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Another Day, Another Million In PAC Money

by Kristi Allen | Oct 29, 2014 10:04pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014, Transparency

Another day, another million dollars in PAC money flows into state campaign coffers. Groups supporting Republicans and Democrats spent just over $1 million dollars last week as election season entered its final days.

According to financial disclosure forms filed with the state election regulators Tuesday $465,000 was spent in support of Democrats and $640,000 on Republicans last week. This brings the state to a total of $16.4 million in outsider money spent on state elections.

Opposing sides of the gun control debate each made large contributions. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-gun control PAC plans to spend $1.7 million on the race. To date it has spent $18,000 on ads opposing Tom Foley.

The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund spent $43,000 on mailers this week as well.

The Democratic and Republican Governors Associations continued their large contributions, giving $330,000 and $600,000 to PACs affiliated with Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley respectively on Tuesday. Both the RGA and the DGA have each spent $5.5 million on the governor’s race so far. This dwarfs the $1.6 and $1.7 they spent on the first Malloy/Foley matchup in 2010.

The Working Families for Connecticut PAC, which supports Malloy, spent $97,000 this week, mostly on canvassing services. They have raised $694,000 in this election cycle.

Other PACs reporting included the American Federation of Teachers, which gave the Malloy-affiliated PAC Connecticut Forward $100,000 and the Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut PAC, which has raised $11,000.

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Candidates For State Treasurer Spar In Their Only Debate

by Christine Stuart | Oct 29, 2014 9:28pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Pension

Courtesy of NBC Connecticut

State Treasurer Denise Nappier and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst

The one and only 25-minute debate between Democratic State Treasurer Denise Nappier and her Republican challenger Tim Herbst wasn’t long enough. The two candidates sparred after the debate at NBC Connecticut’s West Hartford studio.

Max Reiss, NBC’s political reporter who helped moderate the debate, said the two candidates continued their policy discussion after the event, which was livestreamed on NBC’s website.

The microphones were silent, but the finger pointing continued in both directions after their closing statements.

While the cameras and microphones were rolling each candidate accused the other of lying about the state’s fiscal condition and the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.

“We have an obligation to the tens of thousands teachers and state workers all across Connecticut to turn this ship around. To rebound our pension fund. To make sure that our taxpayers aren’t on the hook for this huge unfunded liability,” Herbst said. “Unfunded liability is code language for future tax increases.”

Nappier responded by saying “Tim likes to repeat untruths, but doesn’t make it true.”

“He wants to blame me for things I have nothing to do with whatsoever,” Nappier said. “It’s probably easier for him to do that because perhaps he thinks that the voters will not know the difference, but they do know the difference.”

Nappier went onto explain that the treasurer can only invest what they receive and historically the governor and the General Assembly have not given her funds to invest.

“That’s called lost investment opportunity,” Nappier said.

Courtesy of NBC Connecticut She said the state of Connecticut is performing better than 65 percent of similar public pension funds in the country.

Herbst said the discount rate or the rate of return assumed by the retirement boards and by the state treasurer are unrealistic.

“What that unrealistic rate of return does is mask that true unfunded liability,” Herbst said. “So all we’re doing in the long-term is continuing to kick the can rather than confronting our problems.”

Nappier said over the past five years the state has generated investment gains of 44 percent for the state and teacher pension funds, “realizing in absolute numbers a $9 billion increase in pension fund investment.”

“When you hit one birdie that doesn’t make up with 16 years of double bogeys and four putts,” Herbst said using a golf analogy. “The fact of the matter is when Treasurer Nappier sought this office in 1998 she ran on a platform of unfunded liabilities. When she inherited a pension fund in 1998 that fund was stable and over the last 16 years we have declined to the second-most underfunded pension system in the nation.”

Courtesy of NBC Connecticut Herbst said she has performed “25 percent under her own benchmarks and we have been ranked by independent financial experts as having a pension fund that ranks in the bottom 50th percentile for performance.”

Napper said the Northwestern University study Herbst cited was “discredited.” She said the study assumed the pension fund would be insolvent by 2019 because it assumed the state would never make another contribution to the pension fund and assumed a discount rate that was much lower than what the state expects to achieve.

“We’ve achieved double-digit returns over the last five years,” Nappier said.

The two also sparred over how Nappier handled a decision of the Investment Advisory Council when it came to its recommendation not to invest with Fairview Capital Partners. In 2010 the council voted against investing with the company, but Nappier went forward with the investment one year later.

“The fact of the matter is that our system of pension fund governance is sound,” Nappier said. “The state law gives the Investment Advisory Council the authority to recommend to the governor that he direct me to undo, if not, make an investment. The Investment Advisory Council did not act on that authority. To me that says they ultimately agreed with my investment recommendation.”

Herbst asked to respond to Nappier.

“For the state treasurer to say this isn’t true are we now saying the Hartford Courant isn’t reporting the facts,” Herbst said.

“That’s not what I said,” Nappier replied.

Herbst said that’s why Connecticut needs to change the law so that the state treasurer is not the sole fiduciary of these funds.

Herbst said Nappier needs to explain why her office is continuing to do business with Landmark Partners, a firm managed by Francisco Borges, a personal friend and ally to Nappier.

“With all due respect, people in glass houses should not throw stones,” Herbst said.

Nappier said Herbst was trying to rewrite history with his remarks about Landmark Partners.

“I was the one who came into office and had to clean up from the scandalous administration of my Republican predecessor,” Nappier said.

She was referring to former state Treasurer Paul Silvester who served prison time for pay-to-play schemes.

This was the only debate between the two candidates. Nappier cancelled an Oct. 7 debate appearance for “personal reasons.”

Parts of the debate will re-air at 10 a.m. Sunday on NBC’s Decision 2014. The full debate will be posted on NBC’s website.

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Malloy Rallies The Troops

by Christine Stuart | Oct 29, 2014 5:09pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Before he arrived to give the Working Families Party volunteers a five-minute pep talk, the head of one of the state’s largest unions and a local state representative reminded the crowd of all the progressive things Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy did during his first term.

From raising the minimum wage to making Connecticut the first state to implement a paid sick days law, Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4 and state Rep. Ed Vargas, reminded the crowd of about 50 volunteers huddled in the second floor offices of the Hartford headquarters why they need to support Malloy.

“There couldn’t be a bigger difference between these two candidates,” Luciano said, referring to Malloy and his Republican challenger Tom Foley. “One cares about working people. The other knows how to lay them off.”

Christine Stuart photo

Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4

Malloy, who was wearing a dress shirt and jeans Wednesday, told the group that this election will be “won on the streets or lost on the streets. That’s the reality.”

“It’s neck-and-neck,” Malloy said. “Whoever gets more of their supporters to the polls, wins.”

Malloy was cross-endorsed again this year by the Working Families Party. Foley, for the first time, was cross-endorsed by the Independent Party. Four years ago, the Independent Party ran former Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh who received more than 17,000 votes.

In 2010, Malloy won the election by a slim margin of 6,404 votes. His name appeared on ballot lines for both the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party. That year, Malloy received 26,308 votes on the Working Families Party line.

How big of a difference will a cross-endorsement make this year?

“Every vote counts the same no matter what line it’s on,” Malloy said Wednesday.

The Working Families Party says a vote on the party’s line “sends a message that voters want them to take a stand on important issues affecting hard-working people. It is a protest vote that actually counts.”

Trying to downplay the significance of his name appearing twice on the ballot, Malloy said both the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party worked hard to get him elected four years ago and are working just as hard this year.

“We have built a ground game we are very proud of,” Malloy said. “We are communicating with our voters. We think we’re going to get them to the polls. That’s what this election is about in the next six days.”

When he received the Independent Party endorsement in August, Foley walked back statements he made in 2013 when he blamed his loss to Malloy partly on the cross-endorsement, which allows a candidate’s name to appear twice on the ballot.

“If Gov. Malloy was not allowed to be listed by the Working Families Party, I would have won the election,” Foley testified at a legislative hearing in 2013.

But he walked back that statement in August.

“I’ve never felt that way,” Foley said on Aug. 19. “I actually thought I probably lost net 2,500 votes.”

He said he thinks Marsh pulled votes from both Democrats and Republicans in 2010. He thinks Marsh didn’t spend much money on the race so people really didn’t know who they were voting for. He said the voters who voted for Marsh just didn’t like him or Malloy.

This year, Foley and Malloy are sharing the ballot with petitioning candidate Joe Visconti, who, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, would receive 7 percent of the vote if the election were held today. Visconti’s support over the past two weeks has dropped from 9 percent to 7 percent. Among unaffiliated voters his support has dropped from 16 percent to 14 percent, and 75 percent of those polled still don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

The poll also found that even without Visconti, the race between Malloy and Foley is within one point.

“A poll is a poll, is a poll, is a poll,” Malloy said Wednesday. “The only one that counts is November 4th.”

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Malloy Seeks To Boost Favorability With His Latest Ads

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 29, 2014 12:00pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Media Matters

Screengrab Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign is trying to soften his image with two television ads in the final week before the election.

Malloy, a first-term Democrat in a tight rematch with his 2010 Republican rival Tom Foley, has struggled with high unfavorable ratings in public polls. Malloy has never reached a 50 percent approval rating and in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 52 percent of voters said they have an unfavorable opinion of him.

After spending much of the campaign trying to tear down Foley’s approval rating, the final stretch of Malloy’s ad campaign is aimed at building up the governor’s numbers.

“I have a confession to make, I’m not always that fun-loving guy you might think,” Malloy says in a self-narrated, 30-second ad released Monday. “I know you don’t always agree with me but please know this, throughout Connecticut’s darkest days . . . I’ve always, always looked after you.”

The campaign followed the commercial Tuesday with a one minute TV spot, narrated by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and focusing on Malloy’s response to severe weather events during his first term as well as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“I know the Dan Malloy that does care,” Wyman says. “His heart was broken just like everybody else’s was when he saw houses devastated, people devastated. Sitting there and talking, every time he saw somebody who was in pain, it hurt Dan Malloy.”

Republicans have characterized Malloy as an “angry guy” and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried reinforce that message at a campaign stop for Foley on Monday night.

“What Dan Malloy does is just play partisan angry politics,” Christie said.

But Foley and his running mate, Heather Bond Somers, have also released a positive ad to close out the final stretch of a negative campaign.

“We’re problem-solvers, consensus builders,” Somers says. “After four years of one-party rule, we’ll bring more cooperation in Hartford.”

“As outsiders, we’re independent thinkers,” Foley says. “We’ll listen to good ideas, no matter which side of the aisle they come from.”

Although the candidates have struck a more positive note in their last TV ads, PACs funded by outside groups are continuing to launch attack ads. On Monday, Grow Connecticut, a PAC supported by the Republican Governors Association, released an ad repeatedly calling Malloy a liar.

“Tired of the lies?” a narrator asks. “Connecticut can do better. Vote for Tom Foley.”

Meanwhile, Connecticut Forward, a PAC supported by the Democratic Governors Association and labor groups, accuses Foley of offering workers at a company he owned a 10-cent raise while making millions for himself and not paying taxes in Connecticut since 2010.

“A mere dime for workers, millions for Tom Foley. Do you really think this guy will ever care about you?” a narrator asks.

In a phone interview earlier this month, 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.

“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.”

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5th District Notebook: Esty Defends Opposition To Death Penalty

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 29, 2014 10:03am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Law Enforcement, Transparency, Cheshire, Newtown

Matt DeRienzo photo

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty addresses the lunchtime crowd at the Sullivan Senior Center in Torrington on Tuesday.

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty offered a passionate defense of her opposition to the death penalty Tuesday night, a week before voters will decide whether to re-elect her to a second term representing Connecticut’s 5th District.

The last time Esty ran for re-election, as a state representative in 2010, her vote to abolish Connecticut’s death penalty, following the Petit family triple murder in the town she represented, helped lead to her defeat.

“I’m a lifelong opponent of the death penalty. It cost me my seat in the state legislature . . . ” Esty said at a candidate forum sponsored by the Woodbury Business Association. “I live in Cheshire. Awful, terrible things happened in my community. I remember sitting at my kitchen table and hearing those sirens . . . An evil visited my community, but I do not believe that is made right by the state killing in my children’s name.”

Mark Greenberg, a Litchfield real estate developer who is challenging her on Nov. 4, has criticized her position on the death penalty, in the past citing the case of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and on Tuesday invoking the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“I do believe in the death penalty,” he said. “I believe, had Adam Lanza survived, he should have been put to death for the terrible thing he did.”

Esty said life in prison is a more appropriate penalty for heinous crimes.

“I want perpetrators of that crime . . . to rot in jail for the rest of their lives, to contemplate the magnitude of what they’ve done,” she said. “But I don’t think taking their lives makes it even and I don’t think it makes it better. I want them to feel the gravity of that, and I believe that to be a greater punishment.”

In an editorial board meeting with the New Haven Register earlier this month, Esty said the death penalty is disproportionately used against people of color.

“We only kill people who kill white people in this country,” she said. “We don’t kill people who kill black people.”

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 76 percent of victims were white in cases where the perpetrator was executed since 1976, while 15.2 percent of victims were black and 6.6 percent were Latino.

LAKEVILLE JOURNAL BACKS ESTY: The Lakeville Journal, a weekly newspaper with a strong following in Connecticut’s Northwest Corner, has endorsed Elizabeth Esty’s re-election bid. The newspaper said Esty “has worked across party lines, sometimes finding herself at odds with the Democratic leadership,” and praised her work on behalf of constituents and on House committees on transportation, science, and gun violence. It said that Mark Greenberg’s “experience as a businessman and philanthropist does not give him enough governmental knowledge to represent the 5th.”

The Lakeville Journal endorsed Esty in her first run for Congress two years ago as well, snubbing her Republican opponent, Andrew Roraback, a popular state senator from Goshen who had represented the area in the General Assembly for years.

Esty also has won the endorsement of the Hartford Courant, New Haven Register and The Register Citizen of Torrington. Greenberg has been endorsed by the Republican-American of Waterbury.

GREENBERG USES EBOLA: Mark Greenberg continues to use the Ebola outbreak as a campaign issue. In his latest TV ad, he blames Elizabeth Esty for not doing enough to urge a stronger U.S. response to the crisis.

Earlier this week, he took exception to criticism “Washington bureaucrats” have made against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s efforts to quarantine state residents who have been exposed to people with the disease.

“I am appalled by these harsh criticisms of tough measures that prevent the spread of Ebola,” Greenberg said. “A temporary quarantine would not only demonstrate that state governments can control the risk of an outbreak, but would also provide much needed peace of mind to our families and communities. The bloated and ineffective Washington bureaucracy has no right to set the standards by which our states respond to Ebola, especially since those states have a better understanding of their constituency’s needs and concerns.”

ESTY AD TOUTS ENDORSEMENTS: Elizabeth Esty unveiled a new TV ad Wednesday that touts her endorsement by the Hartford Courant and Lakeville Journal. It continues to hammer Mark Greenberg for his proposal to raise the Social Security retirement age and for opposing abortion rights.

MILITARY EQUIPMENT FOR LOCAL COPS DEFENDED: Elizabeth Esty and Mark Greenberg both defended use of surplus military equipment by local police departments at a candidate forum Tuesday in Woodbury. The issue became controversial after black protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, clashed with police who were using tanks and other military equipment last month.

A student at Nonnewaug High School, who has seen local police deploy military vehicles to the school, asked them about it.

“Having served on a local town council, the budgets are tight,” Esty said. “. . . So I want to see us use equipment that makes sense, that the U.S. taxpayers have paid for.”

She said that some repurposed military communications equipment, in particular, makes sense for local police departments. But, she said, “Congress does need to revisit the whole policy.”

Greenberg said it should be up to local departments and selectmen to decide whether the equipment makes sense for them. “I’ve always believed that the best decisions for a community are at the local level,” he said.

LOWER TAXES, HIGHER REVENUE? At several recent appearances, Mark Greenberg has argued for reducing the federal government’s corporate tax rate, reducing capital gains taxes and reducing marginal rates on personal income taxes. He argues that lower taxes will lead to more overall tax revenue as businesses invest the savings into creating jobs and growing the economy. He said it worked when President John F. Kennedy and President Ronald Reagan did it in the 1960s and 1980s.

STUDENT LOANS: Mark Greenberg and Elizabeth Esty agree that the federal government should take action to lower interest rates on student loans, but differ on whether some loans should be forgiven.

Greenberg said Tuesday that interest rates “should be lowered immediately,” but that student loans are a “contract” that students must pay back.

Esty said that the country should consider forgiving student loans in situations where students cannot find employment for an extended period of time, or in the case of teachers whose outstanding loans dwarf their annual salary.

STRATEGICALLY PLACED BILLBOARD: In discussing investment in transportation infrastructure and the chronic traffic problems Tuesday in Waterbury, Mark Greenberg urged voters to check out his billboard the next time they are stuck in traffic on I-84. He said his campaign purchased it at a location near Exit 25A in Waterbury knowing that motorists would have to sit there for a long time each day staring at it.

“You’re stuck in traffic there while you’re reading my billboard,” he said. “It was picked for that reason.”

Greenberg said it’s wrong for Connecticut to be sending more tax revenue to Washington than it gets back for projects like the widening of I-84, and he also criticized Connecticut legislators for using revenue from “the highest state gas tax around” on things other than transportation infrastructure.

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OP-ED | Changes To Obamacare Needed

by Linda Wallace | Oct 29, 2014 10:00am
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Posted to: Opinion

A year ago the news was consumed with the flubbed rollout of Obamacare.

Long wait times, unresponsive websites, the system had a rough start, and more than a few experts wondered if the Affordable Care Act would survive.

Fast-forward to today, and not only is the health insurance landscape working, it’s much improved for millions of Americans.

Right here in Connecticut, tens of thousands of our neighbors now have health insurance. According to a recent survey by Access Health CT, more than 50 percent of exchange customers who signed up in 2013 had been previously uninsured.

This is truly a win — especially for those fighting chronic illnesses, like the patients we work with managing their epilepsy diagnosis.

But, the war is not won. There is still much to do to ensure that those who are signing up for health insurance plans know what it is they are paying for, what treatments are covered, and how much it will cost them.

That is why the Epilepsy Foundation joined with more than 300 other patient advocates to call on the Department of Health and Human Services to take action to improve certain aspects of the plans.

For the millions who live with chronic illnesses, access to medication often makes the difference between living a productive life, and being left immobilized by their disease.

For those living with epilepsy, not only access to medication, but continued care on the medication that their doctors prescribe is critical. Because of the way this disease works, even the slightest change in a medication can have devastating effects.

It also is critical that for those who need it, medications are not only available, but affordable.

Many of the current plans are putting some of the most critical medications for those battling chronic diseases on “tiers” that raise the cost of the co-pay or, in some cases, charge patients a percentage of the entire cost of the drug.

For some, those costs can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. For many, that means making a choice between paying for their medications or life’s other necessities.

As we head into another open enrollment session in November, and in order for the Affordable Care Act to continue to be a success, we must insist that insurers stop targeting the small percentage of patients who need these medications. 

The idea of insurance is that when you’re sick, the high costs will be spread out across the system. A tenet of the ACA was that no American should be bankrupted by their disease.

We must continue to demand that insurers abide by these standards, and ensure that those who are subscribing to these plans are truly able to access the coverage that they need.

Linda Wallace is the executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut.

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Poll Finds Race For Governor Is Still A Dead Heat

by Christine Stuart | Oct 29, 2014 6:43am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Poll

CTNJ file photos

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley

(Updated 1:50 p.m.) The race for governor in Connecticut is still dead heat with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley tied with 43 percent of the vote. Third-party challenger Joe Visconti received 7 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

Seven days ago, the poll found Malloy up one percentage point over Foley, but Wednesday’s numbers show Foley winning unaffiliated voters by 15 percentage points. Malloy had cut Foley’s lead among unaffiliated voters in the Oct. 22 poll down to two points.

Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said the swing in unaffiliated voters to Foley is “a good sign,” for the Republican, “but still not enough.”

“In order for a Republican to win in Connecticut they really need to win overwhelmingly among independents. In the 2010 election, according to exit polls, Foley also did well among independents. I believe he had a 20 point margin among independents and yet he still lost,” Schwartz said.

Just six days before the election, 86 percent of Connecticut likely voters who name a candidate say their mind is made up, while 13 percent say they might change their mind. Of those likely voters, 89 percent are Malloy voters, 90 percent are Foley backers, and 56 percent of Visconti supporters say they might change their mind.

If Visconti was not in the race, the poll found Foley gets 46 percent to Malloy’s 45 percent.


Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans are returning to their base with 87 percent of Republicans supporting Foley and only 4 percent supporting Visconti, and 82 percent of Democrats supporting Malloy and only 3 percent supporting Visconti.

Wednesday’s poll of 838 likely voters found there’s still a sizable gender gap between the two candidates. Malloy leads Foley 52-35 percent among women, with 5 percent for Visconti, while Foley leads Malloy 51-34 percent among men, with 10 percent for Visconti.

The good news for Foley is that is favorability rating has climbed back up since the Oct. 22 poll.

In Wednesday’s poll voters give Foley a split 43-43 percent favorability rating, while Malloy gets a negative 41-52 percent score. Visconti remains unknown as 75 percent of voters still don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

“Foley’s favorability rating has improved,”Schwartz said. “Voters now have a mixed opinion of him after viewing him negatively. Voters’ views of Malloy are stable and negative.”

In the Oct. 22 poll Foley’s favorability numbers 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 went from 33 percent on September 10, to 39 percent on October 8, to 46 percent on October 22 and back down to 43 percent Wednesday. Meanwhile, the percentage of survey respondents who view Malloy unfavorably had dropped slightly from 53 percent on September 10 to 51 percent on October 8 and to 50 percent on October 22. But that percentage was back up to 52 percent on Wednesday.

However, Schwartz said the fundamental dynamic in the race remains.

“You have a governor who is not popular and yet he’s able to hold off his Republican challenger,” Schwartz said. “The Republican challenger Tom Foley has not been able to exploit the governor’s weakness. It appears the governor has done a good job of defining Foley.”

The good news for Foley is that his favorability has come back up slightly.

“In our last poll our voters had a negative opinion of him,” Schwartz said. “Today, they have a mixed opinion of him, but it’s not enough to put him ahead.”

Schwartz said he will be watching the undecided voters closely for the next poll. In 2010, the poll one day before the election had Foley up 3 points over Malloy.

“And on Election Day it’s going to come down to the ground game,” Schwartz said. “When you’re in such a close race turnout can make a difference that’s why Democrats are bringing in the big guns with President Obama and Michelle Obama and the Republicans are bringing in Chris Christie.”

Part of that ground game involves motivating a party’s base.

President Barack Obama will visit Bridgeport on Sunday, and First Lady Michelle Obama will be in New Haven on Thursday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to make his fifth appearance in the state on Monday on behalf of Foley.

The poll was conducted between Oct. 22 and Oct. 27 has a 3.4 percent margin of error.

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Tea Party Themes Emerge In Greenberg’s Run Against Esty

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 28, 2014 8:53pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District

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Mark Greenberg speaks at a candidates’ forum in Woodbury Tuesday night as 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty looks on.

WOODBURY — President Obama lied about Benghazi. Women should be required to look at a sonogram of their unborn child before getting an abortion. Man-made climate change might not exist. Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch initiative is bad for children.

Mark Greenberg, the Litchfield real estate developer challenging the re-election bid of first-term 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, said all of these things in a candidate forum in Woodbury Tuesday night, bringing themes that have been popular in “Tea Party” Republican campaigns in other parts of the country to Connecticut.

Ideological and policy differences between the two candidates were as sharp as ever in what was likely to be their last meeting together, one week before the Nov. 4 election. They spoke in a packed room at the Curtis House Inn at an event sponsored by the Woodbury Business Association.

Greenberg repeatedly criticized President Obama and tied Esty to the policies and actions of his administration. Esty pointed out the “very different” views she has from Greenberg on Social Security, the minimum wage, reproductive rights, health care, gun control and the environment.

Asked about abortion, Greenberg tried to pivot to talking about jobs and the economy, because “from a practical perspective, Roe vs. Wade has decided that issue for now.”

But he went on to say that he believes parents should be involved in decisions about abortions for girls under the age of 18, and that all women should be required to look at a sonogram before getting an abortion.

“I am pro-life. I have said that constantly for the past 5 years,” he said, mentioning the five children he has and multiple miscarriages suffered by his wife. “… I love children and believe that life is precious.”

Esty, a strong advocate for reproductive rights before being elected to Congress, said that the “intensely personal” decision, unequivocally, should be left up to women and be made without interference from the government. She said that Congress has faced numerous votes and policy decisions related to abortion over the past two years, including health care policy as it relates to reproductive rights. So it’s far from an irrelevant issue, she said.

Asked about climate change, Greenberg said he’s “not a scholar” on the issue, but has read things that cause him to doubt whether man-made climate change even exists.

“I’m not convinced that the climate change we have now are not part of the normal cycle. I’m not convinced that things we’re doing ourselves is part of climate change,” he said. “I’m not convinced we’re having that issue right now.”

Esty, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ science committee, said “there is no serious dispute as to whether … human behavior is affecting climate change.”

She blasted Greenberg’s support for offshore drilling, which she said would further contribute to climate change, and his call for investment in “clean coal,” which she called an “oxymoron.”

Esty said she supports an “all of the above” U.S. energy policy that relies on natural gas as a “transitional” source while focusing on investment in renewable energy.

Foreign Policy

Greenberg said that the attack on the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan city of Benghazi is just one example of Obama’s “failed presidency.” He said he “can’t wait for that day” when Obama’s term is over, and said that if Republicans win control of both houses of Congress Nov. 4, “Stalemate might be OK for two years while we wait for the end of his term.”

“We were lied to, and it was a terrorist attack, and it was obvious that it was one of the administration’s many attempts to lie to us,” Greenberg said of Benghazi. “Obama doesn’t listen to his military men … he does what he wants.”

Esty said that one of the problems exposed by the Benghazi attack is America’s over-reliance on private contractors to do the work that American military personnel who “swear an oath to this country” should be doing.

School Lunches

Greenberg went so far as to criticize First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch initiative.

“I have five children. They eat what they want to eat,” he said, which sometimes “includes cookies.” If they are forced to eat healthy foods they don’t want to eat, “they won’t eat at all,” he said. “We’re going to see a lot of these foods in the lunch box at the end of the day.”

Esty said that for many children, the best meals they’ll get in a week are the ones they’re served in public schools. She cited anecdotes from some school nurses who reported the number of kids calling in sick dropping in half after school lunches were made healthier. She said she’d like to see a push for more locally produced food to be incorporated into school lunches, and a greater emphasis to be made on more exercise for public school children.

Personal Attacks

Matt DeRienzo photo Although Tuesday night’s event was “forum”-style, not a debate where Esty and Greenberg were allowed to go back-and-forth on each others comments, the conversation turned personal at times.

Esty referenced Greenberg’s personal wealth and said that we can’t have “a Congress of only millionaires.” She suggested that Greenberg’s own finances “contributed” to his views on Social Security. Greenberg favors, and Esty opposes, gradually extending the retirement age from 67 to 70 in order to keep the program solvent. Esty says that will harm many seniors who find themselves out of work and unable to find employment in their late 50s and early 60s.

Greenberg, in turn, talked about how he has worked hard to make his money, creating jobs in the process, instead of “collecting a trust fund check.” That was a possible reference to the money Esty, also a millionaire who ranks in the top 20 percent of wealthiest members of Congress, has received thanks to her father’s business career.

Esty and Greenberg also differed Tuesday in their views on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and raising the federal minimum wage.

Greenberg wants to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” whereas Esty touts what it did for people with pre-existing medical conditions and young people who are now able to stay on their parents’ health insurance during their college years.

Esty supports raising the federal minimum wage, while Greenberg feels states should have wide leeway in dictating it due to widely different costs of living across the country.

Greenberg also described the minimum wage as a “starter” job salary that applies mostly to young people who are learning how to be part of the workforce, while Esty said that statistics show many older workers who are supporting families are earning minimum wage and living in poverty because of it.

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Democratic Party Spends Heavily On Ted Kennedy Jr.

by Kristi Allen | Oct 28, 2014 3:08pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014, State Capitol, Branford, Guilford, Madison

Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register

Ted Kennedy Jr. shakes his Republican opponent, Bruce Wilson’s hand before a debate earlier this month

With the race for governor down to a few percentage points, the state Democratic Party has spent nearly 20 percent of its campaign funds on one candidate: Ted Kennedy Jr. 

Kennedy, the son of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy Sr. and nephew of President John F. Kennedy is running for state senate in the 12th district, which includes Branford, Madison, Guilford, Killingworth, and Durham.

In his first run for public office, Kennedy has had more money made available to him than most General Assembly candidates can ever expect to see. In addition to a $94,690 grant through the Citizen’s Election program, the state Democratic Party has spent $207,000 of the $1.1 million in its state account on his campaign.

The state party’s most recent financial disclosure forms, released Friday, showed that friends, family and business associates of Kennedy have donated tens of thousands of dollars to the state party in the past few months. Associates at Kennedy’s healthcare consulting firm, Marwood Group, donated $20,500 to the party since July.

Democratic party spokesman Devon Puglia said Monday that Democrats have spent so much on Kennedy’s campaign because “this is an important race, in a historically Republican district, with a candidate who has extraordinary potential. We’re not taking any chances with someone who has such a bright future.”

Under the Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, a candidate who takes a public financing grant can only use $2,000 of their own money on their campaign and can’t continue to raise money, but the state party is not limited in how much money it can spend on candidates. That law was changed in 2013.

Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said the impetus behind that change was so the parties could compete with spending by outside groups. Swan said that’s why they pushed for greater disclosure under the law. It was supposed to be a solution to preventing the type of “dark money” being spent by an Ohio group. The group, which does not have to disclose its donors, gave $1.17 million to a PAC affiliated with the Republican Governors Association.

Madison Republican Town Chairman Tom Banisch filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission alleging that what the Democratic Party has done by funneling donations to Kennedy’s campaign is illegal. Last week, the SEEC opened an investigation into the matter, which won’t be resolved until after next Tuesday’s election.

“It is illegal for donors to earmark contributions made to a state central committee for specific candidates, just as it is illegal for the DSCC to make a “quid pro quo” promise to spend earmarked contributions on specific races,” Banisch said Monday.

John Murphy, Kennedy’s campaign manager, dismissed the allegations in Banisch’s complaint Tuesday. He said it “was not a quid pro quo.”

“He’s raised money for the party before,” Murphy said. “The only thing that’s different this year is that he’s a candidate.”

While it’s not unheard of for hundreds of thousands to be spent on state senate races in Connecticut, disclosure laws and the public campaign financing system passed in the wake of the former Gov. John Rowland’s corruption scandal made it far less common.

Kennedy is receiving considerable support from state Democrats, but he’s only the second largest recipient of funds. Gov. Dannel Malloy has received $570,000 from the state party since July. In a distant third place is 8th District state senate candidate Melissa Osborne, who has received $7,000 from the state party. Kennedy and Osborne were the only two Senate candidates to receive money from the party.

“Such treatment of one single candidate above and beyond all other legislators, when numerous other districts are much more competitive and many incumbents are facing tough election challenges, makes one wonder why Kennedy deserves such treatment,” Banisch said Monday in his updated complaint.

Bruce Wilson, Kennedy’s Republican opponent, pointed out that when Kennedy announced his campaign he promised to raise money only from people in the district.

“That promise has been broken plain and simple. Mr. Kennedy this seat is not for sale. Apologize to the people and return their money,” Wilson said Tuesday.

Christine Stuart contributed to this report.

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Helps Malloy With Latino Vote

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 28, 2014 12:23pm
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Posted to: Election 2014

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra

At a Tuesday campaign stop with governor of Puerto Rico, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he is hoping Latino voters make up 7 or 8 percent of the turnout in next week’s gubernatorial election.

Voters will head to the polls next week to choose between Malloy and his 2010 Republican rival, Tom Foley. On Tuesday, Malloy was at the Pan del Cielo bakery in Hartford with Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, meeting with patrons and taking pictures.

“I would love to see the Latino vote represent 7 or 8 percent of the whole voting population. We build it into our models at about 6 percent,” Malloy told reporters. “The governor and I had a conversation today. One of the reasons I asked him to come, and the reason he was willing to come, was to try to drive that percentage up by 1 full percent, maybe 2.”

García Padilla, who addressed the small crowd in both English and Spanish, pointed to a drop in crime and an increase in job growth during Malloy’s tenure as well as his support for the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges.

“The Latino community needs to go out and vote. I’m here to endorse, I’m here to promote, I’m here to ask every Puerto Rican, every Dominican, every Mexican, every Latino go out and vote for Dan Malloy next Tuesday,” he said.

Malloy said García Padilla will visit urban areas of the state where the Latino population is concentrated. After two stops in Hartford Tuesday the two will travel to New Britain, Waterbury, Bridgeport and New Haven.

Malloy’s overwhelming support in the state’s cities was crucial to his narrow victory over Foley in 2010. Malloy defeated Foley by less than half a percentage point and the Republican won support in typically reliably Democratic suburbs.

But Malloy resisted the suggestion that urban communities were more important to his strategy than more rural towns.

“Voters are spread out across 169 municipalities and we’re going to get votes in every single one of them and every vote is equal to another. Obviously, we win about 40 communities, and where you win, you want to win by a lot. The ones you lose, you want to lose by just a few,” Malloy said. He won about 40 cities and towns in the 2010 election.

At a press conference last week, members of the Hispanic Federation complained that Latinos have been ignored this year by Malloy, Foley and unaffiliated candidate Joe Visconti. But all three campaigns say they have made efforts to reach out to the Latino community.

Foley will host former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno Saturday during stops in New Britain and Waterbury. Asked Friday about his outreach efforts, the Republican said he’s done interviews with Univision and is running “Hispanic radio ads.”

“I’ve been in the Bridgeport community and Hartford, a little less, and New Haven, talking to people in the Hispanic community — small business owners,” Foley said. “... I’ve been there quite a bit speaking with people and between now and the election I expect to get back there and walk around.”

The governor rejected Foley’s expectation of closing the traditional Democratic advantage in the state’s cities. Following a brief interview with reporters, García Padilla also took a parting shot at Foley. He picked up on criticism that the wealthy businessman has not had any taxable income since 2010.

“He should say if he’s going to pay taxes next year,” García Padilla said.

Malloy, who had already turned away from reporters, heard the remark. “Oh, hey—there you go!”

According to state officials there are an estimated 149,000 registered Latino voters in Connecticut based on a surname survey. Latino groups believe the number is much higher.

And even though a majority of the registered Latinos are Democrats, there were several Latino groups, including lawmakers, unhappy with Malloy’s decision earlier this year not to house undocumented children fleeing South American countries in state-owned facilities.

A group of Latino activists protested in Bridgeport earlier this month when President Barack Obama was scheduled to stump there for Malloy. The protest stemmed from concerns that the state Correction Department honored a federal detainer request for an undocumented immigrant. The protest went on despite Obama cancelling then rescheduling the trip.

In Hartford Tuesday, Mayor Pedro Segarra picked up on another of the Malloy campaign’s recent themes: that the governor has made decisions that have not been popular with everyone.

“This is a governor that doesn’t always—he’s not always warm and fuzzy because he’s had to make difficult choices, right? But beneath all that is a lot of passion to do really good work on behalf of the people of Connecticut,” he said.

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5th District Notebook: Greenberg Gets Angry About Attack Ads, Airs More Of His Own

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 28, 2014 11:00am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District

Mark Greenberg says attack ads like the DCCC ad shown here are lying about his views on Social Security.

Mark Greenberg is angry about the attack ads Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and outside groups working on her behalf have been airing against him in the race for Connecticut’s 5th District congressional seat.

He lashed out Monday as the two candidates shared a stage before the Cheshire High School student body.

He described a series of ads aired by Esty, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC as “complete fallacy, complete lies.”

“That’s all there is to it,” he said. “I’ve had $2.5 million of complete lies hurled at me.”

A student at the forum asked Esty and Greenberg why politicians seem to rely on negative attack ads instead of talking about their own positions.

“Elections are about choices,” Esty said. “The two of us . . . have very different views. Part of what you do is draw that contrast.”

Esty cited a 12-year-old video of her speaking “as a PTA mom” at a Cheshire budget hearing that Greenberg has incorporated into an attack ad, and said it’s also fair game for her to use video of him talking about Social Security.

The Hartford Courant has described Greenberg’s ad as “somewhat misleading.” It labeled one of Esty’s ads on Greenberg’s position on Social Security as “dramatically misleading” and “false.”

“This is a clear choice, and it’s a choice between an honest candidacy, and a dishonest candidacy, frankly,” Greenberg told students. “The bottom line is we have a very nasty campaign where lies are hurled at me. That should stop. She should take down her ads. They are very misleading. They’re wrong. They’re false.”

Greenberg says he’s been outspent by Esty and outside groups working for her by about $4.5 million to $1.6 million.

“The money is pernicious in these races . . . It’s gotten completely out of control. These groups come in and they put absolute, total lies on TV. We have to change that. We have to change that right now,” he said. “We need to reform the way these races are run. We shouldn’t allow slander, which this is. Otherwise, we’re not going to get good people to run for office.”

Esty said she supports federal public financing of congressional campaigns, similar to Connecticut’s “clean elections” program. It would be “a better system that would help reduce the ads,” she said.

Meanwhile, Greenberg unveiled a new attack ad Monday targeting Esty’s voting record in Congress, attempting to tie her to “Obamacare,” the Veterans Affairs hospital scandal, “terrorism,” “Ebola” and President Obama.

NEWSPAPERS FLIP TO ESTY: Sister newspapers, the New Haven Register and The Register Citizen of Torrington, endorsed Elizabeth Esty’s re-election bid Tuesday after backing her Republican opponent, Andrew Roraback, two years ago.

The New Haven Register covers Esty’s hometown of Cheshire, while The Register Citizen circulates in a number of the 5th District’s rural Litchfield County communities.

In endorsing Esty, the newspapers said she “has found her footing during her two years in office,” providing leadership following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown and an epidemic of heroin overdose deaths in Torrington.

Editors also said they “respect Esty’s willingness to take a moderate stance on most issues while talking to her constituents and doing the research necessary to form an opinion prior to making a vote.”

While the newspapers praised Greenberg for having the courage to change his position on universal background checks in the face of bullying from the National Rifle Association, they said, “Greenberg’s tendencies are just too far right for us to put our endorsement behind him.”

So far, in addition to the New Haven Register and Register Citizen, Esty has won the endorsement of the Hartford Courant, while Greenberg has been endorsed by the Republican-American of Waterbury.

CITY TURNOUT FEARS: Strong voter turnout in heavily Democratic Meriden and New Britain swung a very close 5th District congressional race to Elizabeth Esty two years ago. Since then, somehow, both cities have elected Republican mayors. Esty is reminding party activists every chance she gets of the bad things that can happen for Democrats if there is low voter turnout in urban areas.

Esty won New Britain and Meriden by a combined 14,000 votes in 2012, by a 3-to-1 margin and 2-to-1 margin, respectively, over Roraback. She won the entire election by only 8,000 votes.

It was a presidential election year, former 5th District Congressman Chris Murphy was running for an open U.S. Senate seat, and turnout was 64 percent in Meriden and 63 percent in New Britain.

The previous election, when Murphy won re-election in 2010, only 48 percent of voters turned out in Meriden and 43 percent in New Britain.

Granted, local, nonpartisan issues come into play during municipal elections, but in 2013 when Republicans Erin Stewart and Manny Santos were elected mayor in New Britain and Meriden, turnout was only 38 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

GREENBERG FEARS ANOTHER 9/11: Mark Greenberg said at a candidates’ forum at Cheshire High School Monday that President Obama and Esty aren’t going far enough in supporting military action against ISIS, the Iraq and Syria terrorist group that has beheaded American and British journalists and aid workers.

Esty supports the president’s air strikes against ISIS, but is opposed to sending in U.S. ground troops and voted against arming and training “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight the organization.

Greenberg also is wary of using ground troops, but believes that if the country doesn’t do more to eliminate ISIS, we will see them carry out a 9/11-like attack on American soil. “They’ve said they want to raise their flag over the White House,” he said. “They want to kill us . . . I do not think they can just get along with people. Their religious beliefs force them to kill people who are not like them.”

It started, he said, with the U.S. withdrawing troops from Iraq. “I think they’ve become stronger because of the ineffectiveness and naïveté of the Obama administration,” he said. “We’ve left a terrible vacuum there and it’s been filled with ISIS.”

Greenberg said the U.S. must improve security and vigilance against possible terrorists within its own country. “Our borders are sieves,” he said. “We allow people right now to foment with terrorism right within our borders.”

FIREFIGHTERS BACK ESTY: The Waterbury firefighters’ union has endorsed Esty. Her campaign says she has worked in Congress to support “robust federal funding for grants like the Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants.”

“Elizabeth Esty has worked with us on issues that directly affect public safety. She has made an extra effort to work with us directly to improve the services we provide our communities,” said Jon Schultz, president of the Waterbury Fire Fighters Association.

GREENBERG AVOIDS WNPR: Greenberg won’t be appearing on WNPR’s “Where We Vote” series where candidates sit down with John Dankosky for an hour to talk about their candidacy. The station confirmed Tuesday that Greenberg’s campaign has declined repeated attempts to schedule an appearance. Greenberg sparked controversy during an unsuccessful run in the Republican primary for the 5th District two years ago when he appeared on the program and described Islam as “cult-like” and more violent a religion than Christianity or Judaism.

Esty appeared on “Where We Vote” in July. The station said she declined through her campaign to make a second appearance for the general election unless Greenberg agreed to appear as well.

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Which Pols Took The FOI Pledge?

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 28, 2014 9:51am
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Posted to: Election 2014, FOIA, Transparency

Courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of Justice Comptroller Kevin Lembo and petitioning gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti were among the 10 percent of Connecticut candidates who have signed a pledge to support the Freedom of Information Act, according to an open government advocacy group.

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information mailed letters to 360 candidates, asking them to oppose weakening the state’s public document disclosure law and to require public hearings for any attempts to change the law.

About 10 percent have chosen to sign it.

“This is new on Connecticut’s political landscape and I’m not surprised that many politicians have so far delayed signing the pledge,” James Smith, the group’s president, said in a statement Monday.

According to Smith, Lembo, who has pushed for government transparency during his first term, responded to the letter with “where do I sign?” Visconti, an unaffiliated candidate for governor, signed and promised to “streamline the FOI process by making access to information more timely and more easily accessible.”

Neither Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nor his Republican opponent Tom Foley have signed the pledge. Malloy’s campaign told CTNewsJunkie he would sign the document, but has not done so yet. Meanwhile, Foley said he supports FOI, but does not sign pledges.

Democrats and Republicans in legislative races have signed in roughly equal numbers, Smith said. He said it was significant that a number of incumbents in leadership positions have signed on, including Sen. Joan Hartley and Reps. Peggy Sayers, Bob Godfrey, Elissa Wright, and Mary Fritz.

Here’s a link to the list of 37 candidates who have signed the pledge since Oct. 29.

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Christie Makes Another Pitch For Foley

by Christine Stuart | Oct 27, 2014 8:28pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Groton

Christine Stuart photo

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Republican Tom Foley

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made his fourth trip to Connecticut in six weeks Monday to stump for Republican Tom Foley.

“Tom and I started on a job four years ago and we’re going to finish this job with eight days left. Dan Malloy I hope you’re listening, your days are numbered,” Christie told Foley supporters at a beer garden in Groton.

Christie, who is the head of the Republican Governors Association, will spend the next eight days stumping for Republican gubernatorial candidates in 18 states.

Christie spent most of the day Monday with Rick Scott in Florida and is headed to Maine Tuesday to stump for Maine Gov. Paul LePage. The RGA has spent $18 million on Scott’s race in Florida, according to the Herald Tribune, and $6.7 million on Foley in Connecticut.

Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, according to this Politico article, is not happy that the RGA has only given him $8 million. He told Politico he needs more money for television ads to stay competitive with his Democratic challenger, who has had both former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama visit that state on her behalf.

Sound familiar?

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who polls show is in a dead heat with Foley, hosted a rally with Clinton earlier this month and plans to attend a rally with Obama two days before the election.

Unlike Walker, Foley, who received $6.5 million in public financing, said he’s very happy to have Christie’s support.

Asked about how he views the race in Connecticut, Christie said he doesn’t agree with the premise that the needle hasn’t moved in favor of Foley. A recent Quinnipiac University poll show Foley’s favorability rating slip into negative territory for the first time, while Malloy’s unfavorables stayed about the same.

“I think the needle is moving here and you’re going to see it on Nov. 4,” Christie told reporters Monday. “I just see different things than you’re seeing right now because I’m not allowed to coordinate with the Foley campaign. I’d have to make Foley leave the room.”

Christie said the numbers he’s seeing are favorable, but he declined to offer more detail.

“I’m seeing different things. I like what I’m seeing,” Christie added. “I think on Election Day you’re going to see Tom Foley win this race.”

Christie, who has had an ongoing rivalry with Malloy, described the governor as “an angry guy.”

He said when someone does something well you compliment them. Christie said he complimented Malloy on his response to the Newtown school shooting.

“That’s leadership,” Christie said. “What Dan Malloy does is just play partisan angry politics.”

He added that “if that’s what the people of Connecticut want, then that’s what they’ve gotten for the last four years.”

Malloy supporters stood across the street from the Groton restaurant Monday chanting “Christie is corrupt.”

“Campaigning with Chris Christie in Connecticut yet again shows just how little Tom Foley cares about the issues facing Connecticut’s working families,” Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4, said. “This is the same governor who says that he’s ‘sick and tired’ of hearing about raising the minimum wage and consistently sides with the interests of rich guys like Tom Foley over improving the quality of life for thousands of hard working people in New Jersey. We certainly don’t need that level of contempt for working and middle-class families here in Connecticut.”

Asked by a reporter from France if he was considering a presidential bid, Christie said he’s focused on getting Republican governors elected and at the beginning of next year, “we’ll make a decision whether to run for president or not.”

“I haven’t been coy about it,” Christie said of his interest in the position. “. . . There’s no reason to make a decision before next year.”

Meanwhile, the New Jersey news media traveled to Groton to get Christie’s reaction to a lawsuit filed by a healthcare worker who was quarantined by the governor.

Christie was asked to explain what he meant by in-home quarantine for those returning from West Africa.

“If someone is asymptomatic they can be quarantined in their home,” Christie said. “If they become symptomatic, then they need to move to a healthcare facility in New Jersey or a Tier 1 facility in Atlanta or Nebraska.”

Christie said it was not as complicated as the news media was making it.

Last week, Foley tried to walk back the tone he used in a radio interview when asked about Malloy’s handling of Ebola in Connecticut.

“I actually support what the governor did a few weeks ago, which was to prepare the public health organization we have in this state for a potential infection from Ebola. And I support the quarantine program,” Foley said Friday.

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Latinos Refuse To Be Ignored

by Christine Stuart | Oct 27, 2014 4:00pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Health Care, Jobs, Labor, Local Politics, Poverty, State Capitol

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Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation

Members of the Latino community gathered at the state Capitol last week to let the three gubernatorial candidates know they represent 14 percent of the state’s population and will not be ignored.

“At the end of the day we are going to decide what the next governor and the next General Assembly looks like,” Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation, said last Thursday.

According to the U.S. Census there are more than 500,000 Latino residents in Connecticut. However, figuring out how many of those residents are registered voters is a little tricky.

State officials estimate there are 110,000 to 149,000 registered Latino voters in the state, based on a survey of surnames.

Ingrid Alvarez-DiMarzo, head of the Hispanic Federation in Connecticut, said she believes there are far more Latino voters than the 149,000 reported by the state.

She said she’s not counted as a Latino voter because DiMarzo doesn’t fall into the surnames used to estimate the number of registered voters.

“It’s very subjective, not objective,” Alvarez-DiMarzo said. “. . . That is a gross under-representation of how many Latino voters are in the state.”

Alvarez-DiMarzo said she feels all three gubernatorial candidates have ignored her community both in campaigning at the grassroots level and with paid advertisements.

“They haven’t been present enough in our communities. They need to do more,” Calderon said.

However, all three gubernatorial campaigns feel they are paying attention to the needs of the Latino community.

“Each day across the state, we are engaging Latino families, at the doors, over the phones, and through paid media,” Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said.

He said Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a $10.10 minimum wage bill, the DREAM Act — which allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges — and legislation that will give undocumented immigrants an opportunity to obtain a drivers license.

As part of its outreach to the Latino community, Malloy is bringing in Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Javier García Padilla on Tuesday. Puerto Ricans make up 55 percent of Connecticut’s total Latino population.

On Saturday, former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno will visit New Britain and Waterbury with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.

On Friday, Foley said he, too, is paying attention to the Latino community.

He said he’s done interviews with Univision and is running “Hispanic radio ads.”

“I’ve been in the Bridgeport community and Hartford, a little less, and New Haven, talking to people in the Hispanic community — small business owners,” Foley said.

Third-party candidate Joe Visconti said he’s spending time in urban areas and was the only candidate to attend the first annual independence ball for the Dominican Republic in January.

He said he’s filled out several questionnaires sent by Latino groups to his campaign, but he hates to pander. He also was apologetic for not having a Spanish-language version of his website available to voters.

But regardless of those efforts, the Hispanic Federation said the candidates haven’t been present enough in Latino communities.

“They need to do more,” Calderon said.

Specifically, the Hispanic Federation, which includes 11 local organizations, released a list of 125 recommendations for Connecticut’s next governor.

The recommendations include ways the state can better support Latino-centered nonprofit organizations, improving education, supporting healthy lifestyles by recognizing serious health disparities exist between Latinos and the general population, helping new immigrants “integrate, and contribute and succeed in Connecticut,” and improve economic security through a number of job programs.

The federation plans to remind 100,000 Latino voters to turn out and vote on Nov. 4.

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Top Priority For Esty, Greenberg? Gun Control, Term Limits

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 27, 2014 1:26pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Cheshire

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Mark Greenberg speaks to students at a Cheshire High School candidate forum Monday morning as 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty looks on.

CHESHIRE — As one might expect, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Mark Greenberg, her Republican challenger, talk a lot about creating jobs and fixing the economy. But they each had a different answer when Cheshire High School students asked them Monday what their single most important issue would be if they are elected on Nov. 4.

Esty said she would focus on tightening federal gun restrictions, while Greenberg said he would strongly advocate for term limits on members of Congress.

“It’s not an issue I chose, but it’s an issue that chose our state and our congressional district,” Esty said, citing the December 2012 murders of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Greenberg, criticizing the money spent on negative attack ads against him by Esty and outside groups working on her behalf, said that something has to be done about politicians who get into office and “immediately start working on getting re-elected instead of working for the voters.”

Matt DeRienzo photo A table with the banner of the Cheshire High School Young Democrats stood on one side of the stage and a table with the banner of the Cheshire Young Republicans stood on the other as the entire student body was gathered inside the school’s auditorium to hear from the candidates. It was organized “forum”-style, with no opportunity for Esty or Greenberg to respond to each others’ answers.

Esty represented the town as a state legislator and town councilor and was active in the PTA in Cheshire. She asked students to think about the 30,000 people who die in the U.S. each year from gun violence and how that’s bigger than the population of their town.

“It would be as if this entire community died . . . killed with a gun,” she said.

Matt DeRienzo photo Esty repeated her call for adoption of a federal universal background check law that would close loopholes for online sales and gun shows, as well as banning “straw purchases” of guns and making the interstate transportation of illegal guns a felony.

She said that Americans can change laws and attitudes about guns in the way that Mothers Against Drunk Driving changed the laws and culture around drinking and driving.

“We’ve done this before. We did this with drunk driving . . . Some moms got really frustrated with the law, with the politicians, with the car companies,” she said, and drunken driving deaths have been cut in half since MADD was founded, from more than 21,000 in 1980 to 10,322 in 2012.

She criticized Greenberg for not answering whether he would support a universal background check law she has co-sponsored. Greenberg surprised many in the candidates’ first campaign debate a few weeks ago by saying he agreed with Esty on universal background checks, but he’s been reluctant to get into the specifics. Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which has endorsed him, has said he believes Greenberg will oppose the law after he hears from gun rights organizations in Washington about all of its ramifications.

Greenberg told the Cheshire students that he’s a different kind of candidate because he’s not aiming to make a career out of serving in Congress.

“We have to have term limits. We have to make everyone know they’re there for a limited period of time,” he said. “I would be a champion of term limits.”

Greenberg thinks U.S. House members should serve no more than eight years, and favors converting terms from two to four years so that a congressman would run for re-election only once and then leave office.

He said that Esty and groups working on her behalf, including House Majority PAC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have spent $4.5 million on the campaign, to his $1.6 million.

“These groups come in and put absolute lies on TV,” he said.

Laura Maloney, Esty’s campaign spokeswoman, said that she’s opposed to Greenberg’s four-year term proposal and that she is “skeptical about unintended consequences of term limits, such as empowering lobbyists and political insiders rather than ordinary citizens.”

Both candidates said Monday they are opposed to the idea of moving to a federal “flat tax” that would have all Americans paying the same percentage tax rate on income. Both said the tax code must be simplified and reformed.

Greenberg wants a lower corporate tax rate, and believes that would spur economic development and eventually lead to higher overall tax revenue.

“If the rates are lower, there would be more money coming in, so it would be a win-win situation,” he said.

Esty said she wants to close loopholes and incentives that are leading to big profits for oil companies and other industries.

“GE should not be able to make more money hiring 950 tax lawyers (to find loopholes) than 5,000 engineers,” she said. “We’ve allowed that system to develop.”

They disagreed on a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage.

Similar to the argument she makes for spreading Connecticut’s paid sick leave law to the rest of the country, Esty said the federal law needs to change so that businesses won’t move jobs from Connecticut to states with a cheaper labor force.

“It is really hard in this country to raise a family on the minimum wage,” she said. “No one should be working a 40-hour work week and raising their children in poverty.”

Greenberg said that he defaults to the Constitution’s call for states to be able to make their own laws. He said that makes sense in the case of the minimum wage because Connecticut is a much more expensive place to live than some other states.

He downplayed the impact of the minimum wage, though, saying that, “Minimum wage jobs are not the end of a career, they are the beginning of a career.”

Both candidates expressed concern about too much testing being required in public schools, but Greenberg came out strongly against federal “Common Core” education standards.

“I am dead set against Common Core,” he said. “The best education is defined at the local level.”

Esty said that having standards are important because the quality of education in every school system is not as good as it is in Cheshire.

She sympathized, though, with complaints about over-testing. “We are in danger of crushing an interest in learning . . . when teachers spend so much time filling out paperwork and checking off boxes,” she said.

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Second Amendment Activists Call On Gun Owners To ‘Recall’ Malloy

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 27, 2014 12:32pm
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Posted to: Election 2014

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Scott Wilson

Connecticut Second Amendment advocates are looking to replicate the success of a 2013 recall campaign in Colorado that ousted two state lawmakers. Its organizer appeared in Hartford on Monday to rally gun owners against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Members of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group that boasts nearly 16,000 members, gathered on the steps of the state Capitol on Monday for a press conference calling on supporters to turn out to the polls during next week’s election.

Malloy’s defeat has been a priority for the group since the passage of sweeping gun control restrictions following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Scott Wilson, CCDL’s president, lamented that Connecticut’s constitution does not permit recall elections.

“What we do have is Election Day. Therefore, let us make Nov. 4, 2014, to be Connecticut’s recall election. Let’s finally end this bad chapter in our state’s history and remove Dan Malloy from office,” Wilson said.

CCDL brought in Timothy Knight, a gun rights activist who spearheaded the successful recall of two Colorado state senators who voted in favor of a gun control law.

Hugh McQuaid Photo “They said we were wasting our time, that it was impossible, that we were politically green — an undisciplined mob. But we beat the likes of Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, and even Bill Clinton made a robocall for little tiny state senate races in Colorado. But we won anyways,” Knight told the group.

His comments have some parallels in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race. A PAC founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has helped pay for $1.7 million in television ads supporting Malloy and former President Bill Clinton has twice appeared at rallies for the governor.

But here in Connecticut, the narrative gets more complicated than a simple effort to unseat an incumbent. The pro-Second Amendment vote may end up split between Tom Foley, a Republican running against Malloy for a second time, and Joe Visconti, a Republican-turned-unaffiliated candidate who collected thousands of signatures and petitioned his way onto the ballot.

CCDL has endorsed Foley as the candidate with the best chance of defeating Malloy. The two major party candidates have been essentially deadlocked in recent public polls. But Foley’s position on the gun control law has been vague. He has declined to call for a repeal of the bill, but has said he would sign a repeal in the unlikely event the state legislature passes one.

Meanwhile, Visconti, who is polling at 9 percent, has been more specific. He’s called for repealing provisions of last year’s gun control law, including its expanded assault-weapons clause and its ban on large-capacity magazines. Visconti collected many of the signatures that got him on the ballot from customers at local gun shops.

During a debate last week, Malloy encouraged gun rights advocates to support Visconti over Foley.

“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,” he said.

Knight and Sean Maloney, a gun rights activist from Ohio, declined to weigh in on who Connecticut Second Amendment supporters should choose.

“Our message isn’t picking and choosing between one candidate or the other because that’s not our fight. Our fight is to make sure that we, as patriots . . . at least make sure we do the right thing and exercise the rights that have been given to us,” Maloney said. “Tim and I are here to let you know that you have the ability to change and make a difference.”

Knight agreed they wanted gun owners to head to the polls.

“If you sit home, only tyranny wins and your voice is lost. So, whoever you vote for — just vote. Get out and vote. They’re your rights,” he said.

Wilson said he was confident gun owners would follow CCDL’s lead and cast ballots for Foley next week.

“They get it. They fully understand that [Visconti] can’t win and all he’s going to do is incite another Malloy” victory, Wilson said. “. . . I think a lot of the Second Amendment vote is looking to us as an organization for judgment guidelines and leadership.”

Wilson said CCDL members planned to be out in their communities, knocking on doors to support their endorsed candidates during the coming week.

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ANALYSIS | Moderate Esty Appeals To Liberals, Or Liberal Esty Appeals To Moderates?

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 27, 2014 7:30am
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Posted to: Analysis, Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Southington, Waterbury

Elizabeth Esty speaks in a 2012 debate with Democratic primary rivals Dan Roberti and Chris Donovan.


On a recent day on the campaign trail, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty sat down with the board of the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce. She talked about helping businesspeople work through some federal regulations that could be eased for them.

Twenty minutes later, she took the podium at the Connecticut Service Employees Union International convention at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, where she railed against wealthy business owners who put profit above workers and how the government must do more to regulate them.

Esty, in a battle with Litchfield real estate developer Mark Greenberg as she seeks re-election to a second term Nov. 4, is viewed by the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party in Connecticut as a moderate-to-conservative Democrat who has veered to the left on some issues in order to solidify the base.

She’s viewed by conservative Republicans as a far-left liberal who has shrewdly cast some votes against her party in order to win re-election in Connecticut’s most conservative congressional district.

The progressive blog My Left Nutmeg still refers to Esty as a “DINO” — Democrat in Name Only” — and frequently mentions her in connection to former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was eventually reviled by Democrats for his conservative votes and associations with Republicans. The conservative Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, in endorsing Greenberg, said Esty’s campaign is full of “far-left boilerplate” that is “out of step with her moderate district.”

In speaking to business groups, Esty touts her involvement in “No Labels,” a bipartisan organization of moderate Democratic and Republican lawmakers. She voted with Republicans to weaken the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And she also split from the rest of her party in backing an investigation of the IRS’s treatment of conservative nonprofit organizations.

But on key issues important to labor — paid sick leave, for example — she has moved to the left.

Esty won a bitter Democratic primary two years ago against former House Speaker Chris Donovan, a hero of Connecticut’s labor unions and most liberal Democrats.

And although she won its nominal endorsement for a general election in which she barely squeaked by former state Sen. Andrew Roraback, labor’s formidable corps of get-out-the-vote volunteers did not put in the work they traditionally have for other Democratic candidates.

It’s different this time, and Lindsay Farrell, director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, says it’s because Esty has put actions behind assurances she gave labor leaders following the 2012 primary.

“Now we have a record of her in Congress being strong on many of (our) issues . . . It’s actually pretty great,” Farrell said. “We’ve been out knocking on doors for her.”

Farrell’s organization had to overcome significant opposition from members in endorsing Esty two years ago. This year, there was little debate. And the Working Families Party went so far last week as to file a Federal Elections Commission complaint against Esty’s opponent.

Farrell said it wasn’t just labor’s love for Donovan that made support for Esty difficult in 2012. Progressives were angry that as a state representative from Cheshire, she voted against a bill that would have required Connecticut companies to offer paid sick leave to employees. A version of the bill eventually became state law.

Esty had changed her position on paid sick leave before the 2012 primary, but the vote and comments Esty frequently made as a state legislator about protecting business owners gave the unions pause.

“Votes like that and other votes made us wary of her as a candidate,” Farrell said. After the primary, she said labor leaders had some tough questions for Esty: “This is the record you have and we don’t like it. Is this going to be how you are in Congress?”

Since being elected to Congress, Esty has signed on as cosponsor of a bill authored by 3rd District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro that would implement a version of Connecticut’s paid sick leave law at the federal level.

Esty said that one of the reasons she voted against the Connecticut bill is that it would have been used as one more reason for some employers to move out of state so they could abide by more lax and less expensive rules. That is off the table, she said, if it’s applied in all 50 states.

“It really isn’t a change of heart because I firmly believed then and I’ve told people that I think it ought to be a federal policy,” Esty said last week. “It makes sense economically and morally, and from a health policy. Just look what is in the news today.”

Her opponent disagrees.

“I do not believe that we should have paid sick leave legislated at the federal level,” Greenberg said in an email last week. “My belief is that most companies that can afford it voluntarily offer paid sick leave as company policy. For instance, at MGRE Co. LLC, a real estate management company that I founded years ago, our policy was a combination of five days paid sick leave or personal days. In the event that an employee did not use some or all of those days during the year, MGRE would give a bonus to the employee for any unused days. Also, I believe that most companies are still reeling from the effects of the Obamacare mandates, and the effect of legislated sick leave would only retard the company’s return to financial health from these difficult economic times.”

There are sharp contrasts like that between Esty and Greenberg on many issues, and she has been aided in rallying the base this time by a far more conservative opponent. Roraback, a longtime state legislator who worked hard on local issues, was well-liked in Northwest Connecticut even by liberal Democrats. He supported gay marriage and abortion rights, was open to gun control reforms, had a strong record on environmental issues and was an opponent of the death penalty. Greenberg opposes gay marriage and abortion, until recently had a strong rating from the National Rifle Association, and supports the Keystone XL pipeline, offshore drilling, and “clean coal.”

Greenberg’s supporters, dating back to his unsuccessful Republican primary campaigns for the 5th District in 2010 and 2012, say that unlike Esty, he is consistent in his positions and ideology.

“Politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths is usually a cliche, but for Elizabeth Esty it is a trademark,” said Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager. “She runs ads showing support for veterans, but votes against a bill that would cut waiting lines at VA hospitals. She tells the corporations what they want to hear and 10 minutes later, she vilifies them in order to pander to the unions.”

But in a district that has far more independent voters than Republicans or Democrats, even Greenberg has worked during this campaign to show he can see both sides of an issue. The NRA dropped its rating of his candidacy from “A” to “F” after he made a surprise announcement in support of universal background checks. And last week, after initially criticizing Esty for the same position, Greenberg said he was open to raising the limit on income subject to Social Security taxes.

Matt DeRienzo is the former editor of the New Haven Register, Register Citizen, Middletown Press, Connecticut Magazine and other Digital First Media publications in Connecticut and former publisher of The Register Citizen in Torrington. Email him .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter at @mattderienzo.

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.

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Ohio Group Enters Connecticut Governor’s Race With $1.17M Donation

by Christine Stuart | Oct 27, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014, State Capitol, Transparency

istockphoto Why is an Ohio-based group, which gave $1.17 million Saturday to Grow Connecticut, a Republican affiliated Super PAC, interested in the Connecticut’s governor’s race?

It’s still unclear. Calls to David R. Langdon’s law office in West Chester, Ohio, where A Public Voice Inc. is located, were not returned Sunday.

A Public Voice Inc. is a nonprofit, which does not have to disclose its donors.

Liz Kurantowicz, treasurer of Grow Connecticut, which plans to use the money to run television and radio ads against Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said she has no knowledge of their contributors.

According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, Langdon was instrumental in 2004 in getting Ohio to pass a referendum declaring marriage was between a man and a woman.

“Perhaps no one understands better than David Langdon how much heroic effort is being poured into defending marriage against the nationwide onslaughts of the homosexual legal agenda,” the Alliance Defending Freedom website reads.

In Connecticut marriage equality, which was won in 2008, hasn’t been an issue in the race between Malloy and Foley.

Foley was endorsed by the Family Institute of Connecticut, but has not made gay marriage an issue in the race. The Family Institute of Connecticut said it endorsed Foley because of his position on assisted-suicide. Foley denies seeking the endorsement, but said he was happy to have it.

“He’s trying to snipe votes from extremist groups with extremist agendas to roll back the clock for women, on marriage equality, and on so much more,” Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the Democratic Party said Sunday. “This is about the company he keeps — the FIC, Mike Pence, and now this dark money group bent on turning back the clock on marriage equality. If anything shows you that Tom Foley is a risk we cannot afford, this is it.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence stopped at Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford last Thursday for a “private reception.” Foley attended the event, but did not publicize it. The event was held the same day Foley skipped an NBC Connecticut debate with Malloy and third-party challenger Joe Visconti. Pence is the third member of the Republican Governors Association, which has spent nearly $5 million on Connecticut’s race for governor, to visit the state.

But money in politics is bipartisan. It’s pouring into Connecticut’s governor’s race and is benefiting both candidates.

On Saturday, Independence USA PAC, which was founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reported that it would spend $1.7 million on television ads touting the gun safety legislation Malloy championed in 2013.

According to the PACs website it “will support moderates on both sides of the aisle — as well as independents — who have shown a willingness to work in a bi-partisan fashion. It will also target candidates who support — and oppose — efforts to crack down on illegal guns and reform education policy.”

Common Sense Connecticut, another new PAC in favor of gun safety, has received $751,000 from Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, a group founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Giffords visited the state earlier this month, but did not appear with Malloy. The group recently spent about $200,000 on mailers against Foley.

In total, the amount of outside spending this year has eclipsed the amount of spending on the governor’s race just four years ago.

Even though both Malloy and Foley are using the public campaign finance system, each has benefited from outside spending to the tune of about $15 million. Malloy has benefited from about $8.3 million from the PAC affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association and Foley has benefited from about $6.7 million from the PAC affiliated with the Republican Governors Association. That’s in addition to the $6.5 million each candidate receives in public funding.

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5th District Notebook: Small Businesses Back Greenberg

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 26, 2014 1:03pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District

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Mark Greenberg, center, accepts the endorsement of the Connecticut chapter of the NFIB on Thursday as state director Andrew Markowski, left, and Maria Bernacki of Sir Speedy Printing of New Britain look on.

NEW BRITAIN — The Connecticut chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses has endorsed Republican Mark Greenberg in his race against first-term 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.

Greenberg has run a commercial real estate development business for years, and has an NFIB bumper sticker on his car.

“We look at it through the lens of who is pro-small business,” said Andrew Markowski, NFIB’s state director. “Mark knows what it’s like to make a payroll, deal with regulations and taxes.”

Esty voted the way NFIB wanted on only two of 10 matters that came before her in the U.S. House of Representatives over the past two years. That was better than the rest of the Connecticut House delegation, which received a 0 percent rating from NFIB.

In addition to Greenberg, the Connecticut chapter of NFIB has endorsed Republican Dan Debicella‘s bid to unseat incumbent 4th District Congressman Jim Himes, and Republican Tom Foley‘s campaign against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Maria Bernacki, who hosted an announcement of the endorsement at the Sir Speedy Printing business she owns on Main Street in New Britain, said that it keeps getting tougher for small businesspeople in Connecticut. She said Greenberg would be “a stronger voice for small business.”

In accepting the endorsement, Greenberg said he would fight to relieve businesses of the “burdens of Obamacare” and work to reform regulations and a tax code that have businesses fleeing the state.

“We can’t deal with a crazy tax code that changes every year or every two years,” he said. “We need stability.”

REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ENDORSES GREENBERG: The Republican-American newspaper of Waterbury, which has wide circulation in the 5th District, endorsed Mark Greenberg on Sunday. The newspaper said that Greenberg’s long experience as a businessman would put him in the best position to help improve the nation’s economy. It complimented his support for overhauling the tax code, offshore drilling, “clean coal” and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and his opposition to Obamacare. The endorsement criticized Greenberg’s recent “flip-flopping” on certain issues and his “reluctance to speak with reporters,” but said that he would be a better congressman than the “far-left” Elizabeth Esty, who is “out of step with most residents of her moderate district.” The newspaper also said that “Rep. Esty’s integrity is questionable.” “She has run a television advertisement that distorts Mr. Greenberg’s views on Social Security by cutting and pasting video clips,” it said.

COURANT ENDORSES ESTY: The Hartford Courant endorsed Elizabeth Esty’s re-election bid on Friday, calling her “a bright and hardworking representative who is learning to use her office to help the district.” It praised her for being a “stickler for constituent services” and a “pragmatist” who isn’t afraid to split from her Democratic colleagues on key votes. The newspaper called Esty’s attacks on Greenberg over Social Security this year an “uncharacteristic and unfortunate misstep.”

In passing over Greenberg, the Courant said his “views are too close to those of the obstructionist wing of the GOP.”

GREENBERG WRITES ANOTHER CHECK: Mark Greenberg has loaned his campaign another $350,000, the CT Mirror reports. It brings his total campaign account to $1.8 million, about $1 million less than Elizabeth Esty has raised. All but $300,000 of Greenberg’s funding was loaned by him to the campaign.

CORPORATE TAXES: Greenberg is calling for a reduction in the federal corporate tax rate, saying it would be a key step in preventing U.S. companies from moving overseas.

Greenberg said the current rate of 30 percent should be reduced to “the high teens or low 20s.”

Elizabeth Esty’s campaign spokeswoman, Laura Maloney, said that Esty would be open to considering a reduction in the corporate tax rate as long as it was part of a “comprehensive” reform package that “overhauls our tax code.”

GREENBERG WORRIES ABOUT EBOLA: Greenberg, who previously called for a travel ban from affected West African countries, and then the resignation of Center for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden, continues to make Ebola an issue in his campaign for the 5th Congressional District seat.

He said that a case of Ebola diagnosed Thursday in New York City should concern the 5th District because of residents who commute from Danbury.

“I am concerned by this first case in our nation’s largest city, as well as its potential impact on the 5th District: many residents of Danbury, Brookfield, Newtown and the surrounding area commute to New York City every day for work,” he said. “I have consistently outpaced my opponent in demanding accountability from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and calling for tough measures like a temporary travel ban. Today I reiterate that call. I also call on the CDC to establish a 21-day quarantine period for any health workers coming from the afflicted region, as “numerous” local and state officials have done. And I ask Elizabeth Esty to stand up for the 5th District and do the same.”

COURANT RAPS ATTACK ON ESTY: The Hartford Courant’s Matt Kauffman has rated Greenberg’s latest TV ad as “somewhat misleading.” In the ad Greenberg, accuses Esty of supporting “higher Social Security taxes.” Kauffman says that leads voters to believe that she supports an increase in the Social Security tax rate of 6.2 percent. That’s not what Esty is proposing. She’s supporting an increase in the $117,000 cap on income subject to Social Security taxes.

The ad, incidentally, started airing on Connecticut television on Tuesday, the same day Greenberg said in a Waterbury debate that he would support the same income cap increase for which his ad attacks her.

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Profs: Malloy Could Shine In Ebola Preparations, But Risks Politicizing Public Health Scare

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 24, 2014 5:42pm
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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s strict Ebola prevention protocols could resonate with voters but he and Democrats may walk a fine line between promoting responsible policy and politicizing a public health scare, two political science professors said Friday.

There have been no cases of Ebola in Connecticut and only one death from the virus in the United States. The chances of contracting Ebola are very low. Transfer of the virus requires direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, according to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention.

However, the virus is on the minds of many people. The potential for an outbreak has received extensive media coverage and Friday brought news of a confirmed case of Ebola in nearby New York City.

On Friday, Malloy noted that under public health protocols he has enacted by executive action, the person diagnosed in New York would have already been under quarantine if he had been in Connecticut.

“I think we have the right program here in Connecticut. That’s why I acted three weeks ago to be ready for that. I think each one of these cases will allow certain lessons to be learned. I’m confident we’ve learned some of these lessons already,” he said.

Voters may agree with him. A poll released last year suggested that 67 percent of voters believe Malloy handles a crisis well. Those are high marks for the first-term Democrat who is seeking re-election in 11 days and has never reached a 50 percent approval rating in a public poll.

“One of the governor’s strong points has been his handling of crises. Blizzards, hurricanes and his handling of Newtown. This gives him opportunity to show that he is a good manager in terms of keeping the state ready to deal with potential and real crises,” Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said in an interview.

Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University, said the recent press conference in which Malloy announced the public health protocols gave voters a welcome reprieve from what has been a highly-negative campaign between Malloy and his Republican opponent, Tom Foley.

“The governor scores political points by not trying to score political points. He gets credit more easily, even from his opponents, by just doing his job and doing it for everyone in the state,” he said.

For the most part, Malloy has done that. Asked Friday whether he felt the issue would impact the election, the governor said he did not know.

“I’ve been asked to manage a lot of emergencies in the course of the four years I’ve been governor. This is one that I’ve stepped up,” Malloy said.

But he couldn’t resist the temptation to score at least one political point by reminding a reporter that Foley appeared to deride his executive action in an an interview.

“You know, Tom Foley laughed when I signed the executive order. He actually laughed, saying that the nearest case was 1,700 miles away — why was I doing this. In retrospect, I was right and he was wrong and people can reach whatever conclusions they want,” he said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo Asked about the interview Friday, Foley denied laughing at Malloy. He said he was responding to a question about Malloy declaring “a state of emergency” over Ebola. In the interview, which was recorded and uploaded to Youtube by the Democratic Party, a host asks Foley about Malloy declaring “a public health emergency.” Foley laughs and accuses Malloy of changing the subject.

However, on Friday Foley said he was supportive of the action’s Malloy has taken.

“I actually support what the governor did a few weeks ago, which was to prepare the public health organization we have in this state for a potential infection from Ebola. And I support the quarantine program,” he said.

Schurin said it has been a challenge for Malloy to highlight his leadership during difficult situations without appearing to politicize them. It’s the same with his handling of concerns about the virus.

“You walk a fine line between creating unwarranted fear and being responsible and prudent,” he said.

The state Democratic Party may have drifted close to that line earlier this week before turning back. The party emailed reporters, advising them of a scheduled Wednesday press conference at the state Capitol, where Democratic lawmakers and nurses would speak to the state’s preparation for Ebola.

“The issue has captivated the nation, and tomorrow at 11 a.m. on the North Steps of the Capitol, legislators and nurses statewide will give an update on our preparedness — and describe what could go wrong with the wrong leadership in charge,” the email read.

The party cancelled the press conference less than two hours before it was scheduled to occur without providing an explanation. Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the party, declined Friday to elaborate on the cancellation.

McLean called the press conference a “dumb” idea and Schurin said its cancellation was a “wise” one.

“There’s no need to play politics with something like this,” McLean said.

Malloy said he expected voters would draw their own conclusions on his handling of the issue.

“Listen, I take issues square-on. I think I was the first governor to act with executive order to declare a medical emergency in our state so that we would have the tools necessary. Then we very rapidly developed a quarantine program much stricter than the federal government, now the federal government is catching up with Connecticut,” he said.

Foley said he did not think voters would will have the state’s public health preparation in mind as they head to the polls on Nov. 4.

“I think people are going to vote on jobs and the economy and taxes and spending,” he said.

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Push Polls With Debunked Claims Used To Attack Greenberg

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 24, 2014 4:10pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Litchfield

Mark Greenberg is crying foul over tactics being used by a variety of Democratic organizations working to support the re-election of 5th District U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty.

The Litchfield Republican, challenging Esty’s bid for a second term, says he has been the victim of “push polls” — telephone calls that spread negative attacks about a candidate under the guise of being a legitimate research survey.

Esty’s campaign has emphatically denied involvement in or knowledge of push polls, but a common narrative has emerged in the way that Esty’s campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Majority PAC, and the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee have attacked Greenberg.

Material used in the “push polls” Greenberg cites mirrors information included in a 99-page “opposition research book” prepared by the DCCC. Some of it has also been used in a voter guide and TV ads aired by the House Majority PAC, the DCCC, and the Esty campaign itself, including a persistent line of attack on Social Security that the Hartford Courant has labeled “false.”

According to the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender, some of the information in that research book was based on the wrong Mark Greenberg and real estate companies with similar names but not connected to the candidate.

One of the push polls that has attacked Greenberg talks about a child being affected by lead paint in one of his buildings. But it was based on faulty DCCC research and was related to a landlord with no connection to Greenberg.

Esty’s campaign and the House Majority PAC both denied involvement in “push polls” in the 5th District. Marc Brumer, a spokesman for the DCCC, would not comment on the organization’s polling operations, and also refused to comment on Lender’s reporting.

“We certainly poll, which is what we use to inform what spending we do in various races and what messages work best,” said Matt Thornton, a House Majority PAC spokesman. “But push polling is not something we spend money on.”

Polling experts say that “message testing” typically includes both pro and con statements about multiple candidates, whereas a “push poll” focuses on one candidate and includes information that’s “uniformly negative.”

Greenberg himself was accused of using push polling to attack former state Sen. Sam Caligiuri in a previous unsuccessful Republican primary bid for the 5th District in 2010.

In denying involvement, Esty and her campaign spokeswoman, Laura Maloney, have criticized push polls as a dirty tactic that is “ineffective” and a “waste of money.”

Push polls are actually against the law in New Hampshire, where Mountain West Research, the firm Greenberg Campaign Manager Bill Evans says is behind some of the push polling used in the 5th District, has been subject to fines.

While unaware of the specific controversy over push polling in the 5th District, Gary Rose, chairman of the political science department at Sacred Heart University, said that it’s hard to believe such tactics could be used by surrogates without a candidate’s knowledge.

“If in fact it’s taking place . . . the candidate has to know about it,” he said. “Any time a push poll is done, it’s coming right out of the headquarters, it’s got to be. And if it’s not coming from headquarters, it’s coming from a group closely associated and coordinating with the campaign . . . you can’t tell me the candidates aren’t being somewhat consulted.”

It would be illegal for a candidate to “coordinate” with independent groups spending money on a congressional race, so campaigns are typically careful to keep PACs supporting them at arms’ length.

Rose called it a “fraudulent law” and said that the shuttling back and forth of key operatives between campaigns and independent groups makes it hard to believe that’s really happening.

For example, Julie Sweet served as campaign manager for Esty’s bid for Congress two years ago and then as her congressional office chief of staff until January of this year. She now works for the DCCC, which prepared the opposition research book on Greenberg and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking him and supporting Esty’s candidacy.

Esty’s campaign rejects this assessment.

“Contrary to Mark Greenberg’s false allegations and other people’s opinions, we had nothing to do with this,” Maloney said. “Our campaign follows all election laws and maintains high internal standards. Mark Greenberg has been running for Congress for six years. He knows full well we have nothing to do with that book, and our campaign would never use push polls and condemns anyone who does. This is just another desperate attempt by Mark Greenberg to distract from his extreme views and questionable business practices.”

Early in this year’s campaign, Esty turned down a Greenberg proposal that would have had both candidates rejecting involvement by outside groups. It was similar to a pledge that Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren abided by in a race for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts two years ago.

Esty said that she couldn’t agree to that when Greenberg has a personal net worth in the tens of millions of dollars and the ability to “self-fund” his campaign. With two weeks left before the election, however, Esty had outspent Greenberg by more than 2 to 1, not including the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on her behalf by the DCCC, House Majority PAC, and the Connecticut state Democratic Party.

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Final Sandy Hook Report May Be Delayed

by Christine Stuart | Oct 24, 2014 3:57pm
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Posted to: Newtown

Hugh McQuaid file photo

Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson

The long anticipated final report of the governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission may be delayed until after the second anniversary of the Newtown school shooting.

Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, who chairs the commission, said since the Child Advocate’s office is close to issuing its report, which “likely includes information of value to the commission,” it might be best to wait.

“It is my opinion that we should continue to move forward, but not finalize anything until we see that report,” Jackson said Friday.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for the Child Advocate’s office to finish its report, which delves into the life of the gunman, Adam Lanza.

Assistant Child Advocate Faith Vos Winkel said Friday that her agency is still two and a half weeks away from a public release of the report.

The Child Fatality Review Board requires the Child Advocate’s office to conduct an investigation and focus on the “mechanism” for the death of the 20 children, which in this case “would be the shooter.”

The report seeks to offer a “greater understanding of the life of the shooter,” to prevent murderous future acts and inform prevention initiatives, Vos Winkel said Friday.

Jackson said it’s likely there’s information of value included in the Child Advocate’s report that the commission currently does not have access to. The commission has spoken privately with the gunman’s father to obtain as much information as they could about his son’s mental health, but Peter Lanza didn’t necessarily have all the records the commission sought.

The state police report released last December detailed some of Lanza’s visits to the Yale Child Studies Center where he was evaluated by Dr. Robert King and later by Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Kathleen Koenig.

The commission, which has been studying the state’s response to the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults, is attempting to develop recommendations regarding mental health services, school security, and gun control.

As part of that process its been talking to victims families and debated Friday about when it would be appropriate to hold a public hearing to solicit even more information from the Newtown community.

But the commission decided that anything between Nov. 14 and the end of December would not be appropriate due to the proximity of the second anniversary.

“We’re approaching an anniversary and for many people in Newtown that anniversary starts well before 12.14,” former Rep. Chris Lyddy of Newtown said.

Jackson said since they don’t have direct access to the victims families it’s unclear if all the families who wanted to speak to the commission have been able. He said these are families who have likely been bombarded with information and “if they missed that one piece of paper on Town of Hamden stationary, they have the potential to be left out.”

He said he wants to make sure “everyone who was directly impacted by this tragedy who wants to participate in our process knows that they can.”

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OP-ED | Here Are The Facts, Malloy’s Economic Record Is A Strong One

by Sean Goldrick | Oct 24, 2014 2:10pm
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Posted to: Economics, Election 2014, Jobs, Opinion, State Budget

In the old TV detective series Dragnet, Jack Webb’s Detective Joe Friday was famous for saying, “Just the facts, ma’am.”  So channeling my inner Jack Webb, here are the facts.

A recent Hearst editorial asked, “[Gov.] Malloy disputes a $2.3 billion deficit projected over the two years beginning in fiscal year 2016, saying that it includes assumed taxes he would not raise. But what would he do to whittle that deficit?”

Here’s the answer. First, the Office of Fiscal Analysis’ projection is based on the absurd notion that Malloy would increase spending by 7.8 percent. The four budgets Malloy has proposed and passed averaged increases of less than 2.8 percent. The current year’s budget increased spending just 2.4 percent. So the suggestion that any spending increase will nearly triple next year is nonsense.

Further, in an interview with the Connecticut Mirror, Malloy said exactly how he would deal with those projected increases: “State agencies routinely are asked to make do without any inflationary funding bump. Similarly, analysts count some mandated increases in town aid that legislatures and governors routinely waive year after year. OFA counts contractually obligated pay raises for workers, but doesn’t consider that the governor might freeze vacant posts to offset those costs.”

Through these and other efficiencies, he would “whittle the deficit to less than $400 million.”

During the gubernatorial debates, Tom Foley claimed that during Malloy’s tenure, Connecticut’s economy has grown only 1 percent. Not true, says Fred Carstensen, professor of economics at the University of Connecticut and director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis.

Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis According to Carstensen’s analysis, during the last three years under Gov. Malloy, Connecticut’s economy grew at a stronger rate (+4.07 percent) than every state in the Northeast region except Massachusetts (+4.21 percent).

Read the rest of Sean’s op-ed at the Greenwich Post.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This op-ed was originally posted at the Greenwich Post. Goldrick is a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

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.

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OP-ED | Black Conservative Leaders Talk Guns, Civil Rights and the GOP

by Suzanne Bates | Oct 24, 2014 1:44pm
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Posted to: Opinion, Hartford

ctbrac.org

Back Row, L to R: Nicholas Johnson, Ken Blackwell, Richard Ivory, the Rev. Dean Nelson, Wayne Dupree, and Garland Hunt. Front Row, L to R: Sonnie Johnson, Regina Roundtree


When Sonnie Johnson broke into her spoken word poem, A Moment of Clarity, about her journey from the projects in Richmond, Va. — the daughter of a biological mother addicted to crack and an alcoholic father — to her job today as a tea party activist and founder of the website Change the Game, it was clear this was a different kind of conservative panel.

We are dying,” she cried out.

Whether we kill our babies in the womb
Or follow drugs to the tomb
Or lay unemployed in our mother’s living room.
Whether we pull triggers and kill our own reflection
Or use the haves and have nots in our selection.
Or destroy the lives of others due to our own depression.

Johnson described her journey to conservatism, which came partially through the stark capitalism she found in the words of artists like Jay Z and 50 Cent, and partially through a calling from God. She, and the six other panelists at the event, explained why they believe conservatism, and by extension the Republican Party, can lift urban communities through a return to constitutional principles and entrepreneurism.

Listening to her, and the other speakers, it struck me how important their voices will be moving forward if the conservative movement — and by extension the Republican Party — is going to expand and succeed.

The theme of the first panel at the event, which was held on Oct. 11 at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, was “Today’s Civil Rights Issues: Crime, Guns and Race.” C-SPAN filmed the event and will broadcast the proceedings some time after the November elections.

The event was organized by Regina Roundtree, president and founder of Connecticut Black Republicans and Conservatives (www.CBRAC.org). She is also a paid consultant for gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.

The panelists were all luminaries in the Black conservative world. From professors to clergy to a former ambassador to the United Nations, each of them took a different route to their place in the conservative movement.

And that, said Roundtree, was something she wanted to help people understand — that conservatives don’t all look and sound the same.

“I wanted the world to see how beautiful our community is, and how diverse we are,” she said. “I believe that this was an opportunity to share with the world, to share with you, the complexities and the layers of our community.”

Ken Blackwell — a professor, former mayor of Cincinnati, former ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and an NRA board member — spoke of the need to maintain the constitutional rights of people living in urban communities, who, he argued, have a right to protect themselves as much as anyone living in rural areas, where gun laws are often more relaxed.

Alongside Blackwell sat Nicholas Johnson, a law professor at Fordham University and author of Negroes and the Gun. The book describes the tradition of Black Americans protecting themselves with guns after the Civil War and throughout the civil rights movement. Even the “non-violent” leaders of the movement, like the Rev. Martin Luther King, kept guns close by so they could protect themselves and their families.

Also on the panel were Bishop Garland Hunt, and the Rev. Dean Nelson, co-founder of the Frederick Douglass Foundation.

The panel did address the “misuse” of weapons. That comes from lawlessness, and broken families, said Hunt, who was on Georgia’s parole board and also runs a prison ministry. We need to teach value for life, and the responsible use of weapons, he said.

All of the panelists described a need to decriminalize American society. With every new regulation and law passed by conservative and liberal legislatures alike, another chance to become a criminal is born.

That’s true with gun crimes as well — if a felon is found near a gun, not just in possession of a gun, they can be sent back to jail or charged with a new crime.

Let’s teach responsibility instead of criminality, the panelists said. We don’t need a new law for every problem.

It was clear from what the panelists said that the Republican Party is not presently doing enough to attract Black voters and thinkers.

Wayne Dupree, who was on the Social Media and Messaging panel with Sonnie Johnson, said he was tired of the Republican National Committee making promises that weren’t kept.

“Every two years after the election, they say they are going to do something, and it doesn’t happen,” he said.

The party needs to build a presence in Black communities by finding a space and staying there, he said.

That sentiment was echoed by Richard Ivory, founder of HipHopRepublican.com, who said that the Republican Party still has a long way to go to attract minority voters and urban voters, but that reaching out is essential for the party to survive.

“The reason I’m so passionate about what I’m doing is because I believe the only way the party will get where it needs to be, as it tries to find its way, is with cities and minorities,” he said. “Cities and minorities will make the Republican Party more competitive, and will make the party a strong party in the future. And I think it will benefit the African American community and other minority communities to have another party to consider.”

Roundtree is trying to build the bridge between urban minority communities and Republicans in Connecticut, but said the GOP needs to be in it for the long-term.

In the coming months, she plans to set up a non-profit research and education foundation devoted to addressing the issues facing cities, and said she will come to those issues from a conservative viewpoint, as well as a minority viewpoint.

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.

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.

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OP-ED | One Corner, Six Elections (2004-2014)

by Susan Bigelow | Oct 24, 2014 1:26pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Opinion, Enfield

Every other year, during election season, I go to a specific corner near my home in Enfield and take pictures of the election signs campaigns have posted there. I’ve been doing this for a decade, now, and the result is my own very minor contribution to local election history.

It’s also a way to watch how a single intersection can change over time. In the 10 years since 2004, a new medical building has risen behind the package store, Middle Road has finally been repaved, signs have been moved around, and the gas station just across the street is now nothing more than an empty shell.

Susan Bigelow

So what do we have this year? Well . . . it’s hardly the best crop of signs I’ve seen, to be honest. In fact, it really feels like there aren’t as many signs up this year everywhere in town as there have been in the past.

There are no signs even hinting at the governor’s race, though that isn’t particularly surprising. For some reason, this corner just doesn’t get those. What is surprising is how few signs for either Foley or Malloy there are anywhere in town. I’ve only seen a handful of Foley signs, and zero signs for Malloy. There is a lone Heather Somers sign on the Somers town line, which I suppose is pretty clever.

The corner is dominated again by Rep. Joe Courtney’s vibrant yellow signs, which are reminiscent of Sen. Chris Dodd’s old placards. State Rep. David Kiner of the 59th District has his blue signs on the corner again, as does his opponent, Republican Rob Kwasnicki. Republican Tom Kienzler also has signs — his have his picture on them — for his run against state Rep. David Alexander in the 58th. The current boundary between the 58th and the 59th is visible in the photo — the picture was taken in the 58th, and the corner itself is in the 59th.

The one constant for all six election pictures is state Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield. His blue and yellow re-election signs are always there, and so far he hasn’t lost. His opponent this year is Democrat John Foxx, also of Enfield.

2012
Susan Bigelow

This picture was taken just before Hurricane Sandy hit in late October — at which point all the signs were taken in as a precaution. There are, of course, Kissel signs, along with a few Linda McMahon signs and a Chris Murphy sign. You’d never know it was a presidential year from these signs, however — those sorts of signs never make it to this corner. Rep. Kiner’s signs here are the same as they are in 2014, and Courtney’s massive sign is back.

2010
Susan Bigelow

This is a pretty interesting year, if only because so many of the names are familiar. There’s a Tom Foley sign, the form of which is a little different from its 2014 version. The colors are switched in 2010, with red on the top, and his running mate’s name is different. The basic form is the same, however. The most prominent sign is Martha Dean, which has her smiling face and her memorable, if weird, slogan of “Freedom, Faith, Fortune.” She was running for attorney general in 2010, and lost badly. David Kiner’s sign appears here for the first time.

2008
Susan Bigelow

Excuse the rotten quality, I took it with a Blackberry. Cell phone cameras are an awful lot better now, thankfully. The biggest signs here are for the state senate race between Sen. Kissel and George Colli. Colli is now a reporter with NBC Connecticut. If any other elections were going on that year, they don’t show up in this blurry picture.

2006
Susan Bigelow

There were two huge races in 2006, and both are represented here. Ned Lamont has signs, as do both Joe Courtney and former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons. Lamont lost to Joe Lieberman, while Joe Courtney edged Rob Simmons by 91 votes. Courtney hasn’t had a tough race since. The Kiner of 2006 was David Kiner’s father, Bill, a longtime figure in Enfield politics. He didn’t have any luck against Sen. Kissel, either.

2004
Susan Bigelow

Another presidential year, and once again no sign of it on the corner. Chris Dodd’s signs are here, as are signs for Rob Simmons. Bill Kiner came very, very close in 2004, but couldn’t defeat John Kissel. While 2004 may seem similar in these pictures, in a lot of ways it was a very, very different world. Simmons was one of three Republican representatives in Congress, all of whom would win in 2004, and George W. Bush was heading for re-election.

Can’t wait to see what another 10 years brings.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

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.

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Unions Continue To Express Concerns Over Hospital Conversions

by Cara Rosner | Oct 24, 2014 12:49pm
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Posted to: Health Care, Labor, State Capitol, Bristol, Manchester, Vernon, Waterbury

New Haven Register file photo A senior official at the Dallas-based corporation trying to buy community hospitals in Bristol, Vernon, Manchester and Waterbury says privatizing them is the best way to keep them viable, but employee representatives have major concerns about the potential buyouts. 

Various stakeholders in the pending deals voiced their opinions to state lawmakers Thursday during a meeting of the newly formed bipartisan Roundtable on Hospitals and Healthcare.

Harold “Trip” Pilgrim, senior vice president of development at Tenet Healthcare Corp. told members of the roundtable that the company’s plan to buy several Connecticut hospitals – converting them from nonprofits into for-profit, privatized entities – is the best bet for preserving them.

Amid expensive mandates tied to the Affordable Care Act, additional money needed to upgrade information and technology systems and decreasing Medicaid reimbursements, “if you’re a small, independent community hospital you find yourself squeezed,” Pilgrim said.

“This is a trend that is playing out in communities across America,” he told lawmakers. “Independent community hospitals need to find ways to leverage economies of scale (and) have a more cost-efficient footprint” while still providing quality healthcare, he said.

Tenet’s acquisitions, he said, will ease the pressures the hospitals feel. The corporation’s size can, among other things, allow hospitals to take advantage of centralized human resources and information technology systems to cut costs, he said.

“We will bring capital access and sustainability for these organizations, without negating who or what they’ve represented to those (local) communities over history,” Pilgrim said.

Union officials who represent hospital workers aren’t so sure.

CT-N screengrab “There are serious questions about how this takeover would impact quality of care,” said Suzanne Haviland, field representative for AFSCME International, the union representing nurses and technical employees at Waterbury Hospital, which Tenet is in the process of acquiring.

“We believe that there needs to be significant protections in place” before the purchase is approved, she said.

Employees worry about Tenet’s reputation, she said. The company has paid Medicare-related fines of more than $1 billion over the past 12 years and has been sued for allegedly receiving Medicaid kickbacks, she said. “There’s been a lot of issues.”
She also said the company is anti-pension and employees worry about potential changes to future contracts.

Haviland also worries about Tenet’s “potential dominance” of Connecticut’s healthcare landscape. In addition to vying to buy hospitals in Waterbury, Manchester, Vernon and Bristol, Tenet has partnered with Yale New Haven Health System – though it has not bought Yale-New Haven Hospital – so if the pending deals go through, Tenet will have some sort of connection with about one-third of Connecticut hospitals, she said.

If Tenet keeps expanding and begins buying physicians’ practices in the state that could result in higher costs for patients, she warned. The same procedures administered by the same doctors can be billed at a more expensive rate if that doctor technically is an employee of a hospital, she said.

Pilgrim spoke earlier and had to leave the roundtable discussion early, to catch a flight, before the union officials spoke so he was unable to respond to their claims.

The privatization of hospitals is “deeply troubling,” said Deborah Chernoff, public policy director of the New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199, SEIU. The union represents 400 workers at Waterbury Hospital who work in nursing support roles and maintenance jobs.

“No one can serve two masters,” she said. “We need to be very careful every step of the way…lest we discover our hospitals have been converted from centers of care to cash cows for investors.”

Hospital employees worry that privatization will lead to layoffs and reduced work hours, she said.

Melodie Peters, president of the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut union that represents 700 workers in the Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN), also spoke. Tenet is in the process of buying two ECHN hospitals, Rockville General Hospital in Vernon and Manchester Memorial Hospital.

“We do have some fears,” she said, though employees are hopeful that a private hospital can thrive with proper checks and balances and still retain its ties to the local community.

In his earlier comments, before the union officials spoke, Pilgrim said Tenet’s previous privatizations of hospitals have gone smoothly.

“My experience is those hospitals thrive after conversion,” he said.

State Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol, asked Pilgrim how privatization typically impacts employee turnover.

“Physician retention has been very good,” Pilgrim answered, citing turnover declines in Tenet-acquired hospitals in San Antonio, Detroit and Chicago.

Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne and Manchester Mayor Jay Moran addressed the roundtable, both saying they support any measure that will keep their municipalities’ hospitals in town.

“The hospital is one of our biggest employers,” Cockayne said. “If this (privatization) is going to keep the hospital strong, then I fully support it.”

Moran agreed, saying his priority is to keep Manchester Memorial Hospital as his town’s largest employer.

“ECHN is not in a financial position to compete without new capital,” he said, adding that if privatization is the best solution “then we’re willing to accept the change.”

Tenet’s acquisition of the now tax-exempt Bristol General Hospital will add $1.5 million to $2 million to that city’s tax roll, Cockayne said. Manchester doesn’t yet know the tax impact a Tenet deal would have, Moran said.

The bipartisan Roundtable on Hospitals and Health Care was formed by the legislature earlier this year. The group is tasked with reaching out to policy makers, hospitals, physicians, health insurers, patient advocates and other stakeholders.

The group’s goal is to monitor the implementation of recent legislation, discuss the changing health care market and develop policy recommendations to ensure continued access to affordable quality care in the state.

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Working Families Party Files FEC Complaint Over Greenberg Campaign Office Rent

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 24, 2014 11:04am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014

Matt DeRienzo photo

5th District congressional candidate Mark Greenberg appears with former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson in New Britain earlier this month.

The Working Families Party has filed a Federal Elections Commission complaint against Republican 5th District congressional candidate Mark Greenberg after a Hartford Courant story reported that his real estate company had been providing his campaign an office rent-free.

Greenberg’s campaign treasurer, Ken Nowell, told the Courant that failure to pay rent was an honest mistake that was rectified after a reporter pointed it out.

But in its complaint, the Working Families Party alleges that even with the back rent payments covered, Greenberg is violating campaign finance laws. It claims that the “fair market rent” on the campaign headquarters being used in a Greenberg-owned building in Watertown is more than double what the campaign committee is paying.

The Working Families Party has endorsed and is working to support the re-election of Greenberg’s opponent, incumbent first-term Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.

“Mr. Greenberg is using his perks as a real estate mogul and blatantly disregarding the campaign finance laws we have in place,” said Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party. “Working and middle class families can’t enter into ‘loose arrangements’ and pay only 23 percent of their monthly rent. Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to either.”

Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, said “it was Esty who had to return thousands of dollars in tainted campaign donations from Connecticut utility companies.”

“Elizabeth Esty and her surrogates like the Working Families Party will do anything to distract attention from her atrocious record in Congress, including the filing of baseless claims designed to turn the subject away from her voting record and her disastrous policies that have wrecked our economy,” he said. “Elizabeth Esty continues to avoid talking about her real record, instead tossing bombs through her spokesperson or surrogate organizations.  She continues to wage a campaign built on lies and distortions - as independent news organizations have pointed out.”

The FEC complaint is unlikely to be resolved before the election, which is a week and a half away.

In addition to owning the building that his campaign is using, Greenberg, a multimillionaire, is funding most of his campaign’s expenses. He is, in effect, donating money to his campaign in order to pay rent to himself.

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OP-ED | Holding My Nose To Vote For Q1

by Terry D. Cowgill | Oct 24, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Election Policy, Opinion

ct.gov

This year’s ballot question


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.

Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and is news editor of The Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill.

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Malloy, Visconti Square Off on NBC in Debate Without Foley

by Christine Stuart | Oct 23, 2014 9:40pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, West Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Joe Visconti

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.

George Colli photo

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.”

Christine Stuart photo

Joe Visconti

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.”

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

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.

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In Newtown, Esty And Gun Reform Leader Talk Background Checks

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 23, 2014 9:02pm
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Posted to: Civil Liberties, Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Law Enforcement

Matt DeRienzo photo

California Congressman Michael Thompson joined 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty Thursday at a forum on gun control at Newtown High School.

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.

Matt DeRienzo photo “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.

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Dems Ask Judge To Dismiss GOP Lawsuit

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 23, 2014 3:18pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance

CT-N Screenshot of David S. Golub, an attorney for the Democratic Party

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.”

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Nearly $1M In Outreach for Second Enrollment

by Cara Rosner | Oct 23, 2014 2:38pm
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Posted to: Health Care

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.”

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Drowning In Campaign Cash

by Kristi Allen | Oct 23, 2014 12:00pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Congress, Election 2014

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.

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OP-ED | On Responsibility, Sports, and Parenting

by Barth Keck | Oct 23, 2014 8:00am
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Posted to: Education, Opinion, Sports

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.”

Barth Keck is an English teacher and assistant football coach who also teaches courses in journalism and media literacy at Haddam-Killingworth High School. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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.

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Esty Ranked 104th Wealthiest Member of Congress; Greenberg Would Be In Top 20

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 23, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014

Elizabeth Esty is in the top 20 percent of wealthiest members of Congress. Mark Greenberg would be in the top 5 percent.

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.”

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Dems To Federal Regulators: Nevermind

by Christine Stuart | Oct 23, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Courts, Election 2014

Front of the third mailer sent with federal funds

(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.

The Democratic Party filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit Wednesday. And the Republican Party filed its objection to that motion.

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.

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Malloy Touts His Housing Record, Foley Struggles On Policy

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 22, 2014 3:48pm
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Hugh McQuaid Photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

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.

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Tom Foley

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.

Hugh McQuaid Photo 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.

Hugh McQuaid Photo 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.

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Esty, Greenberg Focus On 5th’s Many Older Voters In Debate On Social Security

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 22, 2014 1:30pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014

CTNJ file photos

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Republican Mark Greenberg

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.”

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Newtown’s Congresswoman Talks Gun Violence As Election Approaches

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 22, 2014 6:59am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014

John Berry/The Register Citizen 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.

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Latest Poll Shows Tight Governor’s Race

by Christine Stuart | Oct 22, 2014 6:27am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Poll

CTNJ file photos

(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.

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Obama Is Coming Back

by Christine Stuart | Oct 21, 2014 4:46pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Bridgeport

Christine Stuart file photo 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’

by Christine Stuart | Oct 21, 2014 4:31pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Taxes

Christine Stuart photo

Tom Foley

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.

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

“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.”

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Malloy, Foley Both Promise To Hold Towns Harmless

by Christine Stuart | Oct 21, 2014 12:54pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Town News, Hartford, Convention Center, State Budget, Taxes

Christine Stuart photo

Republican Tom Foley

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.

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

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.

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Department Touting Business Climate in Ads Just Before Election

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 21, 2014 12:14pm
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Posted to: Election 2014

Dr. Edison Liu, CEO of Jackson Laboratory, in a screen grab of the ad

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.

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5th District Notebook: Esty, Greenberg To Debate Guns, Social Security

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 21, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014

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.

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Malloy Blames The Media

by Christine Stuart | Oct 21, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Media Matters

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tours Penn Global in North Branford

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.

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Judge Denies Temporary Restraining Order & Motion to Include Election Regulators In GOP Lawsuit

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 20, 2014 4:03pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Courts, Election 2014

Hugh McQuaid photo

Hartford Superior Court

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.

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Sept. Job Gains Are Good News For Malloy

by Christine Stuart | Oct 20, 2014 11:35am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Jobs, Labor

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Gov. Dannel P. 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.

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Greenberg Uses Old Cheshire Budget Hearing Video To Hit Esty On Taxes

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 20, 2014 7:19am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Cheshire

Mark Greenberg’s new TV ad attacks 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty for supporting tax increases while a local official in Cheshire.

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.”

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Foley Will Sit Out This Week’s Debate

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 20, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Media Matters, West Hartford

CTNJ file photos

Gov. Dan Malloy and Tom Foley

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.”

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Candidates Squabble Over Tax Returns

by Christine Stuart | Oct 20, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Taxes, Transparency

CTNJ file photo 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.”

CTNJ file photo 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.

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OP-ED | On the Occasion of the Opening of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

by Edison Liu | Oct 19, 2014 9:03pm
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Posted to: Health Care, Jobs, Opinion, Farmington

Derek Hayn / Centerbrook Architects

The Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, Conn.


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.

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OP-ED | Joe Must Go

by Bob Margolis | Oct 19, 2014 8:21pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Opinion

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.

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Foley Pays No Income Taxes In 2013

by Christine Stuart | Oct 17, 2014 2:59pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Taxes

CTNJ file photo

Tom Foley

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.”

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GOP Seeks Injunction Against Malloy Mailer

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 17, 2014 1:25pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014

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Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola

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.”

Hugh McQuaid Photo 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.

Republicans rejected that argument Friday. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said Democrats only have one federal account.

“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.

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Greenberg Says CDC Director Should Resign Over Ebola Response

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 17, 2014 12:37pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Health Care, White House

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Mark Greenberg and Nancy Johnson visit with seniors last week

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.”

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OP-ED | Bipartisan Lack of Integrity Destroys Confidence in Political System

by Sarah Darer Littman | Oct 17, 2014 11:57am
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014, Ethics, Opinion, Greenwich

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.”

opensecrets.org opensecrets.org 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.

It’s worth noting that under public scrutiny in this tight election season, both Gov. Malloy and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey urged Abrams to abandon his campaign for the 149th District seat.

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.

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Another Debate Scheduled In Race for State Treasurer

by Staff Report | Oct 17, 2014 9:59am
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Posted to: Election 2014

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

by Susan Bigelow | Oct 17, 2014 9:27am
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Posted to: Health Care, Opinion

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.

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.

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OP-ED | Voters Should Reject Nappier’s Phantom Candidacy

by Terry D. Cowgill | Oct 17, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Opinion

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.

http://denisenappier2014.com/ 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.

Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and is news editor of The Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill.

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.

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Visconti Tries To Steer Opponents Toward Budget Deficit

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 16, 2014 9:41pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, New London

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Joe Visconti, Gov. Dannel Malloy, and Tom Foley

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.”

Hugh McQuaid Photo 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.”

Climate Change

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.”

Hugh McQuaid Photo 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.

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Gabby Giffords Makes A Pitch For Common Sense Gun Laws

by Christine Stuart | Oct 16, 2014 5:17pm
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Posted to: Congress, Law Enforcement, Legal, West Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords

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.”

Christine Stuart photo

Karen Jarmoc, executive director of Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Giffords, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal

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.

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Yale Grad student who Traveled to Liberia Tests Negative for Ebola After Hospitalization

by New Haven Register | Oct 16, 2014 2:58pm
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Posted to: Health Care, New Haven

Arnold Gold for the New Haven Register

Dr. Thomas Valcezak, Chief Medical Officer for Yale-New Haven Hospital, answers questions during a press conference at the Yale School of Medicine

(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.

Christine Stuart photo 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

by Cara Rosner | Oct 16, 2014 12:00pm
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Posted to: Health Care, Taxes

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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.”

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5th District Notebook: Greenberg’s Personal Spending on Campaigns Approaches $4 Million

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 16, 2014 11:00am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District

Matt DeRienzo photo

Republican 5th District Congress candidate Mark Greenberg speaks at the New Britain Senior Center Oct. 14 alongside former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson.

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

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 16, 2014 5:29am
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Posted to: Election 2014

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.

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Republicans Call For Ebola Hearing

by Kristi Allen | Oct 15, 2014 3:21pm
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Posted to: Health Care, State Capitol

Wikipedia

The Ebola virus

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.

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Democratic Party Goes Forward With Malloy Mailer

by Christine Stuart | Oct 15, 2014 2:07pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014

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.”

State election regulators sharply criticized the Democratic Party Tuesday in their written objection to the request.

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.

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Obama Postpones Connecticut Trip For Ebola Briefing

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 15, 2014 12:50pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Bridgeport

Hugh McQuaid file photo

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.

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Foley Hasn’t Thought About Releasing His 2013 Taxes

by Christine Stuart | Oct 15, 2014 12:00pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Taxes

CTNJ file photo

Republican Tom Foley

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. 

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OP-ED | End Exemptions To Post-Election Audits

by Luther Weeks | Oct 15, 2014 10:27am
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Posted to: Election 2014, Election Policy, Opinion

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

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.

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Greenberg, Esty Point Fingers Over Lack Of 5th District Debates

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 15, 2014 7:00am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District

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

by Christine Stuart and Hugh McQuaid | Oct 14, 2014 5:42pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Labor

Christine Stuart photo

Tom Foley

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.”

Hugh McQuaid photo

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

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.

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State Election Regulators Say Dem Request Would ‘Cynically Circumvent’ CT Law

by Christine Stuart | Oct 14, 2014 2:43pm
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014

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.

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Nancy Johnson Defends Greenberg On Social Security, But Differs On Specifics

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 14, 2014 2:15pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014

Matt DeRienzo photo

Former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson speaks on behalf of Mark Greenberg Tuesday at the New Britain Senior Center.

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.

Matt DeRienzo photo 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.”

Matt DeRienzo photo 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.”

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Family Keeps Sen. Maynard On Ballot Despite Uncertain Recovery

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 14, 2014 12:59pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, Groton, New London

Hugh McQuaid file photo

Sen. Andrew Maynard

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.

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Deadline To Qualify For Public Financing Is Friday

by Kristi Allen | Oct 14, 2014 12:15pm
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Posted to: Election 2014

CTNJ file photo

State Elections Enforcement Commission

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.

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The Politics of Ebola: Mark Greenberg Wants Tougher U.S. Stance

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 14, 2014 8:02am
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District, Election 2014, Health Care, White House

wikipedia

The Ebola virus

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.

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Visconti Gets His Turn

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 14, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Election 2014, New London

Christine Stuart file photo

Joe Visconti getting heckled by a Dan Malloy supporter outside the Sept. 30 debate at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford

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.

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Clinton Stumps for Malloy, Touts Governor for Making Hard Decisions

by Christine Stuart | Oct 13, 2014 9:10pm
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Posted to: Election 2014, State Budget, Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

Former President Bill Clinton

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.

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

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.”

Christine Stuart photo 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.

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Esty Releases Internal Poll Showing Wide Lead in 5th District

by Matt DeRienzo | Oct 13, 2014 1:37pm
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Posted to: Congress, 5th Congressional District

Matt DeRienzo file photo

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty shakes Mark Greenberg’s hand before the debate

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.

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Officials Seek Comment on Creation of State-Sponsored Retirement Account

by Christine Stuart | Oct 13, 2014 12:24pm
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Posted to: Jobs, Labor, Legal, Taxes, State Capitol

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.

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9 Citizens, 2 Republican Caucuses and Advocacy Group Object to FEC Request

by Christine Stuart | Oct 13, 2014 5:30am
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Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014

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 f