For those familiar with the politics of personal destruction, it will not come as a surprise to learn that the National Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has compiled a “Dirt Book” on Mark Greenberg.
Mr. Greenberg is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Connecticut’s 5th District, a seat presently held by Democrat Elizabeth Esty, the wife of Daniel Esty, appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy to head the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Mr. Esty arrived at DEEP from Yale University and announced his intention of returning there in January. He was replaced by Rob Klee, chief of staff of DEEP under Mr. Esty. Mrs. Esty defeated Andrew Roraback, since appointed by Mr. Malloy to Connecticut’s Superior Court. Mr. Greenberg engaged in the 2012 Republican primary but stepped aside after the his party’s nominating convention had settled upon Mr. Roraback, a fiscal conservative whose positions on social issues were left of center.
The 5th District has in the past elected both Republicans and Democrats. Presently, there are no Republicans in Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation, moderate Republicans such as Mr. Roraback all having been displaced by progressive Democrats. The U.S. House has been held for some time by Republicans and is not likely to change hands after the upcoming elections. The presence of Mr. Greenberg in the Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation likely would improve the state’s negotiating posture in Congress, a possibility that almost certainly is not mentioned in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Dirt Book. In the past, a Congressional delegation split between Democrats and Republicans had been considered a useful political distribution of forces.
It is not the business of Dirt Book writers to include in their data information complimentary to the political target they wish to destroy. The Dirt on Greenberg might be useful to the Esty campaign and to those in the media who wish to see her campaign prosper, particularly if the Esty campaign is able to disassociate itself from questionable campaign tactics the consequences of which may never-the-less be helpful to her campaign.
“The 99-Page 'Research Book' Prepared By National Democrats For Attacks On Greenberg” was discovered by Hartford Courant investigative reporter Jon Lender as he was preparing a story on Mr. Greenberg that included information trickling down to him from sources unnamed in his story, “Greenberg Was Sued Many Times Says Litigation By Tenants Others Was Routine.”
While checking on the leached data, Mr. Lender stumbled upon “an intriguing discovery: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has created a 99-page ‘Research Book’ on Greenberg, which is available online if you know where to look for it.”
The book on Mr. Greenberg, Mr. Lender notes, “lists not only past lawsuits against him, but also biographical information — such as: ‘Mark Greenberg identifies as Jewish’ and ‘has no history of a criminal record’ or of bankruptcy. It also includes what are referred to as ‘extreme statements,’ such as, ‘I don't know of anyone more conservative than I am.’"
The suits mentioned in the Dirt Book, all of which appeared to have been settled to the satisfaction of the parties involved, have been dismissed by the Greenberg camp as routine in the case of large property owners.
Mr. Lender notes it would appear that the Dirt Book might “be of use to a political action committee or ‘super-PAC’ that wanted to make a commercial opposing Greenberg, but is banned from coordinating its efforts with the DCCC by regulations on ‘independent expenditure.’"
In modern political campaigns, both dirt and money are difficult to trace back to sources. Both are swept into campaigns by unpaid outliers who appear to be non-partisan; fingerprints are smudged; political charges remain amorphous; reporters and commentators are used by “non-partisan” groups as torpedo tubes. And those charged with improprieties are left to dangle from nooses woven by the well paid architects of personal destruction.
Much to his credit, Mr. Lender has identified in his story the source from which the Greenberg dirt may be delivered to various campaigns. Individual campaigners may pick and choose as they like from the mud campaign pantry. But one must be very careful in Mr. Greenberg’s case.
The charge that Mr. Greenberg is a Jew – and a wealthy landlord who has been sued to boot – may strike some people in Connecticut as noxiously inappropriate. After all, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, who several times had falsely claimed that he served in Vietnam, is also a wealthy Jew – indeed the fourth richest Congressman in the Senate. Unlike Mr. Greenberg, who earned his wealth the old fashioned way, Mr. Blumenthal married into wealth acquired through property ownership; his father-in-law owns the Empire State Building, in addition to other valuable properties, and very likely has been routinely sued. Tony Harp became Mayor of New Haven after it had been reported in most news outlets in Connecticut that her deceased husband was the most egregious tax scofflaw in the city that elected Mrs. Harp Mayor. Mr. Malloy, who may possibly be in receipt of the Dirt Book on Greenberg, stumped joyously for Mrs. Harp in New Haven.
And Congresswoman Esty was the default winner in her 2012 primary against former State House Speaker Chris Donovan, who had been “considered a strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination,” according to a Courant report. Mr. Donovan, who “enjoyed strong labor-union support and political momentum as he won the endorsement at the Democrats' mid-May convention in the district,” fell by the wayside after the “federal prosecutors' May 31 announcement of their arrest a day earlier of Robert Braddock Jr., the finance director for Donovan's campaign, for allegedly trying to conceal the origin of thousands of dollars in contributions to Donovan.”