issue.
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Connecticut Governor’s Race Is Now The Most Negative In The Country
The contest between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley has generated a higher percentage of purely negative advertisements than any governor’s race in the country, according to a study by the Wesleyan Media Project.
The study, which was released Tuesday, found that 79.5 percent of the ads in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race were negative. Florida’s race followed closely with 79.2 percent of the ads being negative in message. Wisconsin had the third highest percentage of negative ads with 77.1 percent.
In a phone interview, Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said the prevalence of negative ads is likely a result of the close nature of the gubernatorial race. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found Malloy and Foley deadlocked at 43 percent.
“The conventional wisdom is that when you’re way ahead you don’t have to run negative ads,” he said. “When you’re in a close race or when your negatives outweigh your positives, then you run negative ads.”
Schurin said there is evidence that negative advertisements effectively turn off independent voters, leaving both parties with their traditional voting bases. In a blue state like Connecticut, that benefits Democrats. However, Foley’s campaign likely believes it can capitalize on Malloy’s high unfavorability rating, he said.
Foley’s most recent ad, released Monday, does not mention Malloy by name, but asserts that the economy is suffering. The ad features Foley’s family as his wife, Leslie Fahrenkopf Foley, talks about Connecticut families feeling “squeezed” by rising costs. Foley then says he has a pro-growth plan to get “pride and prosperity” to come “roaring back.”
However, Foley’s previous ad, released last week, accused Malloy of habitually lying. The ad depicted Malloy with a Pinocchio-style growing nose.
Meanwhile, Malloy’s most recent ad, called “Yacht,” tries to paint Foley as an out-of-touch millionaire.
“The world must look different from a $5 million yacht,” a narrator says in the ad.
Schurin said the campaigns are likely to continue airing negative TV spots right up until Election Day.
“I think we’ll see more of it and it will come not just from campaigns themselves. It will come from the so-called independent groups,” Schurin said.
There has already been a steady stream of ads funded by Super PACs. Connecticut Forward, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association and labor groups, released a new ad on Tuesday attacking Foley’s character and relationship with working people.
“He’s like the guy who leaves a $1 tip on a $20 check. Because in Tom Foley’s eyes, the less you give workers, the better,” a narrator says.
Meanwhile, an ad released this week by Grow Connecticut, a group bankrolled by the Republican Governors Association, stressed the $1.8 billion tax increased passed by Malloy during his first term in office in an effort to close a $3.6 billion budget deficit.
“The middle class. That’s who got hurt the most,” a woman, identified only as Sonya from Windsor, says.
Following the release of a Quinnipiac University poll last week, poll Director Douglas Schwartz said the barrage of negativity may be working in Malloy’s favor and against Foley. The poll suggested voters were evenly split on the two candidates, meaning Malloy had eliminated a six-point lead held by Foley just a month earlier. Schwartz suggested that may be attributable to Malloy’s aggressive tactics in recent televised debates.
“We haven’t seen much of a change in how people feel about Malloy. So while the race has gotten better for Malloy, it’s not because people like him more, it’s because they like Foley less,” he said.
The Wesleyan report covered ads from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9 and found a total of 2,398 ads in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race. Of those, 1,483 were pro-Democratic at a cost of $1.8 million and 915 were pro-Republican at a cost of $840,000.
Nationwide, the study found that 50.8 percent of gubernatorial ads have been negative this election cycle, while 32 percent were positive and 16.8 percent were considered “contrast” ads. That’s a higher percentage of negative ads than in 2010, when 39.2 percent of the ads were considered negative.
Tags: Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, negative ads, Wesleyan Media Project, dh
Republicans Call For Ebola Hearing
Republican legislators called Wednesday for a public hearing on Connecticut’s plans to respond to a potential Ebola outbreak, while state officials stressed that health services were prepared to deal with any cases that might arise.
“The public is confused and anxious over the spreading virus and needs more information,” House Republican leader Larry Cafero said in a press release.
“I believe we need to bring together experts to inform the public as best we can and identify procedures in the event that there are cases that show up in our state,” he added.
While there have been no cases of Ebola confirmed in Connecticut so far, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declared a public health emergency last week, which gives the public health commissioner authorization to order isolation and quarantine of individuals suspected of carrying Ebola.
House Republican spokesman Pat O’Neil cited cases of two nurses in Texas contracting Ebola as cause to bring more attention to response protocols.
“The CDC is telling us we can expect more of these cases. We don’t really know what the protocols are,” he said.
The goal of the forum would be to bring state health officials and experts together to clarify how hospitals would respond to an Ebola case and answer any questions the public might have about the virus.
State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, the ranking Republican member of the House Public Health Committee, said that he had sent a letter to the Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen requesting a hearing. Srinivasan is a doctor who specializes in allergy medicine.
While Department of Public Health spokesman Bill Gerrish said they had not received the invitation and couldn’t comment on whether they would participate in a public hearing, he said Connecticut hospitals have been preparing to identify and treat any cases of Ebola should they arise.
“We’ve been monitoring the situation in West Africa and receiving guidance from the CDC,” Gerrish said. “We’ve been communicating with many groups of providers over the past several weeks.” The department has extensive information about Ebola available on its website for the public and for health professionals
Gerrish said the department has sent communications to groups of health professionals, including hospitals, school-based health centers, EMS workers, and 60,000 registered nurses.
“Any acute care hospital in the state . . . is capable of caring for an Ebola patient,” Gerrish said.
Making health workers aware of Ebola symptoms and gathering a travel history are part of the protocol being implemented at state hospitals to screen for potential cases, Gerrish said.
Tuesday, all 29 hospitals in Connecticut returned an Ebola-readiness survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Mullen. She will review the surveys to see if any hospitals need more support from the state.
O’Neil said the state’s response to Ebola so far has been appropriate. Declaring a public health emergency was “the first step. I think it was probably the right move,” he said.
In Washington, several congressional Democrats including U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro called for a hearing on budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the CDC.
Tags: ebola virus, Kristi Allen, dh
Democratic Party Goes Forward With Malloy Mailer
The Connecticut Democratic Party didn’t wait for the Federal Election Commission to rule on whether it was okay to use federal funds on a mailing featuring Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Instead, it sent the mailing.
The mailing, which arrived at the home of a registered Democrat this week, touts Malloy’s record of investing in education and was paid for using money from the party’s federal account.
“By investing nearly $562 million in education, Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy is improving our schools,” the mailer reads.
The disclaimer at the bottom says it was “Paid for by the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, www.ctdems.org, and not authorized by any federal candidate or candidate’s committee.”
Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party said with conflicting guidance from state and federal regulators “we are forced to proceed based upon our good-faith interpretation of federal law.”
He said the party sought the advice of federal regulators as “an extra quality control step… to ensure we are in compliance with both the letter of the law and its spirit.”
The mailer arrived the same day as the public comment period on the Democratic Party’s request to the FEC closed.
House Republican Leader Lawrence Cafero, whose caucus objected to the Democratic Party’s request, was surprised to learn the party took action before receiving guidance from federal regulators.
“The fact that they acted before receiving clarification means they broke the law and the SEEC [State Elections Enforcement Commission] has to take action against the candidate who benefited, in this case the governor, the party, and the treasurer,” Cafero said.
He called the decision to move forward with the mailing “brazen.”
“Not only did they take the bold step of asking, but the brazen step of doing it without even a response,” Cafero said. “If they broke the law they should be subject to fines and penalties.”
The State Elections Enforcement Commission told federal regulators Tuesday that if the Democratic Party was allowed to send this mailing it would “cynically circumvent our state’s carefully tailored pay-to-play state contractor provisions.”
The Connecticut Democratic Party asked the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 1 to allow it to use funds donated to its federal account to pay for a mailer. The deadline for individuals and organizations to object to the request closed Tuesday.
State election regulators said what the Connecticut Democratic Party is essentially trying to do is to get federal election regulators to issue a decision that would allow it to pre-empt Connecticut laws that ban clean election candidates from receiving state contractor donations. Its objection to federal regulators outlines the history of corruption in the state, which led to passage of the Citizens Election Program in 2005.
An attorney for the Connecticut Democratic Party who filed the request with the Federal Election Commission argued that the mailing, which prominently features Malloy, also includes get-out-the-vote information. A portion of federal party funds that can be used for get-out-the-vote efforts.
But state election regulators said it would be wrong for federal regulators to assume they have jurisdiction over the mailing because it “glibly” includes “a stray get-out-the-vote message.”
“The state party is essentially requesting that the Commission issue an advisory opinion stating that Connecticut may not bring an enforcement action against it for choosing to break Connecticut’s campaign finance laws by using state contractor money to pay for the portion of the Malloy mailer that is dedicated to promoting the success of a Connecticut publicly-financed candidate for Governor — an activity that is expressly prohibited by Connecticut state law,” the SEEC wrote in its objection.
The Connecticut Democratic Party uses a footnote in its request to explain that it’s been separating state contractors from non-state contractors in its federal fund.
“Although it is not germane to the proper disposition of this request, it is worth noting that the CDSCC [Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee] has established a segregated federal account in which it deposits contributions from known state contractors. This account is not used for any communication that advocates the election or defeat of any state or local candidate and is used exclusively for federal and administrative purposes in order to ensure compliance with the spirit of Connecticut law.”
But state regulators say they have no way of knowing that.
“It is impossible to know whether the money they are accepting and using is state contractor money forbidden by state law to be used in support of state candidates. If they were going to effectively remove state contractor funds, they would use Levin funds as allowed under federal law,” the SEEC wrote in its objection Tuesday.
According to the Federal Register, the law generally requires the FEC to issue an advisory opinion within 60 days of receiving the request. However, the commission has an informal practice of attempting to respond to certain significant, time-sensitive requests within 30 days. The Connecticut Democratic Party asked for the request to receive expedited treatment, but it’s unclear at the moment whether the commission will agree.
Tags: Connecticut Democratic Party, Federal Election Commission, State Elections Enforcement Commission, Dan Malloy mailer
Obama Postpones Connecticut Trip For Ebola Briefing
President Barack Obama will not be appearing for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Wednesday night in Bridgeport. According to the White House, Obama cancelled the trip for a cabinet meeting on Ebola.
The president had been scheduled to visit New Jersey Wednesday for a fundraiser before flying to Tweed New Haven Airport to speak at a rally for Malloy’s re-election effort at Central High School in Bridgeport.
Obama’s cancellation comes amidst news reports of an Ebola diagnosis in a second nurse who treated a patient infected with the virus in Dallas. The president will convene cabinet meeting Wednesday to coordinate the government’s response, the White House said in a press release.
A statement from the state Democratic Party said the rally would be rescheduled in the coming weeks.
“Those who were planning to attend tonight’s rally will have priority to attend when the President returns later in the campaign by visiting a Democratic Party field office, dropping off their tickets, and providing their contact information,” the statement said.
Foley Hasn’t Thought About Releasing His 2013 Taxes
Today is the Internal Revenue Services deadline for tax filers who like Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley requested an extension for their 2013 income taxes.
Last month, Foley allowed reporters to look at his 2010, 2011, and 2012 taxes, which showed the owner of a private equity firm didn’t pay anything in taxes in 2011 and 2012.
Asked Tuesday if he would release his 2013 taxes, like Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy did, Foley said, “I actually hadn’t thought about that, but I’ll let you know.”
After the Oct. 2 debate between Foley and Malloy at the University of Connecticut Foley was asked about why he didn’t pay any taxes in 2011 and 2012.
“It’s pretty easy,” Foley replied. “It’s America, you don’t have any income, you don’t have to pay taxes.”
The federal returns show Foley, who files separately from his current wife Leslie Fahrenkopf, had a good 2010 with an adjusted gross income of $1.02 million, but he took a big loss of $2.8 million on an S-Corp. bringing his adjusted gross income down to a -$65,705.
Asked to give more detail about the $2.8 million loss, Foley declined.
“There was income related to a company I had and there was a loss,” Foley said on Oct. 2 after the debate.
“Can we talk about things that matter to folks in Connecticut?”
When pressed about the issue Foley chuckled and told reporters “you’re never satisfied. I released my tax returns.”
He tried unsuccessfully to change the subject. “Let’s talk about the taxes that all the citizens of Connecticut are paying,” Foley said.
“You’ve asked me to release my tax returns, I’ve done it,” Foley said. “...it’s all there figure it out.”
Asked if the $2.8 million loss speaks to Foley’s business acumen, Foley said the Malloy campaign is focusing on that because he doesn’t want to speak about his record.
“Connecticut is not faring well under this governor and he doesn’t want to talk about it,” Foley said.
As of Wednesday morning, Foley had not released his 2013 taxes and has not released any of the detail related to his state taxes. What he did release last month was the first two pages of his 2010, 2011, and 2012 federal taxes.
Tags: Tom Foley, taxes, Dan Malloy, Leslie Fahrenkopf, IRS
OP-ED | End Exemptions To Post-Election Audits
When auditing town expense accounts, would it make sense to exempt some departments? When inspecting trucks, would it make sense to exempt school buses? When inspecting restaurants, would it make sense to exempt diners? Any exemption is an opening for errors to go undetected and an opportunity for fraud.
Equally it doesn’t make sense that the Connecticut’s post-election audit law exempts all votes on questions, election day registration, originally hand-counted ballots and absentee ballots from our post-election audit. Election integrity and public confidence demand that all ballots be subject to random selection for audit. Exempt ballots already determine many elections, while the number and percentage of exempt ballots is growing.
Currently about 9 percent of ballots are absentee ballots, many elections and primaries are decided by much lower margins than 9 percent. If the State enacts early voting, following other states those numbers will almost certainly rise to over 30 percent within a few years. Compare that to the race for governor in 2010, which was officially decided by about 0.6 percent—more than triple the 2000 vote margin necessary for a recanvass. Since Connecticut recently initiated Election Day registration, we can anticipate those votes to reach 10 percent of votes in a few years, which will further add to the totals exempt from the audit.
In 2010, the audit counted over 23,000 ballots from Bridgeport for the governor’s race. We found many counting and accounting errors, especially with emergency paper ballots that were counted by hand on election night. Less known is that a handful of other towns also had similar numbers of emergency hand-counted ballots in 2010. There are hand-counted ballots in every election – all of these are currently exempt from the post-election audits.
Officials in many states hand-count votes accurately in audits, using uniform, proven and effective counting methods. In Connecticut, many municipalities use ad hoc, inadequate methods to manually count ballots. Even under the ideal planned conditions of audits, many officials argue that they cannot count ballots accurately by hand and attribute almost all differences large and small, to their own errors. Many towns manually count large numbers of ballots at the end of a demanding seventeen-hour-plus election day, when there is no expectation, planning, staff, or training to count large numbers of ballots by hand on election night. How many voters are aware that many towns now avoid scanners and hand-count all votes in some primaries? Yet, we have no audit to assess how accurate these manual-counts are.
In November 2012 officials in one town investigated a difference and determined that polling place officials mistakenly read 151 ballots into a scanner a second time. Despite checks that could have caught the error before certification, the discrepancy was not detected until the audit. In another town, a similar error was made in the central count of absentee votes. It was discovered by citizens reviewing election records and resulted in reversing the official result on a highly charged question. How common are such errors? We will never know until we stop exempting absentee ballots and questions from the audit.
The good news is that we do not have to spend more to increase confidence in our elections. Connecticut is one of twenty states with hand-count audits. Our existing audit, at 10 percent of polling places, seems among the strongest. A small state needs to audit more to achieve the same confidence as a large state. This is because the statistical confidence of an audit, just like the confidence of a poll, is more dependent on the number of units counted than on the percent of the votes or voters in the election. We can reduce that 10 percent, even counting fewer total ballots, and gain confidence by subjecting all ballots to audit, while using efficient, proven counting methods.
Luther Weeks is executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Election Audit
Greenberg, Esty Point Fingers Over Lack Of 5th District Debates
The campaigns of U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Republican 5th District challenger Mark Greenberg are swapping accusations this week over the lack of debates between the two candidates scheduled before the Nov. 4 election.
Esty and Greenberg met for their first debate in Danbury last week. Only one more debate is scheduled, before the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 21. That’s despite Greenberg’s insistence that he’ll debate as many times as Esty is willing, and the Esty campaign’s accusation that Greenberg has dodged debates she’s wanted to schedule.
The fighting started when Esty’s campaign issued a press release earlier this month claiming that Greenberg had “dropped out” of two of the four debates that had been scheduled for the 5th District campaign this fall. The sponsors of those debates, the Republican-American of Waterbury and the League of Women Voters in New Britain, clarified that Greenberg didn’t “drop out” - he just never committed to the dates they’d proposed.
Greenberg responded with a letter directly to Esty saying he’d participate in “any debate sponsored by a nonpartisan organization” before the election. He requested that she share her schedule “as soon as possible so that we may participate in as many debates as possible.”
His campaign was more blistering in a press release issued around the same time.
“After being caught lying about candidate debates in the 5th District Congressional race, Elizabeth Esty should come clean and agree to actually debate Mark Greenberg,” it said. “Last Friday, Elizabeth Esty tried to create another one of her serial ‘made-up issues’ in order to distract attention from the disastrous policies of Dan Malloy and Barack Obama which she has supported, ‘with every breath,’ over the past two years.”
The campaign said that “Mark Greenberg has unilaterally agreed to debate Esty on any terms.”
Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, said that he’s heard nothing from the Esty camp about scheduling more debates since then.
“We will debate any time, any day, any place,” he said.
Evans wouldn’t say why “any time, any day, any place” didn’t include the Republican-American and New Britain League of Women Voters debates.
Laura Maloney, Esty’s spokesman, said that their campaign is willing to participate and is actively attempting to schedule additional debates or candidate forums.
“We had two debates planned this week, one in Torrington and one in New Britain,” she said. “I find it odd that after pulling out of these debates, Mark Greenberg is now saying he wants to do them—conveniently now that it’s too late for the organizers to set them up.”
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Foley Faces Questions About Past Business Holdings
Tom Foley’s day in Rocky Hill didn’t go as planned. During a campaign stop, he faced new union-busting allegations over his record at a Pennsylvania manufacturing company. Meanwhile, the national AFL-CIO head appeared elsewhere in town to verbally attack him.
It was the second time in a month Foley, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, has been questioned about a strike at TB Woods in Chambersburg, Pa.
Foley owned the company for 17 years before selling it for $40 million in 2007.
News reports detailed an ugly battle in the early 1990s with 260 members of the United Auto Workers Union Local 695. The vote to reject a contract — which included a 50-cents-per-hour pay raise — and to go on strike was decided by a slim 152-140 margin. Most of the union members never crossed the picket line and eventually faded away, but not after a contentious battle with Foley, which was detailed in a report by Ken Dixon of the CT Post.
At Foley’s visit to Fair Weather Acres farm stand in Rocky Hill on Tuesday, he was questioned about why he didn’t allow the workers to return.
“The ones who chose [not] to come back obviously didn’t come back, but they had a personal choice and many of them did come back,” Foley said.
Foley maintained that the workers got bad advice from their union. The CT Post reported that the union leaders had recommended the workers accept the 50-cent an hour raise.
“The employees got very bad advice from their union. Some chose to return to work, some didn’t and the ones who didn’t lost their jobs and that’s unfortunate. But when a union puts their employees at risk by recommending a strike to them, they’re at risk. If things don’t work out for them that’s the union’s fault, not the employer’s fault.”
Meanwhile, at a press conference across town, national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election his union’s top priority. He labeled Foley “the personification of the corporate agenda.”
“He’s a CEO who sinks companies, destroys jobs, makes war on his employees and walks away with his arms full of money,” Trumka said an hour before Foley’s press conference at the AFL-CIO’s offices in Rocky Hill. “In my opinion that’s a loser of a CEO. That’s a failed CEO. Tom Foley is what is wrong with America right now.”
Trumka addressed a handful of Connecticut labor leaders at the state’s AFL-CIO offices in Rocky Hill. It was campaign stop for, Malloy, a first-term Democrat in a tough re-election fight against his 2010 Republican rival. Malloy was not in attendance.
“Our top priority is to keep Dan Malloy as governor of the state of Connecticut,” Trumka said.
During a contentious press conference, Foley defended his record as a business executive and the relationship he would have with the state’s workers if elected.
“I’ve got no problem with unions. I’m pro-worker. I’m not pro-union or anti-union but I’m pro-worker and will work fine with the employees,” he said.
But Trumka touted pro-labor policies signed by Malloy during his first term like paid sick time off for some workers and increases in the state minimum wage. He said labor activists would be working to raise Malloy’s support every day until Election Day.
“That’s really a lesson that Democratic and Republican candidates all across the country should really pay close attention to. That if you want to run for public office, stand up for people, stand up for working families,” he said.
Trumka said he expected the governor’s race to be close until Election Day. Malloy beat Foley by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2010 and a Quinnipiac University poll released last week found the two candidates in a dead heat among likely voters.
“No matter what anybody tells you, the governor’s race in Connecticut is going to come down to the wire. It’s going to be very, very tight. So voter turnout will be the deciding factor,” he said.
Trumka said labor activists are working phone banks, spreading leaflets, canvassing neighborhoods and talking with their co-workers at job sites in an effort turn out the vote for Malloy in November.
“Working families are going to push Gov. Malloy to the finish line by talking to voters every single day and evening and night between now and Election Day,” he said.
Labor unions have also contributed substantial funds to Connecticut Forward, a Super PAC supporting Malloy. As of this week, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had contributed $900,000, the Service Employees International Union COPE had contributed $500,000, and American Federation of Teacher Solidarity contributed another $500,000.
State Election Regulators Say Dem Request Would ‘Cynically Circumvent’ CT Law
The State Elections Enforcement Commission told federal election regulators Tuesday that if the Connecticut Democratic Party was able to use federal funds on a mailing for Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, it would “cynically circumvent our state’s carefully tailored pay-to-play state contractor provisions.”
The Connecticut Democratic Party asked the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 1 to allow it to use funds donated to its federal account to pay for a mailer that says “On November 4th, Vote for Dan Malloy for Governor.” A portion of the $3.8 million in the federal account has come from state contractors banned from giving money to state campaigns.
State election regulators said what the Connecticut Democratic Party is essentially trying to do is to get federal election regulators to issue a decision that would allow it to pre-empt Connecticut laws that ban clean election candidates from receiving state contractor donations. Its objection to federal regulators outlines the history of corruption in the state, which led to passage of the Citizens Election Program in 2005.
An attorney for the Connecticut Democratic Party who filed the request with the Federal Election Commission argued that the mailing, which prominently features Malloy, also includes get-out-the-vote information. A portion of federal party funds that can be used for get-out-the-vote efforts.
But state election regulators said it would be wrong for federal regulators to assume they have jurisdiction over the mailing because it “glibly” includes “a stray get-out-the-vote message.”
“The state party is essentially requesting that the Commission issue an advisory opinion stating that Connecticut may not bring an enforcement action against it for choosing to break Connecticut’s campaign finance laws by using state contractor money to pay for the portion of the Malloy mailer that is dedicated to promoting the success of a Connecticut publicly-financed candidate for Governor — an activity that is expressly prohibited by Connecticut state law,” the SEEC wrote in its objection to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.
The Connecticut Democratic Party uses a footnote to explain that it’s been separating state contractors from non-state contractors in its federal fund.
“Although it is not germane to the proper disposition of this request, it is worth noting that the CDSCC [Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee] has established a segregated federal account in which it deposits contributions from known state contractors. This account is not used for any communication that advocates the election or defeat of any state or local candidate and is used exclusively for federal and administrative purposes in order to ensure compliance with the spirit of Connecticut law.”
But state regulators say they have no way of knowing that.
“It is impossible to know whether the money they are accepting and using is state contractor money forbidden by state law to be used in support of state candidates. If they were going to effectively remove state contractor funds, they would use Levin funds as allowed under federal law,” the SEEC wrote in its objection Tuesday.
Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman Devon Puglia called the issue a conflict between state and federal law.
“That’s why we’re seeking clarification. The FEC requires — requires — dollars for these mailers to be used out of our federal account, while SEEC has stated a contrary position. We follow all rules, laws, and regulations, so any suggestion or insinuation to the contrary is entirely without merit. Tom Foley is the only person in this race who has paid a fine for violating the law — $16,000 for conducting an illegal poll,” Puglia said in an email.
Common Cause also issued its objection to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s request Tuesday.
“The Democratic State Central Committee is hoping to take advantage of more lax federal rules on fundraising by calling the mailer GOTV activity,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, senior vice president for programs and strategy of the national office of Common Cause. “The mailer is clearly a campaign piece designed to persuade voters to vote for Governor Malloy. The GOTV portion of the card is a mere 15 out of 195 words in small font in the corner of the mailer. Based on the FEC’s rules, those 15 words do not magically transform a mailer that promotes the re-election of Dannel Malloy into a GOTV piece.”
Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause’s Connecticut chapter, said they appreciate the Democratic Party’s claim that no state contractor funds would be used in the mailing, but agreed with the SEEC that “there is no way to verify the state party’s compliance with this claim.”
Common Cause is the second good government group to file an objection to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s request. Their objection is in addition to those written by nine other citizens and two Republican caucuses.
The deadline to file an objection to the request was extended until Tuesday because the deadline fell on a Sunday and Monday was a holiday.
Tags: SEEC, FEC, Democratic Party, state contractors, clean election laws, dh
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Nancy Johnson Defends Greenberg On Social Security, But Differs On Specifics
NEW BRITAIN — Nancy Johnson, the last Republican to represent Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District, defended the latest Republican to seek it on Tuesday. She told a group of senior citizens in New Britain that first-term Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is telling an “outright lie” in TV ads saying that challenger Mark Greenberg would take away their Social Security benefits.
However, in discussing a specific fix for the “down the road” Social Security insolvency issue that Greenberg warns about, Johnson spoke in favor of a plan Greenberg opposes and Esty supports. In one-on-one conversations with about 20 people who were eating lunch at the New Britain Senior Center, Johnson said that Congress should lift the cap on the amount of a worker’s income that is taxed for Social Security.
“Now that salaries are higher, you’ve got to tax up the ladder some,” she said.
Greenberg opposes that move, saying it would amount to a “tax increase,” and instead favors gradually raising the retirement age from 67 to 70, affecting the retirement of people who are 52 and younger today.
Johnson, who after 24 years lost her House seat to now-U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy in 2006, was among the last of a disappearing breed of moderate “New England” Republicans to serve in Congress. Greenberg is far more conservative on social issues, and after talking about Social Security, Johnson reiterated that she is a supporter of abortion rights and gay rights. She also feels strongly that the Supreme Court’s recent “Hobby Lobby” decision was in error, and that contraception should be a requirement of all health insurance plans.
She said that her common ground with Greenberg is on how to fix the economy and create jobs.
“The whole abortion issue is moving offstage both nationally and in Connecticut,” Johnson said. “Those social issues . . . are very separate from the rest of the Republican issues.”
Johnson urged seniors to “reject a campaign that is based on lies.”
She said no politician, from either party, “will cut the benefits of existing retirees.”
Appearing at her side, Greenberg said that he was trying to engage in an “honest discussion and debate” over protecting Social Security for current seniors’ grandchildren.
“I’m taking nothing away from you . . . That Esty commercial is false,” Greenberg said. “Please tell your friends this is not true. I will not take your benefits.”
Johnson said that Esty’s TV commercials are “pure partisan politics.”
“(Greenberg) was running a good campaign,” she said. “You don’t see him slandering other people.”
Esty’s campaign has defended their TV ads. Campaign spokesman Laura Maloney said again on Tuesday that Greenberg’s own words have cast doubt on his commitment to Social Security.
“The facts are very clear — Mark Greenberg called Social Security a ‘failure.’ And not only does he want to privatize it, but he fundamentally disparages those who have earned Social Security, saying seniors who have paid into the system and earned these benefits after lifetimes of hard work are ‘on the public dole’,” she said. “What Mark Greenberg clearly doesn’t get is that Social Security is a guarantee and a lifeline for seniors, keeping millions out of poverty. Instead, Mark Greenberg wants to dismantle it, and voters should know that.”
Greenberg said that if he is able to unseat Esty in November, he will call frequently upon Johnson to advise him on key issues facing the district.
Since leaving office, the 79-year-old Johnson has worked as a lobbyist in Washington. She said Tuesday that she has scaled back that work to “part-time.”
Tags: matt derienzo, Nancy Johnson, Mark Greenberg, Social Security, Elizabeth Esty, 5th Congressional District, dh
Family Keeps Sen. Maynard On Ballot Despite Uncertain Recovery
Sen. Andrew Maynard will appear on the ballot next month despite continued complications with his recovery from injuries sustained during a serious fall at his Stonington home 11 weeks ago, according to a Tuesday statement from his family.
Maynard, a 52-year-old Democrat who serves as co-chairman of the Transportation Committee, fell from a staircase outside hishome in July. In the statement, his family said they are still in the “difficult and unenviable position” of making decisions about Maynard’s political career as well as his medical care.
“There is understandably concern about Andrew’s abilities to carry out his duties as a State Senator. Please know that we understand and share this concern. More than anyone, we do not want to see him in a role that he is unable to carry out, no matter what benefits may accrue to him for doing so,” the statement read.
Maynard’s family notes that the legislative session does not begin until January and seats in the legislature are considered part-time jobs.
“It is our genuine belief that given the progress over the last two months Andrew will be ready to serve when the session begins. In the event that Andrew Maynard is elected to a fifth term, but cannot or chooses not to serve, the process mandates a special election. Our hope is to let the voters decide if they want to give him another term, and at the same time give our brother the chance to decide whether or not he chooses to carry out his duties if elected,” the statement read.
However, Maynard’s family also detailed some complications in the state senator’s recovery. Although he is now able to walk and has been “practicing golf putts with great success” during therapy, he has encountered challenges in speech recovery, the statement said. Maynard began taking a drug designed to speed up recovery of speech functions, but that treatment may have caused him to experience two minor seizures, they said.
Meanwhile, anti-seizure medications may have caused him to become “somewhat inattentive and sluggish in his reactions to therapists and visitors.” Maynard’s family said he has shown “noticeable improvement” under a different program of treatment.
“All indications are that his recovery remains on track in spite of the complications of the last week,” his family wrote.
Maynard will face Groton Republican Kevin Trejo in the election to retain his state senate seat.
Deadline To Qualify For Public Financing Is Friday
The State Elections Enforcement Commission has given out more than $30 million in campaign grants since May, but more than 60 people, including candidates for attorney general, comptroller, state representative, and state senator still haven’t qualified for the grant.
According to data from the SEEC website, 254 people have recieved campaign money under the Citizen’s Election Program, which provides campaign funding to candidates who raise a certain amount of money in small donations.
The commission will be handing out its last round of grants this Friday.
Kie Westby, a Republican running for attorney general, is one of the the candidates waiting for grant approval. He could not be reached for comment, but his campaign contribution disclosure forms showed that he had raised over $88,000 from individuals as of Oct. 5. His campaign is on the Oct. 16 meeting agenda and it’s possible he will qualify. If he does, he will have less than 19 days to spend $812,550.
Sharon McLaughlin, Republican candidate for comptroller, is another candidate waiting for a grant. Her contribution disclosures show she had raised $7,508 as of Sept. 30, but she needs to raise $75,000 in order to qualify for $812,550 in public funds.
Joshua Foley, a spokesman for the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said it’s normal for candidates to fail to qualify the first time they apply.
There’s no limit on the number of times a candidate can re-apply for a grant, but last Friday was the last day applications would be accepted.
“Eventually, most people who apply will get a grant, but it’s also true that most people don’t receive a grant on the first try,” Foley said.
The most common reason a contribution is disqualified is for incomplete or incorrect paperwork from donors. Contributions from state contractors, businesses, foreign nationals, and amounts of more than $30 from donors under the age of 18 are examples of prohibited contributions. Candidates also have to raise a certain amount of money from people living inside the district where they’re running for office.
If a contribution is rejected by the SEEC, it is forfeited to the Citizen’s Election Fund, not returned to the donor.
Last Wednesday, the commission awarded a total of almost $1 million to 19 more General Assembly candidates. They will award a final round of grants this Friday.
Typically, general election grant amounts are $27,850 for state representative candidates and $94,690 for state senate candidates.
Tags: State Elections Enforcement Commission, public financing, Citizens Election Program, Kristi Allen, dh
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The Politics of Ebola: Mark Greenberg Wants Tougher U.S. Stance
Republican 5th District congressional candidate Mark Greenberg criticized first-term Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty on Tuesday for not urging the U.S. government to do more to protect the country from the Ebola virus.
Greenberg, a Litchfield real estate developer, wants President Barack Obama to issue a temporary travel ban from countries in West Africa where the disease has reached an epidemic level, and a temporary suspension of travel visas for people originating from those countries. He also criticized the government’s failure to screen for the disease at major U.S. airports.
Greenberg said that Esty’s “inaction on this priority issue proves she lacks the fortitude to handle the top concerns of her constituents.”
Both political parties are using Ebola as a campaign issue this fall. Republicans, including Greenberg, are criticizing the president for not enacting a travel ban, which the administration said would harm efforts to aid those countries. Democrats, in turn, have criticized Republicans for cutting funding that would have helped the U.S. better prepare for an outbreak.
Esty listed Ebola as a top foreign policy concern in a recent interview with the Republican-American of Waterbury, and said she supports President Obama’s decision to send military aide to the countries affected. In a recent constituent newsletter, she called for “robust funding for medical research conducted by the National Institute of Health” and said, “I also voted for a bill to provide funding to combat Ebola.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is also battling for a second term this fall, got out in front of the issue recently by declaring a “public health emergency” to ensure that the state could enforce quarantines should someone contract the disease in Connecticut.
One person has died from Ebola in the United States after traveling here from West Africa. A second person in the U.S., a health care worker who helped treat the victim at a Dallas hospital, has contracted the disease.
For Greenberg, the Ebola issue relates in general to what he views as Obama’s and congressional Democrats’ weakness on the issues of terrorism and immigration.
“The Obama administration tells us we are safe and they are ‘stopping this in its tracks.’ They have done little, though, to reassure the American people recently,” Greenberg said in his statement about Ebola Tuesday. “Protocols are being broken despite promises they ‘work,’ and groups like ISIS are being dismissed as [junior varsity].’ We need Congress to take the lead in demanding a stronger response from our government.”
At a debate last week in Danbury, Greenberg said that the country is failing to “secure our borders” and that puts us at risk from “disease” and “terrorists.” He said that before Congress does anything to address a “path to citizenship” for the estimated 11 undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., it must secure its borders.
In an Oct. 3 editorial board meeting with the New Haven Register, Esty touted her sponsorship of a comprehensive immigration reform bill and said that some of Republicans’ “secure the border” talk was misguided.
“The Tea Party wants to see a wall across the entire border, dogs, video cameras, tens of billions (of dollars spent), before anything happens,” she said. “I don’t think that’s the right balance. I don’t think that’s a sensible use of U.S. tax dollars. I don’t think it’s justified.”
Following the posting of this story, Esty’s campaign released a statement Tuesday morning:
“I am deeply concerned about the growing Ebola epidemic. That’s why last month, I voted to increase funding to accelerate U.S. Department of Human Health and Services research on Ebola vaccines and to increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control to respond to the epidemic,” Esty wrote. “I also support precautionary health screenings at airports of passengers who travelled to West Africa, but I do not support an outright travel ban. American citizens have a right to return home, and a travel ban would leave American health workers who are risking their lives to volunteer in the affected areas with no way to return home.”
Laura Maloney, Esty’s campaign manager, said “it’s absurd that Mark Greenberg is sending out press releases criticizing Elizabeth for her ‘inaction’ when she voted last month on a significant response to the crisis.”
Maloney said Greenberg “needs to stop relying on Republican talking points and do his homework. Tea Party Republicans — the same Tea Party that Mark Greenberg would vote in lockstep with — have consistently voted to irresponsibly slash research funding.”
She said “across-the-board cuts chill critical research and affect companies right here in the 5th District. For example, Protein Sciences in Meriden was developing a vaccine for Ebola, but had to put it on hold due to shortages in funding from the National Institutes of Health.”
Esty voted in favor of Public Law 113-164, which was passed by the House 319-108 and provided an additional $88 million to respond to the Ebola outbreak, including $30 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $58 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within the Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Visconti Gets His Turn
While his major party opponents are busy playing host to high-profile surrogates this week, unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti is hoping to make a “quantum leap” in voter support with his first debate appearance.
Visconti, a conservative former West Hartford town councilman, petitioned his way onto this year’s gubernatorial ballot alongside Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley.
As Malloy and Foley have pummeled each other through four televised debates, Visconti has been on the sidelines, barred by participation thresholds set by debate organizers. But that changes Thursday during a one-hour debate at New London’s Garde Arts Center. The debate, hosted by The Day, Connecticut Public Television, and WNPR, will include all three candidates.
“For me, I’ve been blocked out of four debates, so I have to catch up,” Visconti said during a phone interview Monday. “But I’m a fast talker.”
Malloy and Foley are deadlocked at 43 percent of the vote, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week. The poll found Visconti’s support at 9 percent, with supporters drawn from both Foley and Malloy. Another poll released last week, conducted by Public Policy Polling, also put Visconti at 9 percent.
That’s likely to change, according to Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, who said Visconti’s support may drop as the November election draws closer.
“One thing to keep an eye on is the Visconti voters. Typically, what happens with third-party candidates, is their vote share goes down the closer you get to an election,” Schwartz told reporters last week.
But Visconti said he is hoping that the exposure of Thursday’s debate will have the opposite effect and help propel him closer to 20 percent this week.
“We need to make a jump — a quantum leap this week,” he said.
Visconti said he is hoping to see a similar benefit from a debate scheduled for next week. At the moment, that debate appears likely to include just Malloy and Visconti. Foley’s campaign has not agreed on terms with NBC Connecticut, the network organizing the event.
During Thursday’s debate, Visconti said he is hoping to force a conversation on issues that Malloy and Foley would prefer to not talk about, specifically the $1.278 billion budget deficit the state is projected to be facing in the next fiscal year.
“Malloy thinks we’ve got a surplus and Foley doesn’t want to say where he wants to cut,” he said.
Visconti said he will seek to avoid the contentious tone and personal attacks that have marked the past two debates between his major party rivals.
“I have 16 minutes only on this debate. I don’t want to be spending it doing what I saw them do [in previous debates]. If I see that coming I’ll shut that down, get a little loud if I have to,” he said.
The debate featuring all three candidates will help draw stark contrasts, he said. Visconti said Malloy’s policies have been tried and failed. Meanwhile, he said Foley will “look like an empty suit with no ideas once I’m on stage.”
Last week, Schwartz said it was likely that Visconti’s support is fleeting and driven by voters’ malaise with both major party candidates.
“Voters don’t really know Visconti, yet he’s getting 9 percent of the vote. That seems like it’s an expression of the dissatisfaction with the candidates, with Malloy and with Foley,” Schwartz said.
Visconti disagreed. He said his team of volunteers have spread thousands of palm cards at festivals, fairs, and football games over the last two weeks.
“We keep going up in polls with no money. They like to say it’s just voter anger. No, it’s our hard work on the street that we’re not getting credit for,” he said.
Tags: Joe Visconti, gubernatorial debates, Dan Malloy, Tom Foley, New London, dh
Clinton Stumps for Malloy, Touts Governor for Making Hard Decisions
Former President Bill Clinton visited Connecticut for the second time in a month on Monday in support of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is in a tight re-election battle against Republican challenger Tom Foley.
About 700 supporters turned out Monday night for a rally at the Learning Corridor in Hartford, where Clinton praised the tough decisions Malloy has made during his first term. He drew comparisons between what Malloy has done for Connecticut and what he had to do as governor of Arkansas.
Clinton said people should not believe politics is always “eating candy and never having to go to the dentist.”
“[Malloy] had a strategy that was designed to make everybody mad,” Clinton said, referring to the governor’s shared sacrifice approach to balancing the budget in 2011.
When Malloy took office, the state was facing a $3.67 billion deficit — a sum that represented about 19 percent of the state’s $19.1 billion budget at the time.
For his part, Malloy said he did the best that he could on Monday.
“I understand that there can be a difference of opinion of some of the things that I’ve done,” Malloy told the crowd. “But let me look you all straight in the face and say that every time I made a decision, every time I tried to lead, every time I spoke to legislators and every time I did a town hall meeting, I did what I truly believed was the right thing to do, to move this state forward.”
Malloy spoke about why he made the decision not to balance the state budget on the backs of local government, and instead increased taxes $1.8 billion and negotiated another $1.6 billion in contract concessions with the state’s unionized employees.
“I did what I truly believed was the right thing to do to move this state forward,” Malloy told the crowd. “. . . It is as if we took a playbook from a governor of Arkansas.”
Clinton applauded the progress Malloy has made in lowering crime, increasing graduation rates, and improving the economy.
“He did the things necessary to move Connecticut forward. He got you through this rough time,” Clinton said of Malloy.
Voters always say, “I wish they would just stand up and tell us the truth. That’s exactly what he did,” Clinton said of the first-term governor.
Drawing upon Malloy’s family life, Clinton said that said being one of eight children was beneficial in that it gave Malloy an understanding how to govern, because you get everyone together and “figure out what you gotta do to get out of the hole after you stop digging, and then go build a better future.”
Clinton said that’s what Malloy has done for Connecticut.
Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said the event was an effort to talk about the progress being made under Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. It was also about turning around years of neglect by former Republican governors.
The crowd was full of union members and state employees, including a handful who are members of Malloy’s staff. Several state agency commissioners also attended the event.
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra reminded the crowd that turnout will be key in the midterm election.
“We need the turnout,” Segarra said. “And we are going to win.”
Clinton’s visit on behalf of Malloy was the second to the state in the past month. He was one of several national figures expected to visit the state this week on behalf of Malloy and his Republican challenger, Tom Foley. On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be back in the state for a fourth visit and Louisiana Bobby Jindal will be in the state on Friday for a fundraiser. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will stump for Malloy in Bridgeport like he did back in 2010.
The latest Quinnipiac University poll showed the race between Malloy and Foley in a dead heat with third-party candidate Joe Visconti taking 9 percent of the vote.
Tags: Clinton, Malloy, Connecticut, Election 2014, Learning Corridor, dh
Esty Releases Internal Poll Showing Wide Lead in 5th District
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty’s campaign said Monday that internal polling shows her up 16 points with a 52 to 36 percent lead over Republican Mark Greenberg in her bid to seek a second term representing Connecticut’s 5th District.
Esty spokeswoman Laura Maloney said that the poll of 400 “likely” voters was conducted Oct. 8-10 and showed 12 percent of respondents undecided with less than a month before the election.
The campaign did not release the poll itself or any other details, including the breakdown of respondents’ party affiliation or other demographics. Nor did the campaign release previous internal polling that might indicate whether this result was an improvement or worse than Esty’s previous numbers. The poll came on the heels of a negative TV ad blitz the Esty campaign launched against Greenberg.
Unlike gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in Connecticut, which get attention from Quinnipiac University and other polling companies, there has been little independent pre-election polling of 5th District congressional campaigns in recent years. Occasionally, an individual campaign will release some details of their own internal polling, but like Esty in this case, they often withhold information that doesn’t fit with the narrative they want to present about their candidate.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had ranked the 5th District as one of the most competitive congressional match-ups in the country this year after Esty won by a razor-thin margin against Republican Andrew Roraback two years ago. But the DCCC recently pulled money that it was going to spend on her behalf, however, and diverted it to races where it presumably deemed the Democratic candidate to need more assistance.
Tags: matt derienzo, Elizabeth Esty, Mark Greenberg, 5th Congressional District, internal polling, dh
Officials Seek Comment on Creation of State-Sponsored Retirement Account
State officials are seeking public comment regarding the feasibility of a state-sponsored retirement plan for all private sector employees.
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and State Treasurer Denise Nappier, who co-chair the Connecticut Retirement Security Board created this year to come up with a plan, are looking for public comment on a market feasibility study that is due to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2016.
The market feasibility study will include a market analysis, recommend a plan design based on the results of such market analysis, and an assessment of the financial feasibility based on both the market analysis and recommended plan design. The state set aside about $400,000 in the most recent state budget for the study.
Lembo and Nappier said they are requesting written comment in order to help the board with its market feasibility study.
“This concept – to create a public retirement solution for private sector employees – can only be successful if everyone has a voice in this research and planning process,” Lembo said. “Retirement insecurity impacts every household and every sector, whether you’re an employee of a small business, big business or in government, so we want everyone at the table.”
The market feasibility study will examine the goals and design features of the plan, including likely participation rates, contribution rates, rate of account closures and rollovers, ability to provide employers with a payroll deposit system for remitting contributions from employees, funding options for implementation of the plan and likely insurance costs.
It will also examine whatever legal compliance is necessary to ensure that the individual retirement accounts qualify for the favorable federal income tax treatment like individual retirement accounts under the Internal Revenue Code.
No other state, aside from California, has attempted to create a state-sponsored retirement account for private sector employees.
Written public comments are due Nov. 3, and will be followed by a public hearing on Nov. 19 at a location to be determined at which the public is invited to participate.
More details about the request for public comment, including how and where to submit comments, are available on the CRSB’s website at www.osc.ct.gov/crsb/index.html.
9 Citizens, 2 Republican Caucuses and Advocacy Group Object to FEC Request
The Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, the Senate and House Republican Caucus, and nine citizens filed objections to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s request to use federal funds on statewide races.
As of late Sunday evening, the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which warned the Democratic Party twice that it shouldn’t be using its federal account on statewide candidates has not filed its objection.
The Connecticut Democratic Party made the request to the Federal Elections Commission on Oct. 1. It told regulators it was looking for permission to use money in its federal account on a statewide mailing promoting the re-election of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The Democratic Party has declined comment directly on the request.
Evan Preston, state director of ConnPIRG, said the request “would undermine the determination by Connecticut voters, embodied in our state’s campaign finance laws, that transparency is be crucial to the Integrity of state elections.”
He explained the reason behind Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, which were upheld by a federal appeals court.
“Catalyzed by repeated, prominent examples of misuse of money in politics, Connecticut passed legislation to increase campaign finance transparency and reduce the influence of special interests and large donors by empowering small-donor supported candidates with public funds through the Citizens Election Program,” Preston wrote in his objection. “Our reforms were intended to improve public faith in our political process by showing who is supporting candidates, to curb contributions that are or could seem corrupting and to raise the voices of ordinary citizens so they are not marginalized by donors with significantly deeper pockets.”
The Senate Republican Caucus went even further calling the request “boldfaced.” in its attempt to “violate the letter and spirit” of Connecticut’s clean election laws.
“With the scandals of the past not too far in the rear view mirror, this blatant money grab certainly gives the appearance, if not the reality, or corruption,” the Senate Republican Caucus wrote.
The House Republican Caucus warned in its identical objection that this is not a minor request to change Connecticut’s election laws.
“This is not a slight change to our state’s campaign finance law—it literally changes the way we run campaigns in Connecticut,” the party wrote. “To simply draft up a memorandum of clarification to the Federal Elections Commission is yet another example of why the citizens of our state continue to be disenfranchised and distrust the officials elected to represent them.”
The nine objections from the citizens were simple and straight to the point.
“Allowing use of ‘federal funds’ in state campaigns would make a mockery of campaign finance reform. Don’t do it,” Don Noel of Hartford wrote in his objection to the Democratic Party’s request.
Roger Smith of West Hartford wrote “While CT SEEC [State Elections Enforcement Commission] may believe that routing funds to parties and other groups to influence state races violates the spirit but not the letter of the law, I think it is not legal and ask for you to issue an opinion to reduce the corrupting influence of money in our elections. We have had enough political scandals over the past decade.
And Wolfriend Mielert of Simsbury wrote.“I am a registered Democrat in the state of CT, but I am against the pending request of the DSCC [Democratic State Central Committee] to use money raised for federal campaigns on/for a state candidate. Such an action will weaken state election laws.”
Tags: SEEC, FEC, ConnPIRG, Democratic Party
Malloy, Foley Agree On No Beans
There are few things two of the three gubernatorial candidates can agree on these days, but having no beans in their chili is one of them.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley visited the Windsor Chili Festival on Saturday to shake some hands, take some pictures, and try some chili.
Malloy and Foley both attended the festival, but missed each other by about a half hour.
Instead of hammering with questions about their public policy or their tax returns, CTNewsjunkie took the opportunity to ask them about how they handle food on the campaign trail.
Both the 59 year old Malloy and the 62 year old Foley are tall and fit, but eating on the campaign trail is unavoidable, especially at an event like a chili festival.
“You don’t have to eat it all,” Malloy said.
He joked though that Attorney General George Jepsen doesn’t share his philosophy when it comes to food. He said Jepsen consumes everything within sight.
Foley said he tries his best to stay away from fatty foods on the campaign trail like fried dough, but sometimes that’s unavoidable.
“I try not to eat too much because it’s hard to stay trim,” Foley said after trying some of the Windsor Republican Party’s chili. “That was a very little bit of chili. That’s not going to hurt me.”
Both Foley and Malloy agree they’ve never had bad tasting food on the campaign trail even though some of the food may have been poorly prepared.
Tags: Dan Malloy, Tom Foley, chili festival, windsor
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5th District Notebook: Esty Won’t Attend Clinton, Obama Rallies With Malloy
A campaign spokesperson said Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty won’t be joining fellow major office Democratic candidates at rallies planned for Wednesday in Bridgeport with President Barack Obama and Monday in Hartford with former President Bill Clinton.
The visits are aimed primarily at boosting the re-election bid of Gov. Dan Malloy. Esty, a fellow Democrat, is seeking a second term in Connecticut’s 5th District, which Malloy lost by more than 30,000 votes four years ago while squeaking his way to a victory statewide.
While Esty hasn’t overtly distanced herself from Malloy, who tapped her husband, Dan, as his first commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, it’s clear she’ll need support from thousands of independent voters who might choose Foley for governor and her for Congress.
Adding to the potential awkwardness if Esty were to attend either rally:
Esty has split with the Obama administration and House Democratic leadership on several key votes, including a move seen as undermining parts of the president’s Obamacare health insurance law, and a measure calling for an investigation of the IRS’s alleged targeting of conservative nonprofit organizations.
And two years ago, Clinton took the unusual step of weighing into a Democratic congressional primary by endorsing Esty’s bitter rival, Dan Roberti, at the very last minute before the election. It was widely seen as a favor called in by Roberti’s powerful Washington lobbyist father, Vin Roberti. Longtime Clinton strategist James Carville also worked on Roberti’s behalf.
But Clinton quickly rallied behind Esty in 2012, appearing on behalf of her and Chris Murphy’s campaign for U.S. Senate at a rally in Waterbury prior to that year’s general election. Fences appear to be mending after that primary, as Dan Roberti was planning to host a fundraiser for Esty at his home in Kent on Sunday.
GREENBERG’S GROCERY STORE: Mark Greenberg, the Litchfield real estate developer challenging Esty, detoured from discussion of federal political policy several times at the candidates’ first debate Thursday night in Danbury.
At one point, he lamented that it’s taken “three years” for his company to gain approval to build a larger Stop and Shop up the street from an existing location in his hometown of Litchfield. He blamed onerous wetlands regulations and a state court system that “has allowed a few people to stall this process.” He said the delay has cost the town $180,000 in additional tax revenue.
Greenberg said that he supports measures that would allow “proper development and quicker development” in order to spur economic development and job growth.
Esty responded with criticism of Greenberg’s focus on state issues, saying, “I thought we were running for Congress, not governor.”
FAMILY MATTERS: Esty’s latest TV ad features her husband and kids talking about how she’s not a typical politician, and that she returns home to Cheshire every weekend while Congress is in session. Greenberg also has used family members in campaign materials, cutting a TV ad recently with his father, Jerry, talking about Social Security, and enlisting his children in an earlier video supporting the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.”
SLOGANS: Competing groups of supporters for Esty and Greenbeg rallied outside the Portuguese Cultural Center of Danbury prior to the candidates’ first debate Thursday night. Both had bullhorns and were chanting slogans. Greenberg’s contingent included a dog and homemade sign that said, “Bark for Mark,” in homage to Greenberg’s animal shelter charity, the Simon Foundation of Bloomfield. Esty’s supporters were chanting, “We want Esty, she’s our bestie.”
EX-SPOKESMEN: Jeb Fain and Chris Cooper, the men who served as spokesmen for the Esty and Greenberg campaigns two years ago, are not working for the candidates this cycle, but aren’t far removed from the action. Cooper is serving as spokesman for Republican Tom Foley’s campaign against Malloy, while Fain is working for Washington-based Ralston Lapp Media, the consulting firm that is producing Esty’s TV ads. Laura Maloney, a veteran of the 2012 Esty campaign, has taken a leave from serving as Esty’s congressional spokeswoman to handle the same duties for the campaign. Greenberg’s campaign, meanwhile, is operating without a full-time press spokesman. Campaign Manager Bill Evans is handling the role in addition to his other responsibilities.
BABY BOOM: This is Greenberg’s third run for the 5th District seat. He lost primaries in 2010 and 2012 to former state Sens. Sam Caligiuri and Andrew Roraback, respectively. “I’ve been running for five years,” he said at Thursday’s debate, pointing out that he had only three children when he started campaigning and that he has five now. “My wife is hoping I don’t run again.”
TERM LIMITS: Greenberg pledged not to run again if he loses this year. If he wins in November, he pledged to serve no more than two terms. He said that part of the problem with Congress today is that politicians get elected and immediately start working on fundraising to hold on to their seat instead of on solving the country’s difficult problems.
COMPETITIVE: National Journal’s “Hotline” listed “30 House races most likely to change hands” in November. Connecticut’s 5th District didn’t make the list, but was considered competitive enough to be mentioned with eight others as an “honorable mention.”
Author’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly neglected to include that Clinton appeared on Esty’s behalf in 2012.
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, 5th District, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Dan Roberti, dh
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NRA Downgrades Greenberg From ‘A’ to ‘F’ Following Comments During Debate With Esty
CHESHIRE — Republican congressional candidate Mark Greenberg said Friday that the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 led him to his change his position on gun control.
Greenberg’s comments came only hours after the National Rifle Association announced that it had downgraded its rating of Greenberg’s candidacy from “A” to “F.”
The downgrade came after Greenberg, a Litchfield businessman who is challenging first-term incumbent Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty in Connecticut’s 5th District, surprised many Thursday night at the candidates’ first debate by saying he “completely” agreed with Esty’s support of universal background checks for gun purchases and a proposed ban on “straw” gun purchases.
After Esty questioned how the NRA could give him an “A” rating if he believed that, Greenberg joked that the NRA might switch that rating to an “F” after hearing what he had said.
And the NRA wasted no time in doing just that on Friday, blasting Greenberg for apparently making a “false” statement on a 2012 questionnaire in which he said he was opposed to subjecting private gun transactions to background checks.
Greenberg said that the shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown — which is part of the 5th District — led him to change his position on the issue.
“It has changed somewhat. We had Newtown in between,” Greenberg said at a pasta dinner fundraiser for the Cheshire Republican Town Committee on Friday evening. “Reasonable people would look at a circumstance like that and believe that background checks should be required to prevent people with mental illness from obtaining guns.”
Greenberg said he’s not up on all the specifics of background checks on private transactions or family transactions, but in general supports background checks.
“I’m not a scholar on gun matters and I don’t pretend to be,” he said. “But background checks are reasonable.”
The Greenberg campaign found out about the NRA downgrade from a reporter Friday afternoon.
“I’m frankly a little angry that over the course of 18 hours they downgraded me from an A to an F,” Greenberg said. “Isn’t there a B or a C?”
Esty’s campaign on Friday reiterated her skeptical reaction during the debate to Greenberg’s change of heart.
“… Voters should be highly skeptical about any real commitment from him on commonsense reforms to reduce gun violence,” Laura Maloney, Esty’s spokeswoman, said. “During this campaign, Greenberg said he doesn’t believe gun laws should be changed at the federal level.”
Adam Grippo’s jaw dropped when he heard about the NRA downgrade at Friday’s Cheshire fundraiser. Grippo, who chairs the Cheshire Republican Town Committee and is a longtime Greenberg supporter, said that the gun rights issue is one that originally drew him to Greenberg.
“As far as we were concerned, we never questioned his Second Amendment credentials,” Grippo said. “We had always viewed him as a conservative Republican, pro-Second Amendment, vehemently opposed to Obamacare, where other (Republican) candidates had been wishy-washy about it.”
Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, said Friday afternoon that the NRA’s “A” rating was apparently based on the questionnaire he filled out during his unsuccessful previous bid in the 5th District in 2012. Greenberg didn’t fill out a questionnaire from the NRA, or from gun control advocates on the other side of the issue, this year, he said, because he didn’t feel the issue should be politicized.
“Given the sensitivity of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, and Democrats like Sen. (Richard) Blumenthal shamelessly exploiting the tragedy in fundraising emails and press releases, we did not answer any gun related surveys this campaign cycle, on either side of the aisle,” Evans said. “This concern came to fruition last night when the congresswoman tried to use the tragedy to score cheap political points.”
Evans said that Greenberg’s support for gun rights is “very clear.”
Malloy, Deval Patrick Tout Minimum Wage in Hartford
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joined Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at a Jamaican bakery in Hartford Friday to tout minimum wage hikes in both Democrat-led states and rally support ahead of next month’s election.
Malloy a first-term Democrat, is facing a tight rematch against his 2010 Republican rival Tom Foley.
Patrick, also a Democrat, precedes a week of high-profile surrogates coming to Connecticut to stump for Malloy. Both President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton will travel to the state next week for Malloy. Meanwhile, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will appear with Foley next Friday.
Outside Scotts’ Jamaican Bakery, Malloy and Patrick focused on Democratic efforts to raise the minimum wage.
This year, lawmakers and Malloy passed a bill to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017. It followed legislation passed last year, which raised the wage 45 cents to $8.70 in January.
The January raise “was a shot in the arm for working families,” Malloy told a small crowd standing outside the bakery. “No person working in America for 35, 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.”
In June, Patrick signed a bill that will raise Massachusetts’ minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.
“This is not some academic thing,” Patrick said. “This is about what we do and can do and should do to help lift people, or rather, help people lift themselves. It’s a simple, straightforward act of good public policy and human decency.”
Asked about the Hartford event, Foley’s campaign issued a statement saying “Tom supports the minimum wage.” In March, Foley said he supports raising the federal minimum wage and said $10.10 an hour did not sound like an unreasonable rate. Foley said the wage should be multi-tiered. However, he said he did not support raising the state’s rate exclusively.
“I think we need to be careful about having a minimum wage in Connecticut that’s higher than other states because that drives jobs out of the state. That’s why I support a national minimum wage,” he said.
On Friday, Malloy said it was unreasonable to think Congress would pass legislation to raise the federal minimum wage, leaving the change up to individual states to enact.
While he was there, Malloy also praised the Hartford bakery known for its meat pies and dropped a not-so-subtle hint the owners were free to name a meat pie after him.
“Scotts’ Jamaican Bakery is a very important place in Hartford. I want to thank you for having us. I don’t know whether you ever named a meat pie after somebody but, you know, I’m just, you know—maybe something with corned beef in it or something like that,” he said.
Tags: Malloy, deval patrick, minimum wage, foley
Foley Accepts Wyman’s Travel Offer
In a deadpan Friday morning press release, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley accepted a “gracious” offer from Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to buy him a one-way ticket out of town.
In comments reported by People’s World, Wyman, the lieutenant governor and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s running mate, offered to buy Foley a ticket to Wisconsin.
“If Tom Foley wants to see a ‘Wisconsin moment,’ I’ll pay for a one-way ticket for Tom Foley to go to Wisconsin,” said Wyman. “We need our unions in this state. We need our workers in this state. And we’re going to protect them.”
The comment was a jab at Foley’s relationship with state labor unions. Labor advocates have taken the Wisconsin quote, made by Foley to the Hartford Courant, as a desire to see collective bargaining rights scaled back as they were in Wisconsin after Gov. Scott Walker was elected.
But in a press release, Foley ignored all that and took Wyman’s offer at face value. He said he would be happy to visit Wisconsin.
“It was very gracious of Lieutenant Governor Wyman to offer to pay my way out to Wisconsin. My mother was from Madison, Wisconsin where I spent a lot of time as a young boy. I still have uncles, aunts, and cousins there who I would like to visit as Governor-Elect. So I accept her thoughtful offer. She can either send it to me or let me know when it is ready and I will pick it up at her office,” Foley said.
During a campaign stop Friday with Malloy and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Wyman said the offer still stood but said Foley would have to get used to riding coach.
“I’d be glad to do that. I don’t think he’s going to get used to sitting in coach because I can’t afford anything more. I know it’s not a jet or anything but I’d be willing to send him that ticket anytime,” she said, referencing a 1962 British fighter jet owned by Foley.
Tags: Tom Foley, Nancy Wyman, bus tour, middle class, Wisconsin, dh
Heating Oil Dealers Sue DEEP, PURA
A trade association for more than 600 heating oil dealers filed a lawsuit against the state Friday, alleging it violated environmental laws when it approved a 900-mile expansion of natural gas lines without an environmental study.
The lawsuit filed by the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association against the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority accuses the state of failing to do an Environmental Impact Evaluation before approving the expansion project.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection called the lawsuit “groundless and based on inaccurate information.” There was never anything in the regulations that required an environmental study.
The heating oil dealers believe that like other projects this one should gauge whether the construction and operation of the pipelines or mains, such as the clearing of trees, would result in temporary or permanent alteration of wildlife habitat and whether any of the work will create temporary or permanent air or noise quality impacts, such as emissions from equipment installing pipelines or mains or the emission of criteria air pollutants from compressor stations.
“They are going to build them in your streets. They are going to build them across your front yards and no one has considered what impact that will have on the environment and your home,” Chris Herb, president of CEMA, said. “We are calling to halt this plan immediately until we know exactly what harm it might do.”
But Dennis Schain, a DEEP spokesman, said, “The lawsuit is simply another in a series of steps by the heating oil dealers aimed at protecting their lock on the market and preventing Connecticut homeowners and businesses from having a choice to select a cheaper and cleaner fuel.”
Herb said that’s absolutely not the case.
“This lawsuit is about making the utilities follow the rules like every other industry in the state of Connecticut needs to do,” Herb said. “This has nothing to do with trying to stop the project. All we are saying is that the utilities need to follow the law and take into consideration the impact this massive plan will have on the environment and our homes.”
There are currently approximately 415,000 natural gas customers in Connecticut and the plan calls for natural gas to be made available to 300,000 additional customers.
Tags: CEMA, DEEP, PURA, natural gas lines, heating oil dealers, dh
New Laws Crack Down On Robocalls
Two new state laws have significantly increased the fines that individuals and companies face if they send consumers unsolicited text messages or bother them with “robocalls.”
The pieces of legislation are among the slew of bills that were passed earlier this year and became law Oct. 1.
One, introduced by the General Law and Judiciary committees, broadens the scope of state laws regulating telemarketers. It makes it illegal for telephone marketers to make unsolicited sales calls -including sending text messages and other media messages – to consumers who have signed up to be on the Do Not Call Registry unless those consumers give “express written consent.”
In the digital age, when more and more communication is done via texting, a growing number of companies are using text messages for marketing. Standard practice, however, is for businesses to get an explicit opt-in from consumers before contacting them in that manner.
In the past, such solicitors were allowed to send text messages to consumers who had given written or verbal consent, but verbal permission is no longer allowed under the new law. All unsolicited text or media messages (such as audio, video or photographs) are prohibited.
Along the same lines, the bill also increases the fines violators will face for breaking the long-standing Do Not Call law. The maximum fine for each violation of the Do Not Call Registry has swelled from the previous maximum of $11,000 to a new limit of $20,000. Calling people who are on the Do Not Call Registry constitutes “an unfair and deceptive trade practice” under state law.
On a national level, the Do Not Call law is regulated by the Federal Communication Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. In Connecticut, it also is regulated and enforced by the state Department of Consumer Protection.
There are some notable exceptions to the Do Not Call Registry. Political campaigners, for instance, who are busy this time of year as Election Day approaches, are not governed by Do Not Call law so the new state law won’t affect them.
Also, the Do Not Call law applies only to residential phone lines, not those belonging to businesses.
Other exemptions are: businesses calling about an existing debt, contract or payment; businesses that started within the last year; tax-exempt or nonprofit entities; prerecorded messages or emergency calls needed for health and safety; places that consumers have given prior consent; and businesses with which consumers have a pre-existing relationship.
The new state law also prohibits telemarketers from making robocalls, which are unsolicited, recorded sales calls that are automatically dialed. Such calls typically continue even after the recipient has hung up the phone.
With these changes, legislators want consumers to know their rights. The new law mandates that every telephone and telecommunications company provide a “conspicuous” notice to its customers at least twice a year on or with their billing statement. The notice must let the customers know which telemarketing actions are illegal, how to get their number on the Do Not Call Registry and how to get a registry complaint form from the state Department of Consumer Protection’s website.
Telecommunications companies still are allowed to send a text or media message to an existing customer – as long as it is at no cost to the customer - in several instances, under the bill. Valid reasons for doing so are: a debt that has not yet been paid, an existing contract between the company and the customer, a wireless emergency alert authorized by federal law, or a request for customer service that has been initiated by the customer.
Another related law that took effect Oct. 1, introduced by the General Law Committee, increases the maximum fine that faces anyone who makes robocalls. The maximum fine has doubled, from $500 to $1,000.
OP-ED | Connecticut’s Disappearing Middle Class
This is one of the best times of year to walk through one of Connecticut’s pretty little towns, with the lingering smell of damp leaves and fair-trade coffee hanging in the chilled air.
There is so much beauty in this state, so many communities that still hold their New England charm. But it is amazing how fast you can go from charming to blighted, from rich to poor, in just a few short miles. We are all crowded so close together in this densely populated state, yet we are also so segregated.
Poverty is on the rise in Connecticut. One in eight Connecticut residents is now using food stamps, and we are one of only six states in the nation where food stamp usage went up this past year.
So we know more people in the state are poor, and we know our rich are still rich, but what about the middle class?
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman is apparently visiting them on her “Put the Middle Class First” bus tour. She’ll have to let us know, when she finds them, whether they’re as excited as she is about all of the policies Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature passed these past three-and-a-half years.
We already know the 2011 tax hikes, which came at the tail end of a brutal recession, have done nothing to help the middle class. And the minimum wage increase she and Malloy helped pass is unlikely to help anyone move into the middle class.
More likely, the increase will help them out of a job, or will give them just enough to pay the higher prices we will all see on our groceries, movie tickets and fast food.
It isn’t just Malloy and Wyman who gave our middle class residents a reason to leave the state — they’ve been fleeing for decades under Democrats and Republicans alike.
When you follow the money on the Tax Foundation’s migration tool, which uses IRS data, you see that Connecticut lost (net) 193,487 people and their accompanying $8.7 billion in income between the years of 1993 and 2010. (The site only offers data from 1993 to 2010). But it also says the average income of the people who left was $67,704.
It looks like our middle class residents are packing up for warmer climates. Our biggest loss in the 17-year period from 1993 to 2010 was to Florida, which likely welcomed the 98,471 Nutmeggers and their $5.7 billion in income with open, well-tanned, arms.
However, it’s worth noting that the Tax Foundation’s numbers don’t include births or foreign in-migration, which is why we have a net loss to other states while we still see a slight increase in overall population. Connecticut’s population grew from 1990 to 2010 at a rate of about 0.5 percent a year. The Census Bureau reports that Connecticut’s population grew by just 0.6 percent from 2010 to 2013.
Regardless, it isn’t just the state’s high taxes and cost of living that are putting pressure on the middle class. That just makes it worse. Incomes have stagnated for the middle class not just in Connecticut, but globally.
The tech revolution and globalization have combined to make the United States and other wealthy Western economies look a lot more like the developing world, with a widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Wyman tried to blame Republicans for trying to “pool all our resources at the top with the millionaires and big corporations,” which is ironic given her administration’s handouts to some wealthy businessmen. Again, Democrats and Republicans alike often redistribute wealth upward, which is a gross misuse of our tax dollars.
Wyman, and other Democrats, want to keep riding the income inequality bandwagon, as though what they’re doing is getting rid of poverty everywhere and reinvigorating the middle class.
The problem is, the outcomes of their policies don’t bear that out.
Connecticut is one of the bluest, most progressive states in the nation. It’s gotten more liberal for years, under a Democratic-controlled legislature and Republican and Democratic governors. And we see the fruits — highest debt per capita, growing poverty, a widening income gap, and a fleeing middle class.
Instead of focusing on a social safety net, now we’re building a lasting infrastructure to maintain people in poverty for decades. But the nagging question is what parts of the social safety net will we be able to keep when our debts start catching up with us.
Enough already. Let’s start talking about opportunity instead of inequality. Let’s start talking about how to make the pie bigger for everybody instead of talking about how to slice it up.
Suzanne Bates is the policy director for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. She lives in South Windsor with her family. Follow her on Twitter @suzebates.
Tags: Nancy Wyman, Dan Malloy, middle class, Suzanne Bates, dh
OP-ED | A Race In Which Nobody Wins
If the last couple of polls are to be believed, Tom Foley has royally squandered a gift of an election, handing his lead back to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. This happened for two reasons: first, Tom Foley is a lousy candidate, and second, Dan Malloy is very good at attacking his opponent.
None of these are particularly inspiring reasons. Such is political life in 2014.
Let’s take a look at these polls, first. The most recent Quinnipiac poll and a September YouGov poll both show the race tied, while a survey from Public Policy Polling gave Malloy an eight point lead. This is a stark contrast to the past few months of polling, which mostly painted a pretty dismal picture for Malloy.
Weirdly, Foley now claims that he wasn’t in the lead after all, but that the race was always tied. This is nonsense. Three of the five polls conducted before October showed Foley with a lead, while the other two showed a tie. The two polls showing a tie were in March and September, while the polls showing a lead fell between. Polling has been thin for this race, but there’s enough evidence to suggest that Foley did in fact have a lead during the summer, and he blew it.
What’s actually going on here is that the Malloy campaign has finally gotten itself into gear and has released a blizzard of ads reminding voters of why they disliked Foley enough to not bother electing him back in 2010. A feisty, combative debate performance by Malloy helped, of course, but really what we’re seeing is the outcome of the only effective strategy anyone can muster for this election: make everyone believe the other guy is so loathsome that a cockroach would make a better governor.
This strategy is the Foley campaign’s bread and butter. They and their various allied PACs have been attacking Malloy nonstop for the better part of a year, but now they’re on the receiving end. They have done a lousy job of fighting back, which is why Malloy is now trending up while Foley is trending down.
The other guy who is trending upward is Joe Visconti, the independent candidate, who is at 9 percent. Visconti seems to be drawing better from Democrats and independents than Republicans, which at first seems a little odd. Do 9 percent of Democrats really agree with Visconti’s decidedly pro-gun views?
Nah. They just don’t want to vote for any of the two on the top line. Can you blame them?
The thing about negative campaigning is that it works — that’s why everybody does it. It gets the party faithful up off the couch and to the polls, especially in years when their own candidates are less than inspiring. It also, as is clear, moves the polls. President Barack Obama was able to defeat Mitt Romney in part by painting a negative picture of him. Malloy is hoping to do the same to Foley, who, like Romney, is an awkward businessman who has a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth.
But what happens when a candidate wins an election based almost entirely on negative campaigning? How much political capital does someone really have if they are elected because of how much they made people fear their opponent? And what happens when someone deeply damaged by negative attacks gets into office? This, in part, is why Dan Malloy has never been a popular governor — not even during the beginning of his term. If Foley should manage to win, he’ll find the same is true for him.
The problem is that negative ads and negative campaign speeches last only a moment in voters’ minds, but they do remember the larger narratives. They also reinforce the political biases of partisans by turning the opposition into dangerous Others. This kind of attack makes compromise much harder once the election is over, and contributes to polarization. The disastrous results of this are already apparent at the national level.
Part of what fuels the over-reliance on negative campaigning is the nominating process, while another, more pernicious part is the huge amounts of unregulated money that PACs use to make attack ads. The end result of all that energy, time, and money will be that we get to choose between bad and worse, and everyone loses just a bit more faith in our political process.
In the meantime, thanks to the tightening of the race, Connecticut voters should brace themselves for three more weeks of attacks.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
OP-ED | In The Battle For Governor, Personality Matters
For armchair political analysts such as yours truly, this year’s gubernatorial race between incumbent Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley has been a treasure trove of material.
It has been a steaming stew of personality and policy — though far more of the former than the latter. Perhaps that mix, along with enemies made by the candidates over the years, explains the current nastiness of the campaign.
Let’s start with the enemies. Ken Dixon of Hearst Connecticut Newspapers did a terrific job last week of cataloguing Malloy’s brashness, missteps and — some would say — arrogance of his first couple of years.
The former prosecutor and 14-year mayor of Stamford got off on the wrong foot almost immediately. Just after he was elected in 2010 but before he took office, Malloy took the short walk from the Capitol to the Legislative Office Building. He wanted to pay a surprise visit to the House Republicans — a great idea for an incoming Democratic governor who was looking to reach across the aisle and build relationships even before he had proposed a single piece of legislation.
As Malloy strolled along the walkway between the two buildings, Capitol Police officers saluted him and Malloy reciprocated. But he quickly tired of the routine and soon failed to return the officers’ gestures of respect and protocol. As the old saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Couple that with Malloy’s display of brinkmanship in a labor stand-off with the State Police the following year, and you have a recipe for mistrust and dysfunction among law enforcement officials.
Then there was the now-legendary remark Malloy made about teachers in 2012 (“show up for four years and tenure is yours”). The comment provoked howls of outrage among teachers, many of whom said they would never vote for Malloy again, though their two major unions did half-heartedly endorse him recently.
How interesting it was in his interview with Dixon that former Malloy henchman Roy Occhiogrosso blamed himself on the tenure flap, claiming to have authored the offending line. Occhiogrosso, who subsequently left for a lucrative gig in private consulting, has since returned as a top strategist to Malloy’s re-election effort.
“It was totally my fault,” Occhiogrosso told Dixon. “I think about it all the time.”
Think about this. If you’re a governor who had hired a tart-tongued consultant who had drafted a speech that might cost you a re-election bid, would you bring him back in a senior campaign role? Did Occhiogrosso really believe what he wrote or did he just think it was a tactical error? He did not say. No, it looks more and more like Malloyalist Occhiogrosso simply fell on his sword and took one for the team in the hope that the offended teachers would let his boss off the hook.
Then Malloy fell on his own sword, sort of. “I have had to overcome some challenges and maybe that gives rise to a prickly personality, I don’t know,” Malloy told reporters last week after his aggressive performance in a debate with Foley.
Sounds like Malloy came perilously close to blaming his childhood struggles with learning disabilities for his cantankerous personality. Did those struggles some 40 years ago also cause him to hire advisers who insert language into a speech that alienated 40,000 public school teachers? He did not say.
While it does seem trivial to spend time discussing the personalities of candidates for office at the expense of taking a hard look at policy, it is also true that personality can either help public officials realize their policy goals, or wreck them. I’m convinced that Malloy’s personality and choice of words are the major factors that have made this election as close as it is. Blue-state Connecticut is making slow but steady progress recovering from the economic mess Malloy inherited, but swing voters are giving the governor little credit for it.
During last week’s debate with Foley, Malloy sought to further deflect attention away from his personality: “They may have disagreements with me,” Malloy said of his detractors and even his some of his erstwhile supporters. “They may not agree with the policies that I’ve implemented, but they understand that I work really, really hard, sometimes, perhaps, too hard and sometimes perhaps I take the work too seriously.”
That’s a politician’s non-answer when asked what his greatest fault is:
“Well, sometimes I work too hard for the people of Connecticut. And I take all that work I am doing for the people of this great state too seriously.”
With faults like that, who needs attributes?
Tags: Dannel Malloy, Tom Foley, ken dixon, Roy Occhiogrosso, 2014 governor's race, terry cowgill, dh
Compassion & Choices Draws Full House at Real Art Ways for Panel Discussion, Film
Although legislation that would allow mentally competent, terminally ill patients to medically end their lives did not make it through the legislative session this year, supporters are already gearing up for Connecticut’s 2015 legislative session.
Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization that counsels people on ways they can control when and how they die if they wish, held a forum Thursday to educate people about, and gain support for, the controversial issue.
Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee said the goal of the evening was to energize people to become activists for right-to-die legislation.
“Too many people suffer needlessly, die prolonged deaths,” Coombs Lee said “People can have peace of mind when they have control and choices.”
Unlike in Oregon and Washington, where such laws have been passed by referendum, right-to-die legislation would not be decided at the polls in Connecticut, Coombs Lee said. It is decided at the legislative level, so it is important for supporters to not only call their legislators and urge them to vote in its favor, but to get friends in other districts to do so, too.
The bulk of the evening was taken up by a panel in which advocates and elected officials spoke about why they believe right-to-die legislation is necessary to a packed auditorium at Real Art Ways in Hartford.
Prior to the panel, attendees saw a short video featuring Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient who described why she is choosing to end her life through medicine. Maynard this week became the face of the right-to-die movement, and the video has been viewed more than 5 million times since it was posted Oct. 6.
The panel was followed by a viewing of “How to Die in Oregon,” a documentary that looks first-hand at the right-to-die resources provided in that state. The film has won a number of awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries at the 27th Sundance Film Festival.
Legislation that would allow a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to mentally competent, terminally-ill patients failed to pass the Connecticut General Assembly’s Public Health Committee this year, but it’s likely to be raised again in a few months.
The Connecticut legislation would have been similar to the laws passed in Oregon and Washington, which allow a terminally ill person with a diagnosis of less than six months to live, and who is deemed mentally and psychologically competent, to get a prescription that could be self-administered for a humane and dignified death.
Coombs Lee said the Connecticut bill would be “substantially identical” to the Oregon bill. They would first have to be deemed mentally competent and terminally ill, with statements regarding their prognosis and diagnosis from two different doctors. They would then need to fill out forms stating their wishes and that they are not being coerced into doing so. The forms would have to be signed by two different witnesses, one of whom could not be a relative, an heir, or the patient’s doctor.
She said the bill would not cover children under the age of 18, and does not see the legislation in Oregon ever changing to do so, either.
Panelist Gary Holder-Winfield, a Democratic state Senator from New Haven, said many people who do support the legislation would not do so if it included children.
Coombs Lee also said the legislation would exclude people with dementia and cognitive declines, since they could not make the choice for themselves.
“It is an issue for another day but is no less compelling,” she said.
Coombs Lee said people who do receive the prescription actually tend to live longer because they feel they are in control of their situation, which improves their courage and endurance. It also prevents them from acting impulsively, such as shooting themselves or leaping to their deaths.
“The terrible burden and anxiety are lifted,” she said.
She also said 35 to 50 percent of people who do get the medication do not end up taking it, and die naturally.
Coombs Lee said the scientific data from studying the results of the Oregon law since it was enacted in 1997 back that up.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted this year, 61 percent of the public support the concept.
Tim Appleton, the Compassion & Choices Connecticut Campaign Manager, said prior to the panel the nearly two-to-one favorable support shows the momentum for such a law is building, and that people in every district in the state support it.
He hopes the legislation will be revisited again when the next session begins in January, and they would campaign vigorously for the law throughout the entire session.
The proposed legislation has some support at the state level. Holder-Winfield, who spoke with some emotion during the discussion, said he became a strong advocate for the bill after watching his mother suffer for 3½ years before she died.
“I’ve never been opposed to it, but after experiencing what she experienced, I don’t know how I could hold a different opinion,” he said.
However, Coombs Lee said, many elected officials’ natural reaction to such a bill is to run, since no one gets punished for backing away. Usually, an elected official who supports such legislation also supports a number of other positions favorable with their constituents, and will get support for those.
Right-to-die opponents, however, are single-issue opponents, she said. Only about 20 percent of those polled opposed right-to-die legislation, but they are a vocal minority, “a minority politicians fear.”
Some of that vocal opposition has come from the Family Institute of Connecticut, whose executive director, Peter Wolfgang, said Thursday that it is nothing more than a campaign to legalize assisted suicide.
The distinction between assisted suicide and aid in dying is not recognized in Connecticut law, he said, saying the state courts explicitly stated in 2010 that the manslaughter law includes self-killing for terminal illness.
“The distinction only exists in proponents minds,” he said. “It is not recognized by medical or legal communities.”
Wolfgang, who was not able to attend the panel, said the legislation has been defeated two years in a row and he expects to fight it again next year. He also expects to be joined by allies from a wide spectrum, such as advocates against elderly abuse and people with disabilities. Many of those groups, he said, are usually more politically to the left than the Family Institute, but are “all united in the understanding that assisted suicide is bad public policy that puts vulnerable populations at risk.”
Wolfgang stressed that nobody in his organization supports keeping patients alive by extraordinary means against their will, but they also don’t support “assisting in suicide and granting immunity from taking someone’s life.”
Holder-Winfield said the term “assisted suicide” is used to make people uncomfortable discussing the topic, and is not an accurate way to describe the legislation.
Coombs Lee said suicide, which she does not support, is cutting short a life someone has yet to live. Someone like Maynard, who loves life, Coombs Lee said, would not want to end her life early.
“We want to cut short unbearable suffering,” Coombs Lee said. Phrasing and language is important because of the need to educate potential allies.
Assisted suicide sounds like helping someone mentally incompetent end their life, said panelist Bethany Bowen Brookmyer, a policy analyst for the Connecticut Association of Human. People and politicians need to be educated and made aware of what it means not just to the ill, but to their families and loved ones.
Several members of the public also spoke in favor of right-to-die legislation. Suzanne Duclos, a registered nurse, said she became very passionate about the bill when she first heard about it. She said when she posted about it on Facebook she received 356 replies, only 20 percent of which were negative.
Tags: Compassion & Choices, How to Die in Oregon, panel, Barbara Coombs Lee, Gary Holder-Winfield, Bethany Bowen Brookmyer, family institute, Peter Wolfgang, dh
Fourth Debate Keeps With Negative Tone
Between personal attacks and accusations of lying, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley sparred over the mental health response to the Newtown shooting and changes to Connecticut’s liquor laws during a Thursday debate.
The fourth debate between Foley and Malloy was sponsored by the Connecticut Broadcasters Association and held at the Hartford Hilton in front of a small audience. Moderator Colin McEnroe, a radio show host on WNPR, opened the event with a joke about candidates running positive, issue-based campaigns. Unfortunately, he said those candidates were running in Montana.
And it wasn’t long before Connecticut’s candidates were back on the attack.
“Governor Malloy can’t seem to distinguish between what he wants to be true and what is actually true,” Foley said about six minutes into the debate, in response to a question on unfunded pension liabilities. “. . . Governor Malloy was recently named worst governor in the United States of America by a prominent national journal.”
Malloy waited until Foley brought up the article a second time, to call it’s publisher, the National Review, a “right-wing, tea bag organization.”
“You know it, I let you repeat the story twice. Why don’t you tell the whole story when you tell stories?” Malloy said.
On a question about the negativity of the race, Foley accused Malloy of “cheapening the debate” and “insulting voters.” He suggested Malloy sign a “truce” he brought with him. Malloy didn’t bite.
“You have spent two years attacking my integrity and my truthfulness and now because we’re pushing back a little bit, you’re the bully in the play yard who wants to call a peace now because finally someone’s answering what you’ve said for years about me,” he said.
Malloy and Foley took questions on a few topics that had not been raised in the previous three debates. For instance, they were asked whether they would back more changes to the state’s alcohol laws.
Malloy, who signed a bill in 2012 that scrapped Connecticut’s long-standing Sunday alcohol sales prohibition, said he would continue to try to “modernize” state liquor laws. He added that he would work with package store owners and the alcohol industry on the issue.
“I’ve pledged to work with them, but I’ve got to tell you, people are pretty darn happy they can buy liquor on a Sunday,” Malloy said.
Foley said Malloy had “a short memory” and recalled the governor’s battle with package store owners over changes he proposed to state alcohol laws. Foley said he would side with the package stores and reject further changes.
“This governor tried to change those laws, which would have driven those people out of business,” he said. “I will support certainty and the understanding that we’re not going to willy-nilly go out and change laws that affect people who’ve made investments, in some cases over several generations, in businesses.”
Malloy said he would “side with the consumer.”
“We shouldn’t be paying $7 more for a half gallon of spirits in Connecticut than they are in Massachusetts. And before Tom says it, it has nothing to do with taxes,” he said.
Every debate so far has touched on the gun law passed in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Thursday’s debate covered much of the same territory, but Malloy and Foley engaged in a back-and-forth over the availability of mental health services for Adam Lanza, the shooter.
Foley said the bill did not address Lanza’s mental health issues.
“Sometimes I can’t believe the things you say, Tom,” Malloy responded. “The young man, who used these unbelievable weapons that could get hundreds of bullets off in a few moments, had all the access he ever needed to mental health. His parents were wealthy. They had great insurance plans. There was nothing in his background that would have prevented him from getting any treatment that they or he would have wanted.”
Malloy said the problem stemmed from the shooter’s access to an “arsenal of weapons” owned by his mother. He said the gun restrictions in the 2013 law made sense and have had an impact.
Foley disagreed, saying the shooter’s mother was trying to get her son into a long-term care facility she did not have access to. He said he has had mental health problems in his own family.
“I know from my personal experience. I think it’s rather insulting for you to say as the governor of this state, when I know it isn’t true, that families have access to the mental health support they need,” he said. “You’re grandstanding and you know nothing about what you’re talking about.”
Malloy defended his administration’s work to expand access to healthcare, including the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“Don’t showboat this, Tom. You have your beliefs and I have mine. I will never, ever, ever repeal the gun law. Tom will,” he said.
The candidates’ negative tone was felt in most every question. When McEnroe asked about the candidates’ personal faith, they used it as an opportunity to critique each other.
Malloy answered that he was raised Catholic and believed in the “goodness of men and women.” He quickly pivoted to Foley’s reaction to an executive order he had issued to prepare the state for the risk of the Ebola virus. He said Foley laughed about it.
“If that’s Tom’s management style, if that’s how he would prepare for a crisis which is literally on our doorstep, then you don’t want him to be the person you have as governor,” he said.
Meanwhile, Foley seemed to use the opportunity to question Malloy’s parenting. After last week’s contentious debate, blogger Kevin Rennie questioned whether Foley would bring up the legal troubles of Malloy’s son.
“I think it would be interesting to ask these candidates. How do you feel about parenting? How have you done as a parent?” Foley said. “I think that would give voters tremendous insight.”
The comments came in response to the debate’s last question and there was not adequate time for Malloy to rebut Foley’s answer. After the debate, Foley said he was not familiar with Malloy’s family life.
“I don’t know. I don’t know that much about his family,” he said.
Esty, Greenberg Spar Over Rowland, Negative Attacks And Immigration
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty hit Republican challenger Mark Greenberg over his handling of a corruption scandal involving former Gov. John Rowland Thursday night in the first debate of the 2014 race for Connecticut’s 5th District congressional seat.
“I’m not trying to be negative, but character matters,” Esty said in response to a question about how she was ensuring her campaign would be positive.
Greenberg testified in a federal trial earlier this fall that led to Rowland’s conviction on seven campaign finance and corruption charges. He said he turned down Rowland’s scheme to work for his campaign through a secret payment arrangement through Greenberg’s animal shelter.
Esty said there are unanswered questions about Greenberg’s handling of the situation, and criticized him for describing himself as “gutless” in not wanting to immediately reject Rowland’s plan outright. He was “unwilling to turn down a politically corrupt offer,” she said.
Greenberg responded with criticism of the negative tone of Esty’s re-election campaign. He cited a Hartford Courant story calling an attack ad she ran regarding his views Social Security as “misleading” and “false.”
The exchange occurred as Esty and Greenberg met for the first time in a debate sponsored by the News-Times of Danbury and the League of Women Voters at the Portuguese Cultural Center in Danbury.
Strong differences emerged in the candidates’ approach to immigration and foreign policy.
Esty cited her co-sponsorship of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would provide an “earned path to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
She said it was the “number one” thing Congress could do right now to spur economic development and job growth.
Greenberg said the country first must “secure its borders” and then streamline the process for immigrants who are going through the proper, legal process to gain entry to the country. He said only then should the country do something to assist undocumented immigrants who entered the country improperly.
He said the country should be concerned about “diseases” and terrorists entering the country due to its “unsecure borders.”
Greenberg criticized Esty’s approach on foreign policy, including her vote against arming moderate Syrians in an effort to combat the ISIS terrorist group.
“Two years ago I was on a radio interview and I warned of these people . . . radical, fundamentalists . . . who are out to kill us,” he said, referring to a 2012 WNPR interview in which he described Islam as “cult-like” and “not as peaceful a religion” as Judaism or Christianity. “I warned about that, and I was ridiculed for warning about that.”
Greenberg said that the problem in Iraq and Syria is the fault of President Obama and congressional Democrats.
Esty said she supports the president’s approach on airstrikes. Greenberg said that doesn’t go far enough.
“We have to look at this as essentially an attack, an eventual attack, on this country,” he said. “We need to make sure that we try to prevent it in advance.”
Greenberg, a father of five who is “unapologetically pro-life,” raised eyebrows with a comment that seemed to indicate radical Islamic terrorists had an advantage over the United States because they have more children.
“We are in this country reproducing at a rate of 1.6 per couple,” he said. “We need 2.2, 2.3 to sustain. Some of those folks who are out to kill us are reproducing at a rate of 5 or 6 to 1.”
On gun control, Greenberg agreed “completely” with Esty after she called for universal background checks for gun purchases, closing loopholes for gun shows and online purchases and banning “straw purchases” of guns.
“This must come as a surprise to the NRA, which has given him an A rating,” Esty said, suggesting that no member of Congress who supported such measures would get those kinds of marks from the NRA.
Greenberg elicited laughter by saying that he didn’t even fill out the NRA’s questionnaire and was surprised himself that he got an A rating. “Maybe it will switch to F after tonight,” he said.
The NRA’s website, however, says its rating of Greenberg was based “solely on the candidate’s responses” to the organization’s questionnaire.
The candidates also tangled over Social Security. Greenberg criticized an Esty TV ad — the one the Courant labeled as “false” — for suggesting that he wanted to dismantle Social Security or take benefits away from those who are on it.
“I believe in Social Security benefits for all seniors. I believe the system should give back to the people who put in,” he said.
Greenberg said he supports increasing the retirement age from 67 to 70 so that the system won’t become “insolvent.” His plan would not affect anyone currently over the age of 52.
“I believe we should have a discussion about it. It is . . . clear that if we do nothing about it, this system will fail,” he said. “Let’s have a discussion about it. Let’s not bury our heads in the sand. Let’s not kick it down the road.”
Esty opposes raising the retirement age, and instead would look at increasing the cap on income from which Social Security is deducted. Greenberg called that a “tax increase” and defended his plan.
“We live a lot longer. We’re productive a lot longer. We work a lot longer,” he said. “Why is it wrong to raise the retirement age from 67 to 70 and ask younger people, younger people only, to work a little bit longer to make sure that the system remains solvent?”
Thursday’s debate was recorded for later broadcast on Connecticut Network.
Esty and Greenberg will meet for at least one more debate, sponsored by the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, at noon Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.
Foley Says He Was Never Up 6 Points
Republican Tom Foley told a radio talk show host Wednesday afternoon that he was never ahead of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a Quinnipiac University poll last month.
Foley told WTIC 1080 AM host Will Marotti, during Marotti’s last broadcast, that Quinnipiac University got their numbers wrong in the Sept. 10 poll and the poll released Wednesday by the university that showed the race was a dead heat was more accurate.
“Quinnipiac made a mistake in their poll on September 10th,” Foley said during the broadcast. “They had the — they inverted the independents and the Dems on the turnout model, and when you take the September information and you put it in the turnout model that they used this morning, we were one up. So it’s gone from one up to even.”
The Sept. 10 poll showed Foley ahead of Malloy by 6 percentage points. The poll released Wednesday showed Malloy and Foley in a dead heat.
Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said Thursday that he has no idea what Foley was talking about, and asserted that all the numbers in the Sept. 10 poll were accurate.
As for Foley’s accusation that the polling institute switched the unaffiliated voter numbers with the Democratic voter numbers in the “turnout model,” Schwartz said: “That’s just not true. All the numbers were accurate.”
He explained that Quinnipiac doesn’t use a “turnout model,” which guesses what types of voters will head to the polls on Election Day.
Schwartz said he understands some campaigns use turnout models in their internal polling, but it’s not something Quinnipiac has ever done as part of their “likely voter” identification model. According to the Sept. 10 poll, 26 percent of the respondents were Republicans, 31 percent Democrats and 38 percent were unaffiliated.
The poll released Wednesday, Oct. 8, had similar “likely voter” demographics. Twenty-six percent of the respondents were Republicans, 34 percent were Democrats, and 35 percent were unaffiliated.
Like previous polls, Quinnipiac asks the voters if they consider themselves “a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?” The call center representative records the answer and the poll is weighted accordingly.
The October poll shows slightly more Democrats were surveyed, but none of the numbers in the September poll were transposed, Schwartz said.
Of the registered voters in the state, 38 percent are Democrats, 20 percent are Republicans, and 44 percent are unaffiliated.
Tags: Quinnipiac University, Tom Foley, Douglas Schwartz, dh
Two Years After Bitter Primary, Esty Works To Unify 5th District Democrats
Elizabeth Esty’s path to Congress went through one of the nastiest and most expensive Democratic primaries Connecticut has ever seen. Two years later, as she seeks a second term representing the state’s 5th District, supporters say she’s made significant progress in unifying party activists behind her.
On Sunday, Dan Roberti, one of her opponents in that 2012 primary, will hold a fundraiser for Esty at his home in Kent. It wasn’t all that long ago that Roberti was running attack ads saying Esty “took money from polluters her husband regulates,” while Esty was telling voters that “Washington’s a mess and Dan Roberti would make it worse.”
“Day one, not even day one, the evening, the moment the election was over, I was more than happy to support her,” Roberti said. “Over the last two years, I’ve gotten to know her even better and see the great job she’s doing . . . I’ve been in contact with her since, nonstop.”
The support from Roberti and others who opposed Esty in the primary two years ago comes even as she’s solidified the sometimes-conservative departures she takes from the Democratic Party establishment. She is involved in “No Labels,” a coalition of moderate politicians from both parties. She sided with right-wing Congressional Republicans in voting to modify some aspects of Obamacare, and sided with them again in supporting an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of conservative nonprofit organizations.
While Esty’s other opponent in the 2012 primary, former Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan, has not been as visible in supporting her, many of the people in his progressive wing of state politics have gotten behind her. Esty easily picked up the endorsement of the Working Families Party this cycle, for example, after speculation two years ago that it might back the defeated Donovan, if he was willing, as a third-party general election candidate.
“It was a very, ugly, terrible primary she found herself in two years ago,” said Audrey Blondin, a Litchfield attorney and Democratic State Committee member. “It wasn’t pretty.”
Blondin said that she considered running in the 2012 primary herself, but passed when she realized how strong Donovan’s support was among activists even in her home base in Litchfield County. “I looked at it and walked away,” she said.
Esty entered the race without Donovan’s connections, her only experience being a term as a state representative and a local official in Cheshire.
“That’s a big leap,” Blondin said. “It was 100 percent uphill.”
She said Esty has won over local Democrats in part by learning how to be a politician, “in the good sense of the word,” helping constituents with problems and advocating for very specific local projects and initiatives.
“I think she’s connecting a lot more with the district . . . She’s kind of weathered it all,” Blondin said.
One reason cited by Democrats who were wary of Esty two years ago is the sharp difference on social issues between her and her opponent this year, Litchfield businessman Mark Greenberg. The Republican 2012 nominee, former state Sen. Andrew Roraback, favored abortion rights and gay marriage and took moderate positions on issues such as gun control. Greenberg is “unapologetically pro-life,” against gay marriage, and has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.
“Newtown is too close. It’s too painful. You can’t have this stand of 100 percent don’t take my guns,” Blondin said. “Do you really need 30 rounds of assault bullets, this crazy stuff that these people advocate?”
Greenberg’s supporters have said that providing voters in the 5th District with a “clearer choice” is better than a 2012 Esty-Roraback matchup in which the two candidates agreed on a number of issues.
“The difference this time is you can tell them apart clearly,” said Ken Nowell, a Torrington accountant and longtime Greenberg supporter. “It’s a clear opportunity for the state to decide what direction it wants to go in.”
Roberti, who at one point led in the polls despite being only 29 years old and having no political background, was extremely successful in fundraising during the 2012 primary. That was in large part due to the connections of his father, former Connecticut legislator-turned-Washington lobbyist Vin Roberti.
He’s been wanting to do a fundraiser for Esty in part based on concerns about the personal resources that Greenberg, who has spent several million dollars of his own money on past campaigns, is able to put into the race.
“We need to make sure she’s got both the on-the-ground support and the financial support to compete with a self-funder,” Roberti said.
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, Dan Roberti, Chris Donovan, Working Families Party, dh
Watchdogs Ask Candidates To Take FOI Pledge
Sick of playing defense against efforts to erode the state Freedom of Information Act, an open government advocacy group has begun asking candidates to sign a pledge to support the public document disclosure law.
“Freedom of information and the public’s right to know about Connecticut state and municipal governments have been under increasing attack in recent years. So the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information urges you to take the Public Official’s Pledge for Open and Accountable Government,” Jim Smith, CCFOI’s president, said in a letter to candidates.
Smith, a former newspaper editor who heads the open government group, said he mailed about 360 letters Wednesday. The pledge letters went to every candidate for the General Assembly, as well as each candidate for the state’s constitutional offices.
The pledge asks candidates to oppose weakening the state’s public document disclosure law and require that any attempts to weaken the law be subjected to public hearings and debate before they are passed.
“There’s been too many midnight amendments where that doesn’t happen,” he said. “Let’s at least make sure that it gets a public debate.”
Lawmakers and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy changed the Freedom of Information law following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The law barred the disclosure of certain law enforcement images, among other changes. It was negotiated behind closed doors and then passed through both chambers of the legislature in less than an hour. The bill never received a public hearing.
During the next session, CCFOI lobbied against a bill based on recommendations from a panel tasked with balancing the public’s right to know with the privacy of crime victims. The task force recommended more changes to the FOI law. Ultimately, the legislature declined to make those changes.
Smith said open government advocates were hoping to take a more proactive approach to preserving the law.
“We’ve been tossing around things we could do that would put us on the offense. We play defense way too much. We’re always fighting proposals that try to shut the books, so we try to think of ways to be proactive,” he said.
Asked about the letter, Mark Bergman, a spokesman for Malloy’s campaign, responded with an email saying the governor would sign the pledge.
Meanwhile, Chris Cooper, a spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, said Foley has a policy of not signing pledges. But Cooper said Foley “agrees with the provisions of the pledge” and supports the Freedom of Information Act.
“Tom Foley believes in open, transparent government and has publicly opposed Governor Malloy’s many attempts to weaken or sidestep the FOI law,” Cooper said. In his email, Cooper included a list of Malloy’s “worst offenses against FOI and transparency.”
Malloy has been at odds with open government advocates at times during his first term. Over the summer, Smith called upon the Malloy administration to release documents related to a taxpayer-funded charter school organization under investigation following revelations about its CEO, who failed to disclose his criminal history among other things.
The group also opposed Malloy’s decision during his first year in office to consolidate the state Freedom of Information Commission and eight other agencies under the Office of Government Accountability.
Smith acknowledged the group’s sometimes rocky relationship with the Democratic governor, but said CCFOI has also commended Malloy when he’s taken steps in favor of transparency. He pointed to an executive order establishing a website tracking how economic development dollars are spent. The order mirrored legislation advocated by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo.
“We’ve praised him when he’s done right and we’ve always criticized him and other public officials when we don’t like what they’ve done,” he said.
Tags: James Smith, CCFOI, Dan Malloy, Tom Foley, Freedom of Information Act, dh
Who Supports Israel More? Esty or Greenberg?
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty stands to the right of many of her Democratic colleagues in supporting Israel, even amid its controversial bombings of the Gaza Strip earlier this year. Backers of Mark Greenberg, who is challenging the first-term incumbent in Connecticut’s 5th District, say he’ll be even more supportive.
When House Minority Leader Eric Cantor was upset in a primary in Virginia earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives lost its only Jewish Republican member.
Greenberg and four other Jewish Republicans (Bruce Blakeman and Lee Zeldin in New York, Elan Carr in California, and Micah Edmond in Virginia) are running this fall and have the support of the national Republican Jewish Coalition.
Noah Silverman, that organization’s congressional affairs director, said Wednesday that Esty’s endorsement by J Street, a Middle East affairs political action committee funded in part by billionaire George Soros, means that “anti-Israel” activists believe she will come through for them, despite her comments during this campaign.
Esty said last week that she is a “strong believer that Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself.” Compared to Greenberg, she said “there’s no difference in our views on that whatsoever.”
Esty went further and blamed Hamas in a statement deemed contrary to many national media reports and even criticism from within President Obama’s administration of Israel’s handling of the Gaza Strip conflict this year.
“A lot of the carnage we’ve seen there is directly related to Hamas’ use of human shields,” she said.
Esty supports a “two-state solution,” but said that “Palestinians have to elect leaders that don’t have (as) one of their top goals the destruction of Israel.”
Greenberg, a Litchfield businessman, went further in April, calling for the resignation of Secretary of State John Kerry over comments Kerry made about the potential for Israel to become “an apartheid state” if the “two-state solution” isn’t developed.
Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, said Wednesday that “Mark believes that Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East and one of our most reliable allies in the world.”
“Israel is a democracy in a part of the world where democracies are rare and unlike many of its neighbors, Israel allows religious freedoms, and treats women equally as men,” Evans said. “Mark believes that Israel has earned the support of the United States because of a relationship that dates back to America being the first nation to recognize the Jewish State as an independent country. In terms of foreign policy, Mark believes it is important to maintain a strong relationship with a stable partner like Israel. Mark strongly supports the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 that declared Israel our ‘major strategic partner’ and expanded coordination in defense, energy, and agriculture as well as other sectors.”
Greenberg’s comments about religion and foreign policy have generated controversy in the past. In his unsuccessful 5th District Republican primary bid two years, ago, he described Islam as “cult-like,” and said it was “not as peaceful” a religion as Christianity or Judaism. “Some people who believe in that religion are out to kill us,” he said on WNPR’s “Where We Live” radio program.
Last month, Greenberg’s campaign accused Democrats of plotting to make his Jewish heritage an issue in the campaign. The fact that Greenberg “identifies as Jewish” was included in a lengthy “opposition research book” prepared by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Esty said she has “not read” the document and had nothing to do with it. She said both parties do opposition research, and she’s sure that there’s something similar out there innocuously listing her as a “Congregationalist.”
“I would never make religion an issue,” she said.
Silverman, of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the organization is “definitely following the race” in Connecticut’s 5th District.
“We’re excited about Mark Greenberg and the other Jewish republicans who are running,” said Silverman, whose organization invited Greenberg to a leadership breakfast in Washington earlier this year. “We are very forthrightly pro-Israel and forthrightly pro-defense. We believe that the lesson of our history is that we assure peace through strength, and we also are very strong believers in the American system of government and society, and tend to think that the solution to our problems is not to become more like Europe. We’re very free-enterprise oriented and lean toward smaller government, and we’re not necessarily as unified on our views of social issues.”
Silverman said that Esty’s endorsement by J Street clearly means “they’re not the same on the issue” of Israel.
“For pro-Israel voters, that’s a very clear signal,” he said, citing J Street’s recent support of a UN resolution condemning Israel, which the Obama administration vetoed. “In the general framework of Israel policy in Washington, it’s understood that a candidate who has their imprimatur is less reliable than a candidate like Mark Greenberg, who they oppose.”
Silverman said that J Street is attempting to displace organizations such as AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) that are 100 percent behind Israel.
But an Esty supporter who has worked with AIPAC says Esty has worked with the organization and has been one of Connecticut’s most supportive elected officials when it comes to Israel.
“There’s no lack of support in her record and her actions,” said Daryl Woborow, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee in Avon and past president of the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation. “She does not come off as a (J Street)-type person.”
At a meeting he was involved in between AIPAC and Esty in March, Woborow said that the organization was “very impressed with her,” and that she even gained some supporters among conservative Republicans involved with the group.
“I’ve worked with her for three years . . . I’ve never heard any anti comments towards Israel or towards actions of Israel,” he said.
Laura Maloney, Esty’s spokeswoman, discounted the Jewish Republican Coalition’s take on the race.
“It’s hardly surprising that a Republican organization would attack Elizabeth, a Democrat,” she said. “What’s disappointing is the attempt to yet again turn Israel into a partisan football. Support for Israel should remain above petty politics.”
Tags: matt derienzo, Mark Greenberg, Elizabeth Esty, Israel, AIPAC, dh
Plan Focuses On Children’s Mental Health Crisis
Acknowledging that children with mental health challenges are spending more time in emergency rooms, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced a plan Wednesday to address what medical professionals describe as a “crisis.”
It spiked in May. According to a Connecticut Health Investigative Team report, the emergency department at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center saw 367 children in mental health crisis that month. During that same time period, Yale-New Haven Hospital also saw a 10- to 15-percent increase in emergency room visits.
“No child in mental health crisis should have to wait days to get access to the treatment they need,” Malloy said in a press release.
Malloy’s plan focuses on crisis stabilization and opens 14 respite beds to children who aren’t under the care of the Department of Children and Families.
Most of children with mental health issues end up in the emergency department because they struggle to find services in the community and the emergency department can’t turn them away.
Malloy’s plan calls on the Department of Social Services to submit a request for an increase in Medicaid rates for Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility capacity. If the state plan amendment is approved by the federal government then the Malloy administration is hoping it will encourage private providers to open additional beds.
“New beds would be available for children with behavioral health needs regardless of DCF involvement or payer,” according to the plan.
If approved by the federal government it means an additional $1.6 million in Medicaid funds for existing providers, but warns that the state faces additional costs if new beds are created.
Malloy’s plan piggybacks on a Department of Children and Families’ proposal finalized earlier this month. DCF’s plan focuses on developing a mental and behavioral health plan for youth, regardless of their insurance coverage or status with DCF. Many parts of the plan also will require legislative approval, but the legislature doesn’t reconvene until January.
Sen. Beth Bye, co-chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, applauded the governor for taking immediate steps and acknowledging the crisis.
“We have to do something now within the confines of what we have because it really is a crisis,” Bye said.
She said she understands there’s a longer conversation the legislature will need to have with the governor when it comes to funding these initiatives in the next two-year budget.
The plan Malloy released Wednesday increases existing funds by about $4 million with the option of increasing them by another $7 million if legislators decide to embrace the creation of a community-based Behavioral Health Assessment Center as an alternative to hospital emergency rooms.
Malloy’s plan also uses $160,282 in federal funds previously approved by two legislative committees to fund an emergency mobile psychiatric services employee who will staff emergency rooms and help children and families find the appropriate treatment.
Dr. Lisa Namerow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Institute of Living who practices at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, said she’s taking a “wait-and-see” approach. She said she’s happy the message that there is a crisis has gotten out there and people are listening. However, she still feels like she and her colleagues don’t have a seat at the table.
“Did anyone sit with child psychiatrist to say, ‘what kind of model is working with the kids you’re seeing in the emergency room?’,” Namerow asked Wednesday.
Opening up more beds for children with acute mental health problems is desirable, but Namerow wonders whether the respite beds that are part of Malloy’s plan are “going to be able to handle” the kids she’s seeing in the emergency room.
However, she is very pleased the crisis is being addressed.
“We hope someday, there will be the same level of services for children with mental health care needs as there are for children with medical needs,” Namerow said.
Susan Kelley, child and adolescent policy manager at National Alliance on Mental Illness in Connecticut, said it’s still not clear from what was released Wednesday what the best way is to address the crisis in the emergency room.
“The real issue is not to have them go the ER,” Kelley said.
However, the plan is a little “murky” on exactly what the system should look like. She suggested instead of re-creating the wheel with a community-based Behavioral Health Assessment Center — which would act as an alternative to emergency rooms — the state should look at the regional child guidance clinics. The clinics already exist and communicate with the Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Service network.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Len Fasano wonders if DCF is up to the task.
“Increasing treatment capacity for children with mental health needs is essential to improving care across our state, but these programs will only succeed if competently implemented,” Fasano said. “We need to seriously consider whether DCF currently has the expertise and ability to effectively implement such a broad ranging mental health overhaul.”
Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz said that the plan announced by Malloy reflects the fact that the best way to respond to children in crisis is to enhance the community-based services that can intervene before a crisis occurs.
“We have seen repeatedly that if we provide effective in-home and community-based services, we can prevent children from having to go to less-than-ideal settings — like a hospital emergency department — when the situation becomes acute,” she said. “The best solution is to offer help before that becomes necessary.”
But medical professionals say Katz’s desire to close so many group homes and congregate care beds has contributed to the current crisis in the ER.
“When they started to put pressure on placements to congregate care settings, they shut the door to sub-acute care kids with chronic conditions,” Namerow said.
DCF officials have repeatedly said in numerous public forums that they don’t believe that’s the case.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the difference between in-patient and respite beds.
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Wyman Joins National Group In Rally For The Middle Class
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman criticized Republican policies related to the economy Wednesday and touted the Democratic Party as the party of the middle class.
“This election is about a choice between two competing visions. One vision — the Democratic vision — says our economy can be built to last from the middle out by giving all Americans a fair shot at getting into the middle class and achieving the American Dream,” Wyman said at an event sponsored by Americans United for Change.
The national group, according to FactCheck.org, sprang from the ashes of Americans United to Protect Social Security — a labor-funded liberal group formed in 2005 to oppose then-President George W. Bush’s Social Security proposal. It changed its name in 2006. The group is a 501(c)4 organization and does not have to disclose its donors.
Hartford’s Bushnell Park was one of the first stops Americans United for Change made on what will be a four-week, 18-state bus tour to support Democrats running for state and federal offices across the country.
Wyman embraced the group’s platform. Standing outside the bus, she said Republicans weren’t interested in policies that benefit the middle class.
“The Tea Party Republican vision says if we pool all our resources at the top with the millionaires and big corporations while starving programs like Medicaid below, it will eventually trickle down to everyone else,” she said. “President Bush tested out that theory, and all he had to show for it was the Great Recession.”
But the Republican Party said Democrats can’t play the blame game when it comes to the economy.
“Dan Malloy passed the largest tax increase in Connecticut history — raising taxes on everything from gasoline to clothing and hurting middle class families in the process,” Connecticut Republican Party Spokesman Zak Sanders said in an email. “The difference in economic policies in this race is simple, Dan Malloy will raise taxes and Tom Foley won’t.”
Wyman cited the passage of paid sick leave, raising the minimum wage, and the success of Connecticut’s health care exchange as some of Malloy’s major policy victories.
“Under Malloy’s leadership Connecticut became the first state in the nation to pass a minimum wage increase to $10.10 and to pass legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers,” she said.
Raising the minimum wage is one of Americans United for Change’s major policy goals, along with infrastructure investment, college affordability, closing the pay gap between men and women, and protecting Social Security and Medicare from cuts and privatization.
Blake Williams, deputy communications director for Americans United for Change, said, “we came to Connecticut because we wanted to talk to people about Malloy and the importance of voting for candidates this November that are going to be focused on the issues that matter to the middle class.”
The bus tour will be traveling all through the eastern half of the United States, covering ground from Maine to Colorado to Florida before finishing in Virginia at the end of the month. The Wednesday morning stop in Bushnell Park was the only one planned in Connecticut.
“There’s a lot of big races we want to make sure people are tuned in to, and we want to make sure people choose candidates that are going to put the middle class first,” Williams said.
Lumaj Proposes Banning Some Convicts From Public Office
Peter Lumaj, the Republican candidate for secretary of the state, called Wednesday for a law banning anyone convicted of crimes like corruption and voter fraud from holding public office.
In a press conference held outside current Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s Capitol office, Lumaj cited recent corruption cases like the arrest of state Rep. Christina Ayala, D-Bridgeport, on voter fraud charges and the recent conviction of former Republican Gov. John G. Rowland for campaign corruption.
Lumaj’s proposal would prevent anyone convicted of corruption, voter fraud, or civil rights crimes from running for office or being a political appointee.
“I think it’s needed just to establish the confidence of the voters in our system again. Now, if someone has broken the trust of the voters once, why should we believe that they’re not going to break that trust again?” he said.
Lumaj’s proposal would not have directly impacted Ayala’s case or Rowland’s conviction. Although Rowland had corruption convictions prior to his more recent crimes, he was not seeking to win public office. Ayala, on the other hand, was being investigated for voter fraud, but has not been convicted of it and she wasn’t charged until after she had lost a primary in August.
However, Lumaj’s proposed law would have prevented the candidacy of Ernie Newton, another former Bridgeport lawmaker. Newton, who ran unsuccessfully this year for his old House seat, spent four years in federal prison after being sentenced on charges of accepting a bribe, evading taxes, and other campaign-related crimes. This year, Newton won the endorsement of the local Democratic Town Committee, but primary voters picked another candidate, Andre Baker.
In a phone interview, Merrill said she had faith in voters’ ability to choose their candidates. She said prior felons running for office was not one of the state’s pressing election issues. Merrill said Lumaj’s proposal also raised constitutional concerns.
“It contradicts the principle that once you have served your time and paid your debt to society, you can resume as a citizen,” Merrill said. “I’m not sure it would pass constitutional muster.”
Lumaj said he was especially concerned with the allegations against Ayala, a Bridgeport Democrat who ran into trouble with the law several times during her first term. Her most recent charges stem from accusations that she cast ballots in voting districts where she did not live. Lumaj has previously called for the resignation of Ayala’s mother, Santa Ayala, who is a Democratic registrar of voters in Bridgeport. Santa Ayala has not been charged.
“When you have 19 allegations of voter fraud filed against someone who was in office, that is a concern to the voters because that will shade their belief in our election process,” he said. “. . . Then you have her mother, who’s the registrar of voters, actually whose job it is to expose this kind of corruption and she didn’t do that.”
Merrill said she called for Santa Ayala to step aside more than a year ago when the investigation began, but lacks the authority to remove her from the elected position.
Merrill called the charges against Christina Ayala “troubling.”
“Anyone who holds public office takes an oath to uphold the law,” Merrill said after Ayala’s arrest last month. “While everyone is entitled to their day in court, voter fraud is a very serious crime for which we have zero tolerance.”
Lumaj told reporters he intended to make his proposal to “end Corrupticut” a cornerstone of the last few weeks in his campaign against Merrill. He said his campaign had momentum despite the release of a poll this week, suggesting Merrill leads by 9 percentage points.
“What we’re learning from this campaign is that there is a frustration. The voters want to see a new leadership in our state. We’re hearing Democrats, we’re hearing unaffiliated, we’re hearing Republicans that they’re waiting for leadership,” he said.
Merrill said she was running on a record of improving ballot access in Connecticut. As voters weigh her re-election, they will also consider a proposal she helped spearhead that would change the state constitution to remove restrictions limiting absentee voting.
“I’m all about trying to get more people voting. I’m confident that I have a great record,” Merrill said. “I hope I can do more.”
Tags: Peter Lumaj, denise merrill, election law, corruption, dh
Dogs And Dad Featured As Greenberg Defends Stance on Social Security
Mark Greenberg uses more cute dogs and his father in a new TV ad defending his position on Social Security that was released Wednesday.
Greenberg, a Republican businessman from Litchfield, is challenging first-term Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty in Connecticut’s 5th District.
His new ad is in response to several that Esty has aired in recent weeks claiming that Greenberg wants to dismantle Social Security. It cites a Hartford Courant “fact check” that described one of those Esty ads as false and misleading.
But Greenberg maintains the humorous tone that he established in his first ad of the campaign cycle, which featured a group of barking dogs at an animal shelter charity he founded in Bloomfield.
In his new ad, a dog is shown barking at a TV playing Esty’s attack ad. It then cuts to Greenberg standing next to his father, Jerry. Greenberg assures voters that no one would lose Social Security benefits under his plan, and his father chimes in with a tongue in cheek, “They’re barking up the wrong tree.”
The Esty campaign defended its Social Security ad on Tuesday. Spokeswoman Laura Maloney said, “We completely disagree with the Courant’s conclusion.” She said Greenberg has called Social Security a “failure” and has talked about “privatizing” it.
Greenberg’s new ad was produced by Jamestown Associates of Princeton, N.J., which has done work in the past for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, former 5th District Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, and former 4th District Congressman Chris Shays. The campaign would not disclose the details of the ad buy.
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QPoll Suggests Race For Governor Is A Dead Heat
The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Connecticut’s race for governor is a dead heat with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy closing last month’s six point lead held by Republican challenger Tom Foley.
The poll of 1,085 likely voters released Wednesday found Malloy and Foley tied with 43 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Third-party candidate Joe Visconti takes 9 percent of the vote. And like a month ago, the poll found Visconti is not playing the role of spoiler because he takes votes from Malloy and Foley at the same rate.
“The poll is good news for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said. “After trailing Republican Tom Foley by 6 points a month ago, Malloy is tied as this race promises to go down to the wire.”
In the past month, Malloy cut Foley’s lead among men from 19 to 11 points while his lead among women voters grew from 7 to 11 points. Men still back Foley 50-39 percent, with 8 percent for Visconti.
“There is a gender gap in the race with Malloy ahead by 11 percentage points among women and Foley up 11 points among men,” Schwartz said.
And each candidate still has time to convince voters.
“While there are only 5 percent of likely voters undecided, 25 percent of voters could still change their minds. It looks like we’re heading for another photo finish — just like in 2010,” Schwartz added.
The poll also found that voters don’t necessarily like either candidate. Malloy has a negative favorability rating with 41 percent approving of the job he’s doing and 51 percent disapproving. But Foley doesn’t score much better with voters. Foley’s favorability rating is split with 41 percent approving and 39 percent disapproving. Last month, the poll found 42 percent approved and only 33 percent disapproved of the former ambassador to Ireland.
“Malloy’s favorability rating is still underwater,” Schwartz said. “Foley gets a mixed favorability rating. He is a little better known since early September, but a little less liked.”
Schwartz said he couldn’t say for certain if Foley’s favorability dropped because of the debates or negative advertisements.
“The poll doesn’t say why,” Schwartz added. However, he speculated that it’s because Malloy has gone after Foley in the debates and that’s “helped contribute to a rise in negatives for Foley.”
And while the race has gotten better for Malloy “it’s not because they like him more, it’s because they like Foley less,” Schwartz said.
The poll is more good news for Malloy, even if it was unexpected.
On Tuesday a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association warned reporters in an email that Quinnipiac University is having trouble identifying “likely voters.”
“It’s worth noting the organization’s significant and ongoing challenges in accurately identifying an accurate sample of likely voters, and therefore capturing the state of races across the country,” Danny Kanner, a spokesman for the DGA, wrote.
It also comes on the heels of a Public Policy Polling survey, which found Malloy is up 8 points over Foley in a three-way race.
The polls was conducted Oct. 1-6 and has a 3 percent margin of error.
Nappier A No Show At Debate
Since August, Republican Tim Herbst has been trying to get state Treasurer Denise Nappier to agree to a debate.
Until Tuesday morning it looked as if it was actually going to happen. Herbst and Nappier would share the stage at the Hartford Public Library and talk about their views of the office. But Nappier’s campaign spokeswoman, Rose Ryan, said Nappier would be unable to attend due to “personal reasons.”
Mary Ann Turner of Enfield, who attended Tuesday’s debate at the Hartford Public Library, said she was disappointed Nappier was not there to lay out her vision for the state. In making her statement publicly at the forum, Turner said she understands Nappier is dealing with a family situation.
A relative of Nappier, who declined to give her name or say how she was related to Nappier, said she was unaware of any family situation. The female relative declined further comment when pressed by the media.
“If you run for public office you have to face the public,” Herbst said. “You have to answer to the public because at the end of the day the public employs us.”
“This is the business we have chosen,” Herbst said, quoting from the film Godfather II. “If you’re not going to face the public, if you’re not going to face the media, you need to find another line of work.”
On Sept. 22, Nappier told CTNewsJunkie in a phone interview that she’s always debated her opponent and was looking forward to Tuesday’s debate.
But it looks like Herbst’s desire to get in five debates before Election Day is fading fast.
“What concerns me most is that Ms. Nappier has been unable to demonstrate to Connecticut residents why she deserves another term in office,” Herbst said earlier in the day. “I am genuinely concerned for her well-being and I think Ms. Nappier needs to let the families of Connecticut know whether she is physically and emotionally able to carry out her duties managing $26 billion of assets.”
Nappier, who has held the office for 16 years, has declined interview requests with several news organizations. But she did sit down with the Courant’s editorial board on Sept. 17 for an interview. It’s the most extensive interview of this election cycle that she’s given.
Herbst was joined on stage Tuesday by two of the three candidates for state comptroller: Republican challenger Sharon McLaughlin and Green Party candidate Rolf Maurer. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo had a previously scheduled engagement and was unable to accept the invitation to the forum, which was sponsored by the Hartford Votes Coalition.
ANALYSIS | Esty Campaign Defends Negative Attacks in 5th District Race
By some political playbooks, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty appears to be acting more like a challenger than an incumbent congresswoman in her bid for re-election in Connecticut’s 5th District. Her campaign has attacked Republican opponent Mark Greenberg early and often and has been accused of gloves-off, misleading manipulation of Greenberg’s policy positions.
The tone of her campaign begs two questions:
1. Is Esty acting on fears of a Republican wave in the 5th District fueled by opposition to President Obama and Gov. Dan Malloy?
2. When will Mark Greenberg fight back?
Expect an answer very soon to the second question.
“We will be answering Esty’s lies with the truth beginning tomorrow, in mail, TV and other forums,” Greenberg campaign manager Bill Evans said Tuesday evening.
Esty’s first two TV ads highlighted the work she’s done to help veterans. Her last two have been all about Greenberg, claiming that he would end Social Security.
Her campaign has also generated a stream of press releases attempting to paint Greenberg as a far-right, “Tea Party” Republican with extreme views on social issues and mainstream government services.
Under the heading of “20 Ways in 20 Days: Why Mark Greenberg is Too Extreme for Connecticut,” the campaign has said he wants to eliminate the federal Department of Education and has quoted him saying he “doesn’t sympathize with homosexuality.”
Esty has been accused of stretching the truth in some attacks.
The Hartford Courant rated her attack ad on Social Security as simply “False,” saying her campaign engaged in “misleading editing of Greenberg’s words.”
The Courant wrote, “... all of Greenberg’s words have been presented in dramatically misleading fashion, in support of an overall claim — that Greenberg wants to ‘end Social Security’s guarantee’ — that is unsubstantiated by the facts,” the Courant wrote.
In an editorial board meeting with the New Haven Register on Friday, Esty denied using a push poll and said she had “suspicions” about the origins of the accusation. She said her campaign “would never” use such a tactic, and that she would “denounce” any campaign that did use push polls.
But the Esty campaign is doubling down on its message in the TV ad the Hartford Courant labeled as false.
“We completely disagree with the Courant’s conclusion,” said Laura Maloney, Esty’s spokeswoman. “The facts are very clear — Mark Greenberg called Social Security a ‘failure.’ And not only does he want to privatize it, but he fundamentally disparages those who have earned Social Security, saying seniors who have paid into the system and earned these benefits after lifetimes of hard work are ‘on the public dole.’ What Mark Greenberg clearly doesn’t get is that Social Security is a guarantee and a lifeline for seniors, keeping millions out of poverty. Instead, Mark Greenberg wants to dismantle it, and voters should know that.”
Evans countered Maloney’s assertions by offering context and highlighting the Courant’s analysis.
“Independent sources like the Hartford Courant say they’re lying,” Evans said. “Mark called Social Security a failure for younger people paying into the system … Does she think Social Security is going to be there in the future when the Social Security Administration website says it’s only going to be paying 73 cents on the dollar … if we continue to go down the same course?”
Despite the advantage of incumbency and that it’s been 10 years since a Republican has won the 5th District, Esty said she faces an uphill battle in a “swing district.” Malloy, facing a difficult re-election bid, lost the 5th District by a significant margin four years ago while squeaking into office statewide. And this year, Esty won’t benefit from the boosted Democratic turnout that came from a presidential election and Chris Murphy’s U.S. Senate bid two years ago.
Maloney said that Greenberg’s campaign was the first to go “negative,” with a steady flow of press releases attacking Esty, negative online video ads and negative mailers dating back to last year.
Esty says she’s confident voters will side with her if they know what the choice is between the two candidates. And that’s what has her launching attacks on Greenberg and following the playbook of a challenger.
“He needs to stop hiding,” Esty said. “If he wants to do this job, he needs to tell people who he is and what he would do and what he stands for.”
Esty’s campaign tried to make an issue last week of Greenberg “dropping out” of debates and avoiding a discussion of the issues. But that attack has also been challenged as misleading. A debate Esty claimed Greenberg “dropped out” of was described by a spokeswoman for the League of Women Voters in New Britain as a debate where the group was “unsuccessful in scheduling a date when both candidates could be present.”
Evans said Monday that Greenberg will “literally go anywhere” to debate and that the campaign would reschedule other events if necessary to do so.
Greenberg and Esty will meet for the first of at least two scheduled debates on Thursday night at the Portuguese Cultural Center, 65 Sand Pit Road, Danbury. It will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Connecticut and the News-Times of Danbury.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.
Tags: 5th congressional district, Esty, Greenberg, matt derienzo, push poll, debates, Social Security
GOP: Dems Aim to Rip Up Campaign Reform, ‘Throw It in the Garbage’
(Updated 4:50 p.m.) Republican lawmakers called the Democratic Party’s request to federal election regulators a “brazen” attempt to “toss out our state election laws” by allowing donations from state contractors to support statewide candidates.
Gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Tuesday, Republican lawmakers criticized the Democratic Party’s request to use funds donated to its federal account to pay for a mailer promoting Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election bid.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said to their credit “they’re very honest with what they hope to do” by getting the Federal Election Commission to allow it to use its federal account to promote state candidates.
Currently, money raised for the party’s federal account supports federal candidates and a portion of its staff. Since the money doesn’t fund state candidates it’s the preferred location for state contractor donations.
State contractors are prohibited from donating to state candidates under a 2005 law that created the Citizens Election Program in the wake of former Gov. John G. Rowland’s corruption scandal. The law was challenged in federal court and the contractor ban was upheld.
“Although the Connecticut campaign finance ban on contractor contributions is a drastic measure, it is an appropriate response to a specific series of incidents that have created a strong appearance of corruption with respect to all contractor contributions,” Cafero said. “The federal government upheld our law.”
If the Democratic Party is successful in getting the FEC to rule in their favor it would essentially obliterate Connecticut’s clean election laws, Republican lawmakers said.
Cafero said it’s understandable that in tight statewide and legislative races they would want to spend the money they’ve collected in the federal account, but state law prohibits them from doing that. So instead of abiding by the law, the Democratic Party hired a Washington D.C. attorney to go to try and change the law.
“They’ve hired a person to go to the federal agency and say ‘please tell the state to butt out of our business we don’t want to follow that law. We want to do it our way’,” Cafero said summing up the Democratic Party’s request.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, who lost the Republican nomination to challenge Malloy, said what the Democratic Party and the governor is trying to do with this request is “shamelessly undo that ban on contractors.”
McKinney and Cafero said there’s a reason the Democratic Party’s federal account has more money in it than the state account and that’s because they have gone out and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from state contractors who do business with the state.
The two presented the media with a partial list of state contractors who have given money to the Democratic Party’s federal account, including the Edward Snider, whose company was chosen to manage the XL Center in Hartford. Snider gave $10,000 to the party’s state account. The party refunded the money only to have Snider rewrite the check to its federal account.
Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, declined to answer questions after the Republican press conference. He directed reporters to a statement released prior to the event, which questioned where money raised by Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie was going.
“This reeks of desperation. If the CT GOP wants to be so transparent, they should tell voters how and where Chris Christie’s fundraising dollars are being spent and whether this so-called ‘special account’ for Tom Foley violates campaign finance laws,” Puglia’s statement said.
Zak Sanders, a spokesman for the Republican Party, said Republicans have had two fundraisers involving Christie.
“Both have benefited the Connecticut Republican Party state account, which is the account used to support our state candidates and the account in which we can’t accept money from state contractors,” he said. Sanders said the party referred to the account as the “Governor’s Victory Trust” before they had a nominee, but it was still subject to all the regulations of state law.
McKinney said none of the lawmakers who voted for the campaign finance bill in 2005 would support the use of federal account money proposed by Democrats.
“I defy you to find somebody who would say that because if they did, they would be lying,” he said.
Asked about the allegations from Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said he could not comment directly, but said the state’s campaign finance laws have been harmed by the Citizens United decision, which has allowed unlimited spending in elections by Super PACs.
“Now there is funding coming in from outside sources. We had a pristine system for a couple of election cycles, where people could qualify for the public grant and that would be the amount they used in the election,” he said. “Now, with other money coming into the system, it’s unfortunate but additional flexibility has to be built in to counteract late appearing, well-funded attacks.”
Looney pointed to late-October attack ads targeted in 2012 against Democratic state senators. The ads were funded by a Super PAC with one donor, Thomas Peterffy, a billionaire from Greenwich.
“You have to have some greater sense of flexibility to respond to these things,” Looney said.
Cafero said the Citizens United decision was no excuse for what the Democratic Party was trying to accomplish with the FEC request. He said the legislature had “another crack” at the state campaign finance law in 2013, after the decision, and chose to leave in place the ban on contractor contribution in statewide races.
Looney reaffirmed that Citizens United was the “camel’s nose under the tent” that disrupted state election laws.
“Everything else that’s had to be done since then flows from that, I think,” he said.
A spokesman for the State Elections Enforcement Commission said it would be filing its objection to the Democratic Party’s request by Friday with the FEC.
“We oppose any attempt to allow state contractor or other special interest money to influence Connecticut campaigns, and any effort to hinder public disclosure of contributions,” State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi said. “It is a matter of great importance to the integrity of Connecticut elections that funds that are generally prohibited from being used in Connecticut elections are not, in fact, used to make expenditures in Connecticut elections.”
Tags: Democratic Party, federal account, Lawrence Cafero, John McKinney, FEC, SEEC, public campaign finance
Nappier Won’t Attend Debate
State Treasurer Denise Nappier won’t be attending the one and only scheduled debate in the race for state treasurer Tuesday night.
Nappier’s campaign spokeswoman Rose Ryan said she would be unable to attend the event due to “personal reasons.”
Her Republican opponent Tim Herbst said he intends to attend the debate and “debate an empty chair,” if he has too. However, after spending the whole week prepping for the debate and rearranging his schedule, Herbst said he hopes Nappier reconsiders.
“I’m in a state of shock,” Herbst said an hour after learning of Nappier’s decision not to attend.
He said he hopes Nappier will be able to overcome the “personal reasons” and “join me in the remaining 29 days to discuss the critical issues facing our state.”
“What concerns me most is that Ms. Nappier has been unable to demonstrate to Connecticut residents why she deserves another term in office,” Herbst said. “I am genuinely concerned for her well-being and I think Ms. Nappier needs to let the families of Connecticut know whether she is physically and emotionally able to carry out her duties managing $26 billion of assets.”
The debate is sponsored by the Hartford Votes Coalition and will be begin at 6 p.m. tonight at the Hartford Public Library. It will also include two of the three candidates for state comptroller. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo was unable to accept the invitation to debate due to a previously scheduled event. But Rolf Maurer and Sharon McLaughlin will be attending. The debate will be moderated by CTNewsjunkie.com’s Christine Stuart.
Tags: Denise Nappier, Tim Herbst, debate
DeRienzo Joining CTNewsJunkie to Cover the 5th Congressional District
Matt DeRienzo, Digital First Media’s Northeast Regional Editor supervising publications in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, announced Monday that he is leaving the company and joining CTNewsJunkie for the coming months as an election correspondent.
DeRienzo, 38, had been with DFM in various capacities for 11 years and has been on the front end of efforts to transition the company’s print products to digital.
According to New Haven Independent editor Paul Bass, DeRienzo said it was the right time to move on to the next stage in his career. Bass further reported on job cuts in the Register’s newsroom in New Haven and wrote that DeRienzo “reportedly approached the company about removing his position rather than further eliminating reporter positions.”
DeRienzo wrote about his time with DFM in a new item on his blog headlined, “Proud of what we made as I leave Digital First Media.”
At least for the immediate future, DeRienzo will be working with Christine Stuart and Hugh McQuaid here at CTNewsJunkie, specifically to cover the 5th Congressional District contest between Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, Republican nominee Mark Greenberg, and independent conservative candidate John Pistone, along with other election-related news as it arises.
Meanwhile, New Haven Register Managing Editor Mark Brackenbury has been promoted to lead DFM’s newspapers in Connecticut, including its weeklies and all three of its daily newspapers here, the New Haven Register, the Register Citizen of Torrington, and the Middletown Press.
DeRienzo’s departure from DFM won’t change the company’s relationship with CTNewsJunkie — this site was contracted by DFM a few years ago provide news coverage of the legislature and state politics in general for all of DFM’s Connecticut publications. DeRienzo cited this relationship and the option to cover the 5th District as a way to help his former DFM colleagues through a busy election season.
Stuart said she is happy to be working with DeRienzo.
“An extra reporter during election season is always helpful for a small organization like ours and we’re happy to be expanding our coverage of the congressional races down the stretch,” Stuart said.
Tags: digital first media, new haven register, Register Citizen, middletown press, matt derienzo, CTNewsJunkie, election 2014, 5th congressional district, dh
OP-ED | Obamacare Helps Millions, But Falls Short In Many Ways
Per Capita Cost Of Care Still Higher Than In Other Nations
Although there is no shortage of critics of the Affordable Care Act — on the far left as well as the right — it’s hard to dispute that the law has benefited millions of Americans. And not just those who have become newly insured over the past year.
President Barack Obama cited some of the impressive statistics last Thursday, the day after the one-year anniversary of the turbulent debut of the Obamacare-created online health insurance exchanges.
“In just the last year, we’ve reduced the share of uninsured Americans by 26 percent,” he said. “That means one in four uninsured Americans — about 10 million people — have gained the financial security of health insurance in less than one year.”
Approximately 8 million people were finally able to sign up for coverage on the exchanges after the many technical problems were fixed. Many others were able to enroll in health plans on private exchanges or by working directly with an insurance company or agent. As a consequence, the rate of uninsured Americans dropped from 21 percent in September 2013 to 16.3 percent this past April.
Even though open enrollment for the Obamacare exchanges ended in April, people have still been joining the ranks of the insured since then. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the number of newly insured Americans will grow to 12 million by the end of this year.
A significant percentage of those folks were not able to find affordable coverage in the past, and many were not able to buy health insurance at any price because of insurance industry business practices that were outlawed by the ACA. Before Obamacare, insurance companies were able to declare you “uninsurable” if you had a preexisting condition, even conditions you might have been born with.
During the months that health care reform was being debated in Washington, I met many young people who told me they had not been able to buy an insurance policy because of congenital heart defects and other conditions they had had since birth.
Now they can.
That provision and other parts of Obamacare that force insurance companies to be more consumer-friendly benefit all of us, but those sections of the law are rarely mentioned these days, probably because many of them went into effect long before the exchanges were up and running. Here’s a partial list:
The law also benefits seniors on Medicare by closing the donut hole in the prescription drug benefit and by covering preventive care, including screenings, and it is saving the Medicare program billions of dollars by gradually reducing the extra amounts the government has been paying private insurers to participate in the Medicare Advantage program.
All that said, the law falls short in many ways. While it is reducing the rate of uninsured Americans, it doesn’t get us anywhere close enough to the universal coverage that residents of other developed countries enjoy. While the ACA will cut the number of uninsured by half in the coming years, the CBO estimates that 31 million of us will still be uninsured in 2024.
Many of the newly insured are also finding that their choices of health care providers is severely limited in some of the health plans being offered on the exchanges. “Narrow networks” are not new — they were common in the managed care plans of the 1990s — but insurers gradually began to broaden their networks after widespread complaints. Now they’re making a comeback.
The ACA also allows insurers to sell plans with very high deductibles. They can appear at first glance to be good deals because their premiums generally are lower than plans with more modest deductibles. But many people who enroll in high-deductible plans find out after they get sick or injured that they can’t afford to pay their share of their medical bills. Although the ACA does put a limit on out-of-pocket expenses, it still will not prevent many insured families from filing for bankruptcy after a serious illness.
And while the law apparently is helping to keep medical costs in check, it doesn’t go far enough. We still spend more per capita on health care than any other country. In that sense, I agree with my former colleagues in the insurance industry: the law doesn’t do enough to address the “real cost drivers” of medical inflation. That will require taking on the hospital companies, physician organizations and drug makers in ways the White House and members of both parties in Congress were not willing to do in 2009 because of the political clout they have in Washington. Consequently, much more reform will have to be undertaken in years to come.
Tags: Wendell Potter, Healthcare reform in the United States, Health, Insurance, Health insurance, Health insurance in the United States, Health care reform in the United States, Social Issues, United States National Health Care Act, Medicare, Health and Medical and Pharma, Health insurance exchange, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Health care reform, Health insurance coverage in the United States, dh
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Democratic Party Wants To Use Federal Account For Malloy Mailer
The state Democratic Party is asking the Federal Election Commission to allow it to use funds donated to its federal account to pay for a mailer promoting Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election bid.
Neil Reiff, a lawyer for the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, asked the FEC on Oct. 1 to “determine whether the attached mailing qualifies as a ‘federal election activity’.”
Reiff even makes it clear from the outset that the mailer isn’t intended to promote any candidates running for federal office.
“For purposes of this request, the Commission should assume that the requested mailings will not reference any candidate for federal offices,” Reiff wrote to the FEC.
The mailer attached to the request shows Malloy reading to a child on the front. It also includes a quote from Malloy.
“While Republicans around the country are forcing debates that belong in the 19th century, Connecticut is leading the nation in making progress for the 21st century. While we have more work to do, we’re on the right path, and we’re moving forward,” the mailer reads.
In his letter to the FEC, Reiff referenced a recent SEEC decision in which state regulators warned they would be closely monitoring the party’s federal account activity.
State election law prohibits state contractors from contributing to state party accounts or statewide candidates. But state contractors are not prohibited from giving money to the party’s federal account, which pays for some administrative costs and federal campaign activities.
Last month, state election regulators were forced to rule that an email solicitation from the head of Northeast Utilities in 2013 didn’t violate Connecticut election law even though it used Malloy’s accomplishments to solicit money for the Democratic Party’s federal account.
The SEEC concluded that it was “offensive and disturbing and violates the spirit and intent of the Connecticut state contractor ban,” but there was nothing in the state law that made the more than $50,000 in contributions illegal.
At the time. SEEC Commissioner Stephen Penny said to direct money that was on its face being raised to support a statewide candidate and deposit that money into the party’s federal account “is an abuse not only of what that federal account is intended for, but clearly seems to be an effort to bypass the workings of the Connecticut finance law.”
He suggested the state legislature take a look at revising Connecticut’s law to prohibit this type of conduct.
However, Reiff argues in his letter to the FEC that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 includes a provision which says “any activities that were undertaken by a state or local party committee that constituted a ‘federal election activity’ must be paid for exclusively with federal funds, or with a combination of federal and non-federal funds provided that several conditions were met.”
In addition, Reiff argues that if federal election regulators make a ruling on the request, it should overrule any action taken by the state Elections Enforcement Commission.
“Federal law is clear on this point,” Reiff wrote in his letter. “Federal courts, as well as the FEC, have consistently determined that the FECA preempts any state law that frustrates the purpose of the federal election laws, as well as interpretations of federal law and regulations of the FEC.”
Earlier this year, state election regulators put the Democratic Party on notice that it was closely watching its fundraising efforts.
In an advisory opinion, state election regulators concluded that “federal law does not create a loophole in the Citizens’ Election Program and other Connecticut campaign finance laws that would allow federal committees to make expenditures that are also contributions regarding Connecticut candidates.”