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Housing Question Opens Door To Candidate Attack

by Christine Stuart | Aug 4, 2012 3:36pm
(10) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Congress, Election 2012, Town News, Litchfield

Christine Stuart photo

Elizabeth Esty, Chris Donovan, and Dan Roberti

LITCHFIELD—For nearly 40 minutes the three Democrats vying for the open 5th District congressional seat stuck to the issues of climate change, reviving manufacturing, and gun control. The fireworks didn’t come until the end. 

League of Women Voters Moderator Jean Rabinow asked how the candidates would handle the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s rejection of the Obama administration’s debt forgiveness program for homeowners.

Dan Roberti of Kent was the first to answer the question by saying he would continue to fight for homeowners underwater on their mortgages. He also talked about the importance of community banks and how he’s treated by his community bank versus the service he gets at Bank of America.

Former State Rep. Elizabeth Esty saw her opening and took it.

“This is where I think I have to point something out,” Esty said. “Mr. Roberti is the co-owner of a lobbying firm. Citibank, Citicorp is one of its clients. Citibank is one of the banks that is responsible for the mess that we’re in with this mortgage crisis.”

Esty alleged that with Citicorp as a client she doesn’t know how Roberti can assure the citizens of northwestern Connecticut he will stand up for community banks, if elected to Congress.

“It should scare every voter in the 5th District,” Esty said. “That a powerful D.C. lobbyist is trying to install a personal congressman in our part of Connecticut.”

Esty was referring to Vin Roberti, Dan Roberti’s father who owns one of the biggest government relations firms in Washington D.C.

Up until recently, Roberti’s trust—which was started by his father on his behalf—owned a 50 percent share of Roberti Global Associates, which in turn was invested in Roberti Associates, the lobbying and government relations firm. Roberti has since divested himself and sold his shares of Roberti Global Associates to his brother’s trust.

Roberti didn’t get a chance during the debate to offer a rebuttal to the statements that were made by Esty because the time had run out. Rabinow suggested he address it in his closing statement.

“First and foremost you seem to have me confused with my father,” Roberti said. “I am not an owner of a lobbying firm. I am not a lobbyist…I have divested myself of anything that has to do with that business.”

Roberti said he’s run the daily operations of a homeless shelter and helped clean up the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

“I am not a lobbyist. Shame on you for making a lie like that,” Roberti said to Esty. “When we were talking about energy and the environment I gave you the benefit of the doubt and I let you get your point across.”

He alleged that Esty made a decision to purchase stock ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco—“some of the biggest polluters we have out there.”

“You made a decision to take donations from people your husband regulates as commissioner of the D.E.E.P [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,” Roberti said.


He said he made it a point to divest himself of any conflicts of interest, unlike Esty who has taken money from employees of these companies.

However, Esty alleged during a post-debate question and answer session that there is a SuperPAC of donors, including some of his father’s clients, who are spending money on television advertisements smearing both her and Donovan. New Directions for America is funded by at least two of his father’s clients, but because the PAC can’t coordinate with the campaign Roberti said he has no control over what it does with its money.

Besides, Roberti said it’s hypocritical of Esty to complain about independent expenditures being made on behalf of a campaign because Esty has the national pro-choice women’s PAC EMILY’s List helping her with mailers attacking him and Donovan. EMILY’s List has spent at least $38,000 on mailers and its members have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to her campaign.

Esty made the decision to go after Roberti because “in the last two weeks I have seen $500,000, a half a million dollars, of attack ads launched by Dan Roberti.”

She said she’s never seen that in a Democratic primary race. She said the SuperPAC “bank rolled by his father’s clients” has launched at least $300,000 in attack ads and the rest have been done by his campaign, which was hurting for cash until recently.

“In the closing weeks of the campaign, the public needs to know this,” Esty said. “He does not have a record in this state, people don’t know who he is.”

She said she believes if Roberti’s attacks went unanswered then it would have an impact.

“I hope it doesn’t discourage voters from voting,” Esty said.

Even though the debate was technically closed to the public and the door to the room was guarded by the League of Women Voters volunteer, one member of the public was able to find a seat.

Paula Schneider of Brookfield quizzed both Roberti and Esty after the debate about their answers to the accusations. She was concerned about the ties the younger Roberti had to his father’s lobbying firm, and about whether Esty took money from the big oil companies.

Esty explained she had not taken money from the companies, but she does know some employees that work for them since she’s almost 53 years old.

“I have friends who work for companies all over the state and all over the country,” Esty said. “The implication is that those companies are investing in me and that is simply absolutely not true.”

There was no focus on the federal investigation, which saw two of Chris Donovan’s former campaign workers get arrested for trying to allegedly trade his influence as speaker of the house for straw donations to the congressional campaign. The League of Women Voters made it clear from the start that the questions during the debate would be focused on the issues.

Donovan left the library as reporters surrounded Esty and Roberti to ask about their attacks of each other. When it was Donovan’s turn he was gone.

“You had two millionaires on the stage who put half a million dollars into their campaign and one guy with a record for 30 years of fighting for Connecticut’s working families,” Gabe Rosenberg, Donovan’s spokesman, said in the parking lot. “He’s going to run on that record and he’s going to win on that record.”

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(10) Comments

posted by: AndersonScooper | August 4, 2012  6:09pm

Hi Christine, thanks for capturing Esty and Roberti on that video.

Esty shows think skin and a real nasty streak that hasn’t come to the surface until now.

And Roberti? He just doesn’t get it that while running on Daddy’s wealth and connections, with a Super-PAC whacking away,—you don’t get to pretend to a high road, no matter how naive you might be.

The more I look at this contest the more I realize that they’re all swimming in dirty money. But at least Donovan can carry himself in a way befitting a legislator. (He reminds me a lot of Larson.) Chris is not going to embarass again after that FBI sting, and if he were to subsequently get indicted, maybe we’d end up with Mary Glassman!

posted by: Tim White 1 | August 4, 2012  11:29pm

“New Directions for America is funded by at least two of his father’s clients”

Will Vin Roberti soon be providing lobbying services free-of-charge in exchange for the $300,000 that they gave to support Dan Roberti… the man who claims to be detached from the lobbying firm he owns because he gave his share to his brother?

Roberti should skip Congress and get into comedy.  I can’t stop laughing when I hear him speak.  He keeps saying Esty called him a lobbyist, but that’s a flat-out lie.  I keep hearing her simply mention his own admission that he is part owner of his dad’s lobbying firm.

posted by: MGKW | August 5, 2012  3:16am

AS—-
You have got to be kidding…Donovan a legislator? His friends are the political version of “GoodFellas” they cannot talk about what they’ve done because their lawyers have told them to that is like pleading the 5th…but we can still trust Donovan? The man acted like he is a germane, benevolent legislator—-he is opposite that…disagree with me and I will destroy you. In addition, “Opie” Roberti swore to take a pledge of no negative campaigning—-then he does the exact opposite, indeed he is taking marching orders from his father whether he likes it or not.

posted by: CharlieH | August 5, 2012  8:16am

Roberti - “....steps that I take to make sure I’m being as out there and honest as possible.” LOL - yes, this guy is comedy gold! smile

posted by: Archie Bunker1 | August 5, 2012  12:41pm

Ray Soucey for Congress !!!!

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | August 5, 2012  6:09pm

GoatBoyPHD

Esty? The former medical indusrty consultant? Her bio has her listed as a health-care policy analyst for, among other clients, the American Medical Association, the Carnegie Corp., the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Robert Wood Johnson program at Yale.

Its known Esty is a past Planned Parenthood volunteer and Emily’s List beneficiary.

Given all that, how does Esty explain the increase in STDs nationwide since 2005? 25% in Syphilis? 45% in Clamydia? Not to mention AIDS/HIV

Sanger’s anti-minority polices are well documented. Free birth control and plenty of it for minorities. Plague? Not an issue. It might actually help keep minority pregnancy rates down. Platitudes and verbiage aside, has Esty indicated she supports anything except the same failed policies stemming from Planned Parenthood and the Ivy leaguers? Free Birth Control and Plague?

Hawaii is in the midst of crisis. As in California, easy access to the pill has led to an outbreak of STDs as young adults forsake condoms for the pill, morning-after pills, and abortion. It’s interesting because Hawaii was noted in Obama’s justification for his contraception policy. In reality it appears free condoms, even gold-plated ones with the presidents face, won’t lower Hawaii’s STD figures.

Nationally the cost of treating STDs continues to sky rocket passing that of so-called ‘unwanted’ pregnancies.

I never heard Esty say one thing counter to the President’s official positions. Not that I would expect to hear a discouraging word from an Ivy-elite.

The medical industry loves this women bearing plague! Big surpise!

Linke below—Hawaii’s State Dept of Health site. Tourist Warnings! Now we know why tourists have easy access to free condoms! Some things they don’t you bringing home with you!

Maybe that will be Hartford’s new tourism approach. Be safe. Free condoms. STD zone!

http://tinyurl.com/9sa5wwt

Thanks Liz!

You want to talk to us about that ‘War on Women’ again?

posted by: SalRomano | August 5, 2012  7:33pm

AndersonScooper;  You appear “cleverly-tricky’ to try to upgrade the very tainted, political quality of Chris Donovan, by trying to demean opposing Republican candidates. Nice try, Scoop, but everyone can read the purpose of your madness!.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | August 6, 2012  11:38am

DrHunterSThompson

Donovan is a snake. If the voters put him on the ballot for November I think removing the 5th from the state would be in order. Let’s donate the district to Florida or some other well deserving state.

The time to rid ourselves of this vermin is now!

HST

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | August 6, 2012  11:44am

GoatBoyPHD

More on Esty’s (STDS)  “War on Women” and the ‘Pills and Plague’ agenda.

What do British studies say? They’ve had morning after pills longer than the US. Pills lead to an increase in STDs among an ever younger group of kids as the old morals are replaced with “Keeping it Real” curriculums. Why abstinence when there’s the morning after pill? Why condoms when the only real threat is a baby bump?

The President’s “War on Women’s” health policy was devised by Barack Obama,  a man who lives and set policy in two cities over the last decade:  Chicago and Washington DC over the last decade. Do those cities have health statistics you envy? Bwaah Haah Haah!

Do the trends in Chi-town and DC suggest Barack really has a clue as to how to run a women’s health policy?

Or is hsi mindset more geared to pushing Jay-Z condoms through the government?

The English Study on STDs and morning after pills. Epic fail for STD prevention purposes and extremely limited gains at best for preventing unwanted births. If anything it seems to suggest that emergency contraception actually leads to an increase in births.

http://tinyurl.com/cgw92ax

As a Medical consultant Esty knows what it means to run two mutually destructive counter strategies (arming both sides) that require mitigation strategies to maximize the dollars that flow into the medical sector. That and a fancy slogan like “The War on Women” is what you need for fund raising.

Pills and plague. This woman is evil.
Her obvious propsoal:  increased funding across the board particularly in STD detection and treatment. Yes! Arm both sides and the spiral of ever-increasing expenditures is set in motion under the guise of “The War on Women”.

posted by: SalRomano | August 6, 2012  4:34pm

DrHunterSThompson” A better idea—Hunter—elect a Republican candidate, instead. Florida has enough alligators already.