Author Archives: Christopher Keating

Blumenthal Hails VA Compromise

by Categorized: Richard Blumenthal Date:

By MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Hours before a $17 billion emergency funding deal for the Department of Veterans Affairs was announced in Washington, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal hailed the compromise during a brief event in Hartford.

Addressing reporters and some members of the public during a noontime availability in the Legislative Office Building, Blumenthal said the legislation would attempt to alleviate long wait times and questions of healthcare quality at the VA by hiring new doctors and funding private care for some veterans.

“These negotiations have produced a bipartisan agreement that is the beginning of really good news for veterans’ health care,” he said.

Referencing the price tag, he added: “This is a big bill, but it deals with a big problem.” Continue reading

Sen. Blumenthal To Introduce Bill on Sex Assault Soon

by Categorized: Richard Blumenthal Date:

By MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Senator Richard Blumenthal  is preparing to announce legislation to combat and respond to sexual assault on college campuses, he said on Monday.

Speaking to Capitol Watch after a press conference on the emergency funding bill for the department of veterans’ affairs, Blumenthal said that he and Senate colleagues Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, may introduce the sexual assault legislation by the end of the week. Blumenthal, McCaskill, and Gillibrand have been vocal in their attention to campus sexual assault and how schools adjudicate those cases.

Blumenthal is an alumnus of Harvard University, a school that, with others, has recently come under national scrutiny for the way it handles reports of sexual assault. The senator said that he and other lawmakers have been in contact with leaders of various institutions about the issue, including Harvard President Drew G. Faust.

This May, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law new regulations for how Connecticut campuses deal with and report cases of sexual assault.

As Congress is approaching its traditional August recess, indications are that the bill won’t be considered until lawmakers return after Labor Day.

Dodd Likes Pelto, But Supports Malloy In Tight Race For Governor This Fall

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Chris Dodd, Congress, Connecticut, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd goes way back with fellow eastern Connecticut Democrat Jonathan Pelto.

When asked if he has known Pelto for about 30 years, Dodd responds, “Actually longer than that.”

The relationship goes all the way back to the mid-1970s before Dodd became a prominent member of the U.S. Senate and a national political figure as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Bill Clinton.

“Jonathan was about 12 or 13 years old when I was a freshman member of the House when I received a paper from a young man in Storrs, Connecticut on energy policy,” Dodd told Capitol Watch recently in an interview. “I put it in the Congressional Record. The author was Jonathan Pelto.”

Fast forward to 2014 and Pelto is now gathering signatures in an attempt to get on the ballot in the race for governor. Despite his long relationship with Pelto, Dodd says he will be voting for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“I have great admiration for Dan Malloy,” Dodd said. “He’s not a back-slapper. He’s not a glad-hander. I don’t need someone to make me feel good with rhetoric. He’s trying to get our state in a good, strong place. I’d rather have a leader like than than someone who makes me feel good. I like Jonathan, but I’m a Dan Malloy guy.”

3 GOP Lt. Gov. Candidates In First Major TV Debate Sunday

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

The three Republican candidates for lieutenant governor faced off in their first major debate Sunday, touting their backgrounds and saying they are all pro-gun candidates who support the Second Amendment.

All three said their backgrounds in both the public and private sectors make them the best candidate for the second-highest ranking elected position in the state.

State Rep. Lisa Marie “Penny” Bacchiochi of Stafford Springs, former Groton mayor Heather Bond Somers and former U.S. comptroller general Dave Walker of Bridgeport sat side by side in a television studio at NBC 30 in a “mini-debate” that lasted about 15 minutes.

The aspirants are facing off in the August 12 Republican primary, and they all said they could serve with either Greenwich business executive Tom Foley or Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield – who are running for governor in the same primary.

Host Gerry Brooks noted that none of the three are well-known statewide, which is expected to change with the TV broadcast Sunday and then another debate on August 3 on WFSB-TV, Channel 3 with longtime host Dennis House.

All three candidates received an “A” recently from the National Rifle Association on gun control, while McKinney received an “F” because he voted in favor of the gun control bill that was signed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after 28 people died in the tragic shootings in Newtown in December 2012.

Continue reading

Ernie Newton Seeking Redemption And His Old House Seat In Bridgeport

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

BRIDGEPORT — When former state Sen. Ernie Newton campaigned door-to-door recently here in his hometown, not a single person asked about the federal prison term he served on felony charges in a political corruption scandal.

No one asked about an additional seven criminal charges that are still pending against him in a separate case of campaign finance fraud.

And no one asked about his bold statement, in the pouring rain before pleading guilty in 2005 to three felonies, that he was “the Moses of my people.’’

Instead, Newton was greeted on the campaign trail as a conquering hero with hugs and waves from people he has known all his life.

Newton’s past and current brushes with the law, they said, would not stop them from voting for Newton again as he battles to regain his old state House of Representatives seat in the Aug. 12 Democratic primary. Newton served for 17 years in the state legislature before heading to prison, and he recently won the Democratic party’s endorsement in his hometown for his old seat.

He is now facing challenger Andre Baker, a former eight-year city council member who was the highest vote-getter for the city’s school board. Baker was forced to gather signatures to get a spot on the ballot, but he is backed by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, who once served with Newton in the House and is now clashing with his former colleague. Baker has raised nearly twice as much money as Newton, but they both agree that the door-to-door campaigning will make the difference in the impoverished, high-crime district.

The outspoken Newton freely admits that he has had problems with the law, but he rejects critics who decry his ethics and criminal violations.

“They sound self-righteous. We call them, in the Bible, Pharisees and Sadducees,’’ Newton said in an interview. “I don’t care what the Pharisees in Hartford say.’’

After spending nearly five years in prison and a halfway house for accepting $5,000 in cash bribes and other crimes, Newton says he is not apologizing to his constituents or anyone.

“No, I did that,’’ Newton said. “It’s over. I’m not doing that no more because I’ve been forgiven.’’ Continue reading

Hillary Clinton Draws Large Crowd To Madison Book Signing

by Categorized: Richard Blumenthal Date:

MADISON — Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state who is said to be considering a run for president, drew hundreds of people who waited hours to meet her at a book signing Saturday.

“I shook your husband’s hand when he ran,” one woman told Clinton at the R.J. Julia Booksellers. “We will vote for you. Me, my husband, and my mother will vote for you.”

Clinton, without committing to a run for president in 2016, politely said, “Thank you.”

Clinton’s main focus was on her book “Hard Choices,” and she spent two hours greeting people and signing copies.

“It’s got a lot of inside accounts, and a lot of it is becoming newly relevant,” Clinton said, adding that she had been intimately involved with a number of now-evolving foreign policy matters, including the clashes between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“I negotiated a cease fire in Gaza, and now it’s broken,” she said.

Those who bought a ticket in advance received a copy of “Hard Choices” and waited in line for up to six hours before Clinton started signing. But many said they did not mind the wait.

“We need a woman in the White House to get this country moving again,” said one Clinton fan, Susan Uguccioni of Glastonbury, who added that she had been waiting for four hours. “We’re more than ready [to meet Clinton].” Continue reading

Busway Construction Causes Shutdown Near State Capitol For Weekend

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, Tom Foley Date:

The construction of the new busway will cause an exit to be closed this weekend near the state Capitol.

The eastbound off-ramp on Interstate 84 will be shut down at exit 48A for the entire weekend, according to state officials.

The closure is scheduled to begin at about 10 p.m. Friday, and motorists will be directed to take a detour to the adjacent Capitol Avenue exit, which is heavily traveled on weekdays among those headed to the state Capitol and the adjacent Legislative Office Building.

The exit’s off-ramp is scheduled to be all clear by 5 a.m. Monday as commuters start heading back to the Capitol and nearby offices.

Backed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the busway has been heavily criticized by some lawmakers and Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield. The most recent criticism came during the Republican gubernatorial debate at The Hartford Courant, where McKinney referred to the project as the “busway to nowhere that nobody is going to use.” Continue reading

Tom Foley on Gun Control After Debate

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

By Matthew Q. Clarida

After the Republican gubernatorial debate Thursday at The Hartford Courant headquarters, reporters asked Greenwich business executive Tom Foley to clarify his position on gun control and the bill that was signed following the deaths of 28 people in Newtown in December 2012.

Foley was asked: “Can you say simply, do you favor the restriction on large-capacity magazines and [on the] semi-automatic rifles that were affected?”

Foley responded, “Listen, what I have said is, if I had been governor at the time, the bill would have been very different. It would have focused on crime in our cities and it would have focused on the mental health issues that I think were behind the Newtown massacre, but I wasn’t governor so I don’t have to articulate and outline a bill, because I don’t have the staff to do that…”

A second veteran reporter asked, “But what do you think about the firearm provisions of the bill?”

Foley responded, “Well listen, there are a lot of people in the state of Connecticut who believe they have a fundamental right under the Constitution to own firearms and to be able to do so freely, and I think that this bill unnecessarily restricted some of the rights of lawful gun owners. So I don’t support that part of the bill, and I think that there are a lot of things that should have been included in the bill but weren’t. So I’ve been very clear on this.” Continue reading

Gov. Christie Raising Money in Greenwich Monday Night For State GOP

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is coming to Connecticut on Monday night to raise money for state Republicans, and both the state Democratic Party and gun-control advocates are 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 recently.

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. Continue reading

Foley: McKinney Distorted Radio Clip

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

By Matthew Q. Clarida

A recent television commercial by Republican gubernatorial hopeful John McKinney contained audio from WNPR that was significantly edited, according to an original version of the clip provided by the radio station.

In the commercial, Tom Foley, McKinney’s rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, is heard saying, “I’m not going to cut spending.”

But according to WNPR, Foley actually said the following: “I’m not saying I’m going to cut spending; I’m saying I’m going to hold spending flat.”

The station posted the clip from its morning show ”Where We Live,” which when played showed that two of Foley’s words (“saying” and “I’m”) had been edited out of the clip in the McKinney ad.

McKinney’s spokeswoman, Jodi Latina, told Capitol Watch on Thursday night that the editing “doesn’t change the meaning.’’

Later, McKinney said, “After dodging questions and distorting my voting record, Tom Foley clearly lost today’s debate and in a Malloy-like tactic is trying to change the narrative. Our television ad offers an edited version of a statement he has made repeatedly throughout this campaign: Tom Foley won’t cut spending, he will “flat-fund” spending. He repeated this very statement in today’s debate. There was absolutely nothing misleading about our ad or its presentation of Tom Foley’s position.” Continue reading