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

by | Oct 17, 2014 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
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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(10) Archived Comments

posted by: UConnHoop | October 17, 2014  7:44am

Nappier has a very simple strategy.  Hide and count on the fact that because she’s a Democrat, she will get re-elected in this state.  Then, collect her checks for the next 4 years and repeat the strategy.  That’s it.  But, the worst part of this is the fact that she’ll probably win again because she’s a Democrat in CT.

posted by: jim black | October 17, 2014  9:14am

You are absolutely right. I will be voting to fire her.

posted by: Breeze | October 17, 2014  10:31am

Cowgill was sailing along brilliantly until he the part where he claims we’d be fools to re-elect Nappier. Is it foolish to re-elect her if she’s successfully performed her duties as state treasurer? Cowgill falls into the all too tempting trap of wanting to hit a three-run homer with no one on base.  Too bad, too, because he touched upon a number of Nappier’s glaring weaknesses.  He says Nappier has failed on two out of three criteria, but the one area of her success is the most important one: the pension asset’s bottom line. Before Cowgill throws out a flawed candidate in favor of the new guy in town, shouldn’t he complete the syllogism?  If the predecessor was a hazard, as Cowgirl maintains, shouldn’t he be extolling Herbst before declaring him the preferred candidate by default?

posted by: joemanc | October 17, 2014  2:33pm

” but the one area of her success is the most important one: the pension asset’s bottom line.”

Correction, the state pension is a ticking time bomb…

posted by: Breeze | October 17, 2014  5:15pm

Terry - thanks for the link. Obligated? Well, rhetorically I would say, yes, you were obligated because you informed us that only fools would re-elect her. So a vote for Herbst is vote for . . . ?  I appreciate the intel on Nappier!

posted by: SocialButterfly | October 17, 2014  8:04pm

Like Malloy, Napier did not provide any Democratic prosperity and should be voted out of office with Dannel.

posted by: One and Done | October 18, 2014  5:22am

CT has one of the worst cash management functions in the entire world.

Under 2% annual returns on investment when the markets are up over 20% is not an accident. 

This is just another fleece job on the taxpayers and I’m sure there are some big banks making serious money at our expense of her incompetence and corruption.

posted by: shinningstars122 | October 18, 2014  2:31pm


The link you provided from the Norwich Bulletin is not entirely persuasive to say the least Mr. Cowgill.

Nor is your piece.

I hate to play both these cards but honestly you need to be called on the mat for it.

First would you offer the same stinging criticism if Ms. Napier was a man or a Afro- American man?

Secondly if you honestly think Ms. Napier was an incompetent as you are lead to believe us, would it not been politically or professionally prudent to have been replaced over the last three years?

Has members of either party in the Legislature asked for this too?

Or have any of the state worker or teacher unions asked for her to step down due to her performance in managing their pensions?

You don’t seem to have considered those possibility at all.

I do agree that is a elected official that does not participates in debates does warrant criticism but your logic and reasoning is bordering on trolling sir.

Consider sticking to the facts next time and maybe, just maybe, you might have a more persuasive argument.

As for Ms. Napier maybe she will be inspired to stick up for herself and get on the offensive defending her office and her work record or at the very least the muck in your piece.

posted by: perturbed | October 19, 2014  10:58am



I’m glad you took the time to write about this race, and I appreciate your perspective, but you just called me a fool! :)  In all seriousness, Nappier’s behavior is real cause for concern. However, as a state employee, there is simply no viable alternative.

As you did, I watched Nappier’s interview with the Courant’s editorial board. It took two sittings to get through it, and it was excruciating. There were three basic things I took away from that interview: 1) Ms. Nappier has ample expertise in managing the state’s finances; 2) she means well; and 3) there’s something wrong with her. So she’s good on two out of those three.

On the first point, from what I’ve seen, the state treasurer’s office has done a fine job of managing the state’s finances. Setting aside any policy activism—or lack thereof—on the part of the treasurer, the pension fund management has been very solid. And if one is patient enough to wait for them, Ms. Nappier’s responses to the Courant’s questions do convey a sound understanding of the duties of the position.

Speaking volumes on the second observation, Ms. Nappier’s tenure has also been thankfully uneventful. As we all know, Ms. Nappier took over for disgraced convict Paul J. Silvester, one of many criminals serving during an especially corrupt time in the state’s executive branch history. To Nappier’s credit, there has been not even a hint of any (job related) scandal during her time in office. That’s worth a great deal.

Unfortunately, Ms. Nappier does appear troubled or afflicted with something. And I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. The frequent long pauses and overall demeanor were unnerving at best.

So where does that leave us voters? Breeze hit the nail on the head: “So a vote for Herbst is vote for . . . ?” What indeed. What are Herbst’s credentials for the job? Why does he want the job? As reasonable as the Norwich Bulletin’s endorsement appears, it provides no insight into Herbst’s qualifications for the job. Trumbull First Selectman? That’s only the most remotely relevant experience.

As a state employee, I would have to be a fool to vote against someone who has managed our pension fund well and for someone who wants to eliminate our pensions altogether. Thanks, but no thanks. Leave well enough alone.


posted by: perturbed | October 19, 2014  11:00am


@ One and Done wrote:

“Under 2% annual returns on investment when the markets are up over 20% is not an accident.”

One and Done, you must be grossly mistaken. What time period are you citing?  If you can tell us what time period you are referring to, we can all check the data for ourselves. (If you can’t, we must assume you are completely off-base.)

You do know, for example, that the state fiscal year does not match the calendar year, right?


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