Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blumenthal’s Two Hats, Two Heads And Two Faces

Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy, clearly a partisan, has called upon Attorney General and Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. Senate Richard Blumenthal to surrender his position as attorney general, the sooner the better.

Healy makes the following points in a press release:

1) “It is clear that Dick Blumenthal wants the taxpayers to subsidize his campaign strategy, thereby hiding from reporters and voters with legitimate questions on his policy positions and record, while issuing press releases from his AG’s office to sue entities that suit politically. If you notice, many of these suits provide him with national and state media exposure.”

2) The attorney general’s office has become something of a shield, protecting the prospective U.S. Senator from exposure to media scrutiny: “A series of missteps, evasions of his record and bad publicity has caused Blumenthal to hunker down in his office, rarely appearing before microphones after nearly 20 years of being a ubiquitous media machine. Dick Blumenthal is now in a taxpayer financed secure location. If he wants to be the U.S. Senator for Connecticut, he should step out in the light and make his case, not pretend that his work is so important that the professional staff at his office couldn’t cover for him.”
3) The attorney general’s office has become highly politicized under the last two occupants of that office, first current U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and, following him, prospective U.S. Senator Blumenthal. Therefore, Healy says, “It is fair to suggest that every time the Attorney General’s media machine kicks in from its perch, one should ask whether it’s for the betterment of Connecticut or Dick Blumenthal’s Senate campaign. Dick Blumenthal should leave no doubt about this conflict and either step down or respond to questions from voters – who pay his salary – and his opponents.”
The attorney general – or is it the prospective U.S. senator? -- recently came under fire from Connecticut’s Media on a few counts: He had lied several times concerning his service during the Vietnam war. That issue, driven by an out of state media, has been fairly ventilated. But the lashes Blumenthal had received by the national press had forced the attorney general – or is it the prospective U.S. senator? -- to take refuge from the slings and arrows hurled at him by absenting himself from media opportunities.

Once ubiquitous, writes award winning journalist Ken Dixon, Blumenthal has now disappeared into a hidey-hole: “Such is the new Dick Blumenthal. Formerly laughably ubiquitous and always available for a quote, he is now in the bunker officially. Having just called his attorney general office, where he supposedly works for the people paying his six-figure salary, the Blogster was told to await a news release. Beautiful. Such high stakes, such official reticence. Who’s the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate? Some write-in candidate named Jeff Russell. Maybe he’d like to comment on the US Supreme Court decision today on the Chicago hand gun ban. Of course, it was Blumenthal, not Russell, who successfully argued the ban in state court and in the state Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the ban nearly 15 years ago.”

Now, the obvious question to put to prospective U.S. Senator Blumenthal is whether he would, as a U.S. senator, support the Chicago gun ban. The problem is that the head that answers the question sits on the shoulders of Attorney General Blumenthal, and it may not be convenient for the attorney general to answer the question. To what extent will assertions made by prospective U.S. Senator Blumenthal screw up, so to speak, his status as attorney general?

When former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez was about to be brought into court on charges that could carry a 50 year prison sentence, Attorney General Blumenthal was cordially invited to repudiate his old friend and political stalwart. He declined, grievously disappointing Courant columnist, blogger and Connecticut Public Broadcasting Newtwork talk show host Colin McEnroe, who wrote: “I think it's fair to ask Richard Blumenthal, who has announced his intention to use the fairly new pension and benefits law against Perez, why he saw fit to endorse Perez in 2007 when the basic facts of the renovations case against Perez were a matter of record? These facts haven't changed much at all from then until yesterday, when they were good enough to make six people return guilty verdicts. Why weren't they good enough to make Blumenthal withhold his endorsement?”

After Perez’s conviction, Blumenthal eagerly and quickly pointed out it was he who pressed upon the legislature the statute that now allows him to revoke Perez’s pension. Hours after the conviction, Attorney General Blumenthal was writing to Chief Stare’s Attorney Kevin Kane, “I intend, at the earliest possible time and in consultation with your office, to seek an order revoking his pension.”

The obvious question to put to prospective U.S. senator Blumenthal is this: As U.S. senator, would the present attorney general, who has vowed to give up his position after the general election in November, press his fellow senators in the U.S. congress to pass a similar federal law? The journalist who put that question to Attorney General Blumenthal is still awaiting an answer from prospective U.S. senator Blumenthal.

It has become very difficult to get honest answers from the elusive Blumenthal lately.

Is Blumenthal hiding from Connecticut’s media? You betcha. Are the two highly politicized positions he is juggling incompatible? You betcha.

Should Blumenthal resign his attorney general position while running for the U.S, senate?
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