Blumenthal To Hold a Press Conference Monday at the Hobby Lobby Store Under Construction in Manchester

by Categorized: Abortion, Richard Blumenthal Date:

Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case over birth control and religious freedom, is expanding in Connecticut.

And with the Oklahoma-based business preparing to open three new stores in Connecticut later this year, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal has written to the firm’s CEO to ask that it provide full insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Blumenthal, who will hold a news conference Monday morning at the construction site of the Manchester Hobby Lobby store, said Connecticut law mandates that all health insurance coverage through group or individual policies must provide “coverage for prescription contraceptive methods approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.” During the press conference, he plans to release a letter he wrote to Hobby Lobby CEO David Green.

On June 30, in one of the most closely watched U.S. Supreme Court cases of the year, the court ruled 5-4 that closely held for-profit businesses have a right to exercise their religious beliefs. The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain are conservative Christians who believe certain types of birth control are immoral and, the company argued, providing employees access to such contraceptives would violate principles of religious freedom.

Blumenthal, a stauch defender of access to birth control and legal abortion, is cosponsoring legislation that overturn the Hobby Lobby decision and clarify “the intent of Congress to provide equal and broad health insurance coverage for all forms of FDA approved contraceptives.”

“Religious liberty is about the right to practice your own religion, not the right of bosses to impose religious beliefs on employees,” Blumenthal said. “I am calling on Hobby Lobby to do the right thing and provide full contraceptive coverage to its Connecticut employees. Connecticut residents have enjoyed a long history of respect for individual rights and I urge Hobby Lobby to comply with our state laws.”

Blumenthal will be joined at the press conference by Christian Miron, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, Christine Palm, communications director for the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Victoria Veltri, state healthcare advocate, Susan Yolen, vice-president for public policy and advocacy at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.

According to the Hobby Lobby website, the store on Buckland Street in Manchester is scheduled to open on Sept. 12. The chain is also planning to open a store on Farmington Avenue in Bristol on Oct. 3 and on the Boston Post Road in Milford on Oct. 10.



Pelto Works the Starbucks Circuit

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Jonathan Pelto, the liberal Democrat who is running for governor with the Education and Democracy Party (which he created), is barnstorming parts of the state this week in an effort to collect the signatures he needs to earn a place on the November ballot.

Pelto, who calls himself a “Starbucks addict,” to the Courant’s Matthew Clarida that he plans to hit several of the Seattle chain’s Connecticut outlets. He’s also planning to stop at Bean and Leaf, an independent coffeeshop in New London.

Pelto said that he thinks he has the 7,500 signatures already and is working on getting about 2,000 more for a “buffer” in case signatures are thrown out by the secretary of the state.

The list of Pelto’s potential stops is after the jump.

Continue reading

State Seizes Malnourished Horses in Redding

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Two “severely emaciated” horses named Chinook and Cheyenne were seized by state agriculture officials at a home in Redding this week and their owner is expected to be charged with animal neglect.

Chinook and Cheyenne. State Agriculture Department photo.

Chinook and Cheyenne. State Agriculture Department photo.

This wasn’t the first time the owner, 75-year-old Lisa Lind-Larson, was under investigation for her treatment of these two horses. She got the two mustangs from U.S. Bureau of Land Managment in 2009, and by 2011 was under scrutiny for allegedly mistreating them. State officials say no action was taken then because the two horses recovered weight after several months.

Lind-Larson also got in trouble over importing a dog without a health permit and failing to get a dog license. She’s pleaded not guilty on that charge and the case is pending.

Chinook and Cheyenne were taken to the state’s Large Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility in Niantic.



Malloy, at the NGA, Asked About Hillary Clinton’s UConn Speaking Fee

by Categorized: 2016 Presidential election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, UConn Date:

The controversy over Hillary Clinton’s $250,000 fee to deliver a speech at UConn in April has followed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to Nashville.

Malloy, who is in the Music City to attend the National Governors Association summer meeting, was asked about Clinton’s fee. The speech was paid for by the UConn Foundation, not the university.

“Private foundations have the right to spend their money the way that they want to,” Malloy said, according to a tweet from Time political reporter Zeke Miller. “I don’t think it would be a controversy if she weren’t a likely candidate for president “


Blumenthal, Murphy Call for Quick Action On Immigration

by Categorized: Chris Murphy Date:

By Matthew Q. Clarida

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal renewed calls for Congressional action to address the ongoing immigration crisis at the southwestern border on Friday.

Both senators urged Congress to move quickly to approve President Barack Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis. About 40,000 have crossed the border illegally this year from three violence-stricken countries in Central America: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Many are being held in detention and processing centers in the southwestern states.

Blumenthal said that he is “hopeful” that Congress will reach a solution. He added that both humanitarian and political pressures demand that the situation be addressed.

“A picture is worth a thousand words…people around the country are saying, ‘we can’t just deport those children and send them back to gangs, street violence, murder, and torture.’” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal reiterated his support for the expansion of the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. Launched in 2012, DACA instructed border agencies to stop deporting a narrow group of migrant residents: educated non-criminals under the age of 31 who had lived in the country for five years as of June of 2012.

Many have said that the DACA program is giving potential immigrants an incentive to cross the border illegally, but Blumenthal said other factors are at work.

“I think that reasons for coming to American relate to safety and freedom, namely safety from the horrific and violent conditions in central american countries, and opportunities in jobs and families,” Blumenthal said. “I don’t think anybody is coming to this country because they believe there will be some kind of immigration reform in the future.”

While Blumenthal insisted that he was hopeful a solution would be reached, Murphy said that the political gridlock in Congress is worrisome to him.

“There is no hotter issue in the Republican Party today than immigration, and the Tea Members of the House just won’t allow anything to move through that body, and that’s the primary obstacle to progress right now,” Murphy said.

Both Murphy and Blumenthal have called on House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, to allow his chamber to vote on an immigration reform bill that has already passed the senate. But a significant chunk of Boehner’s caucus, and Boehner himself, have been vocal in allegations that Obama has overstepped his authority in using executive powers to enact certain immigration policies, including the 2012 DACA program.

With a Month to Go, GOP Primary Campaign Picks Up Speed

by Categorized: 2014 Election, John McKinney, Republicans, Tom Foley Date:

The race for the Republican nomination for governor is kicking into high gear this weekend.

With about a month to go before the Aug. 12 primary, Tom Foley and John McKinney plans to attend Sailfest 2014 in New London, which draws tens of thousands of visitors to the coastal city.

McKinney and running mate David Walker will also march in the Enfield Independence Day parade, which steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday and is part of a huge weekend festival. On Sunday, McKinney and Walker will attend another big event: the Puerto Rican parade and festival in Bridgeport.

UPDATE: Tom Foley will also attend the Enfield parade. His campaign had initially said he was attending Sailfest but plans changed this morning and Foley is going to Enfield instead.

Some observers have noted that Foley, who won the endorsement at the Republican party convention in May,  is eschewing the rough and tumble of the campaign trail, avoiding most debates and steering clear of other unscripted events.

Foley campaign spokesman Chris Cooper rejects the idea that the candidate is employing a “Rose Garden” strategy.

“It’s a ridiculous assertion,” Cooper said. “He’s been meeting with people for well over a year on a regular basis…he’s attended all of the [Republican town committee] forums and debates leading up to the convention. He’s been going around interviewing people and even recording them. He’s been doing urban outreach events…he was in a workshop with parents about how to improve their schools…he’s been meeting editorial boards.”

Cooper added: “Tom is meeting and talking to people every day and he’s also doing everything it takes to build a campaign organization.”

As far as McKinney’s approach, spokeswoman Jodi Latina said the candidate will be out and about as much as possible.

“Every weekend is important to us and we’re going to be out there as much as we can be..meeting with the people and listening to what their concerns are,” Latina said. “We want them to know that there’s a clear choice on Aug. 12.”


Gov. Christie Raising Money in Greenwich; Dems Not Happy

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is coming to Connecticut on July 21 to raise money for state Republicans, and the state Democratic Party is not happy about it.

At issue is Christie’s recent veto of a gun control bill in New Jersey which would have limited magazines to 10 or fewer bullets. Christie explained that, in his opinion, simply limiting the capacity of a magazine does not solve the root problem of gun violence. In the bill’s place, he proposed improving the state’s mental health services and strengthening involuntary commitment procedures.

Shortly before announcing the veto, Christie was unavailable to meet with family members of children who were killed in the 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The parents had driven to New Jersey hoping to catch Christie, but were told the governor was not free for a meeting. One parent called the experience “a slap in the face.”

Devon Puglia, a spokesperson for the Democratic State Central Committee, criticized the veto, the ignored calls for a meeting, and Christie’s fundraising plans together.

“It’s remarkable that Chris Christie has the audacity to insult the parents of Sandy Hook victims, but then come to Connecticut to hobnob, glad-hand, and raise money. It’s an insult to family-members of Newtown victims – and it’s a slap in the face to this state,” Puglia wrote in a statement on Thursday.

UPDATE: State Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola responded to Puglia’s charges: “It seems that the Democrats will do anything to distract attention away from the last place Malloy economy, including politicizing the Newtown tragedy.

“It’s truly pathetic and hypocritically [that] they failed to mention that the leader of their party, President Obama, spent this last week hob-nobbing at fundraisers in Texas but was unable to find the time to visit the human tragedy unfolding on the U.S. border,” Labriola added.

According to Hearst Connecticut Media, the July fundraiser will be at hedge fund magnate Brian Olson’s residence in the upscale Belle Haven section of Greenwich. Tickets go as high as $10,000, although Republicans under 35 can get in for $250. Hearst writer Neil Vigdor reported that the money will benefit an account managed by the Connecticut Republican Party that “has the fingerprints of … Tom Foley on it.”

Ernie Newton To Seek Dismissal of 7 Criminal Charges

by Categorized: Hartford Date:

HARTFORD – An attorney for former state Senator Ernie Newton said Thursday that he will ask a judge to dismiss seven criminal charges due to a recently discovered audit that he says exonerates Newton of campaign finance fraud.

The defense team never saw the audit by state election officials until recent weeks, but it says that Newton had reached the minimum $15,000 fundraising threshold to qualify for more than $80,000 in public financing in a Democratic state Senate primary that he lost in August 2012. The fundraising is at the heart of the criminal charges because the prosecution charges that Newton never reached the threshold and should have never received the public money – leading to a felony count of first-degree larceny for “falsely obtaining thousands of dollars in public funds.’’

Attorney Darnell D. Crosland, who represents Newton, read some details of the audit during a hearing in Superior Court, telling Judge Joan Alexander that 357 campaign contributions had been certified as “qualified’’ under state rules and that the final tally was $15,020 – just barely above the threshold.

“Mr. Newton has reached the threshold for qualified funds, which has brought us here,’’ Crosland told the judge. “We’ve been before this court for about two years. … We’re approaching a Brady issue or a discovery issue because this should have been turned over a long time ago.’’

The judge responded that she was not ruling that prosecutors were guilty of a “Brady’’ violation – meaning that they had not turned over evidence that would prove the innocence of a defendant.

In a rare appearance in court, deputy chief state’s attorney Leonard Boyle – the second-highest ranking state prosecutor – said that the “draft summary’’ of the audit that was dated June 3, 2013 was a mistake.

“I have reason to believe the 2013 date was in error,’’ Boyle told the judge, adding that the document should have been dated one year later. Continue reading

CT GOP Facebook Page Hearts Tom Foley

by Categorized: John McKinney, Republicans, Tom Foley, Uncategorized Date:
State Republican party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. has officially remained neutral in the GOP gubernatorial race–at least so far–and the party has not spent money in support of any particular candidate.
But social media gives a strong hint as to where the party’s allegiances lie.
The Connecticut Republican Party’s Facebook page is larded with photos of Tom Foley, who won the endorsement at the party convention in May.
A shot of Foley marching in the Madison Independence Day parade is the cover photo. The party also posted a link to Foley’s new TV ad.
You have to scroll down pretty far to find a photo of John McKinney, Foley’s primary opponent but eventually, you will find a picture of him and other party dignitaries at the Chairman’s Dinner. It was taken on Oct. 12, 2012.
Labriola said the party will coalesce around the winner of the primary. But he also said the GOP, which lags behind the Democrats in terms of both organization and funding, cannot wait until Aug. 13 to gear up for the general election.
“We’re committed to building out our campaign infrastructure and ground game with an eye toward the November general election,” Labriola said.
“We don’t have the luxury of waiting until August to begin this effort,” he added. “The one thing about political campaigns is that the calender shows no mercy. The product of our efforts will benefit whoever our eventual nominees will be.”

Malloy Heading to Nashville for National Governor’s Meeting

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Gov. Dannel Malloy is flying down to Nashville, Tenn., today for a meeting of the “Council of Governors” to talk with nine other state chief executives about stuff like homeland defense, national security and National Guard issues.

The congressionally authorized “Council of Governors” is a perfect chance for an incumbent-who-is-running-for-reelection like Malloy to appear gubernatorial and talk about national issues. Connecticut’s Democratic first-term governor is suffering from low approval ratings and faces what is expected to be a very tough election in November.

Gov. Dannel Malloy

Gov. Dannel Malloy

But today’s event is only the beginning of Malloy’s trip. On Friday and Saturday, he’ll  be attending the National Governors Association summer meeting that is also happening in Nashville.

Which, of course, gives him plenty of additional opportunities to appear gubernatorial and perhaps boost some of his poll numbers.