Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blumenthal, The Next U.S. Senator From Connecticut, Loses Another One.

In what Courant reporter Dave Altimari called “a stunning verdict,” a Superior Court jury in Waterbury yesterday awarded Gina Malapanis, owner of Computers Plus Center Inc., $18 million after finding that state officials had “ruined her business with false claims that she had broken her state contract.”

In a press release sent to various state newspapers in March 2003, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that he was “pursuing law enforcement actions related to contractor irregularities” against Malapanis’ company.

Blumenthal claimed the company had installed generic memory chips in computers sold to the state rather than chips installed by the computer maker and demanded $1.7 million from Malapanis in a civil action. Blumenthal also worked in tandem with Connecticut’s Chief State Attorney and the Department Of Information Technology (DOIT). In a parallel criminal action, Malapanis was arrested at her home by Hebron police. But the charges were dropped after her business had been effectively hobbled.

Previous legal documents shed light on Malapanis’ counter suit. In a complaint brought against Blumenthal seeking damages, Malapanis alleged:

“… procedural and substantive due process violations in that ‘Regan and Blumenthal recklessly and maliciously referred the matter to the [Connecticut State Police, as a result of which Malapanis’ property was seized’; that ‘Regan and Blumenthal recklessly and maliciously issued a press release that contained false information;’ that ‘Regan provided false and misleading information on his affidavit in support that he had probable cause for a PJR action;’ that ‘Blumenthal refused to correct the fraud upon the court regarding the false formation;’ that ‘[t]he actions of the defendants were in excess of their statutory authority as officials of DOIT and the State of Connecticut;’ and that ‘the accusations by DOIT and the defendants that Malapanis and CPC was a non-responsible bidder and that Malapanis and CPC likely committed larceny are unfounded, libelous, slanderous and made without due process of law.’”
Malapanis also claimed procedural and substantive due process violations under the Connecticut Constitution. She claimed that “the defendant state officials conduct constituted a taking of Malapanis’ property without just compensation.” Malapanis alleged “abuse of process, defamation, tortious interference with contractual relations, and a violation of the Connecticut Antitrust Act. She sought money damages, punitive and exemplary damages, treble damages, costs, and attorneys' fees against defendant Regan, Bannon, Miller-Sullivan, and Blumenthal in their individual capacities.” Malapanis also sought an “injunction ordering the defendants to expunge all records that relate the Malapanis and CPC being a non-responsible bidder; an injunction restoring the 2001 Contract to CPC and Malapanis, and an injunction requiring defendants Blumenthal and Regan to issue a press release and publicly withdraw their allegations against Malapanis and CPC made at the March 17, 2003 press conference and in the press release.”

Blumenthal is contesting the jury verdict while he holds on to his position as Attorney General and runs for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.

Charges of fatally defective affidavits, the taking of property without just compensation and tortious interference with contractual relations will seem wearily familiar to the Hoffman’s and to the owners of New England Pellet. The Hoffman case is detailed here, and the New England Pellet case is detailed here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Powell At The OK Coral

Chris Powell, the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer and a columnist for the paper, comes down in a recent column on the side of liberty, the First Amendment and campaign finance competition.

The prospect of corporate money flowing through the campaign finance system, Powell notes, is no more frightening than “the huge amounts already entering politics via the Federal Reserve, which has created hundreds of billions of dollars and bestowed them in secret on certain financial corporations, which in turn have spent some of the money in ways that retain or build their political influence.

“As government becomes more pervasive, there may be public interest in allowing corporations, as representatives of the ever-diminishing private sector, to push back more in politics. Yes, now corporations may more plausibly threaten to ruin politicians who cross them, but then government itself long has been making and breaking corporations. These days there's not much of the private sector left, now that the U.S. government has more or less formally merged with General Motors, AIG, J P Morgan, Chase, and Goldman Sachs.
Powell then exuberantly picks off both outgoing senator Chris Dodd, “…long the stooge of Wall Street and the foremost beneficiary of political contributions from financial corporations” and the newspaper that the Journal Inquirer is suing for plagiarism:
“Then there was the Hartford Courant, a subsidiary of Tribune Co., whose political influence long has been so great that for a decade it has obtained waivers from the Federal Communications Commission to operate two television stations in Connecticut in violation of longstanding rules against such cross-ownership. (Somehow this excessive corporate influence has never bothered Dodd or any other member of Connecticut's congressional delegation.) Even President Obama's criticism of the Supreme Court decision seems insincere and opportunistic, since his own campaign for president in 2008 was the biggest recipient of money from Goldman Sachs.”

A typical Powell column: When the shooting is over, a caravan of busses is needed to haul the corpses off to the boneyard.

Star Spangled Banner

The best rendition:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Contra Courant

The Hartford Courant is frightened – very frightened. And it wants you to be frightened too. What spooked the paper is a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that prevented lower courts from slicing and dicing the First Amendment.

Of course, the Courant does not fashion its editorial in these terms. There would be no profit in it, no fright factor.

The 5-4 decision, the Courant writes, is “lamentable; it sweeps away a century of “practice and precedent” and allows “torrents of corporate money to flood elections threatens to make our political system even more the playground of the rich at the expense of the average citizen.”

The paper calls upon President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to “do all they can to temper or reverse the baleful impact of the decision by the court's conservative majority.”

It is the possible results of the decision rather than the decision itself, left unexamined in the Courant’s breathless editorial, that has disturbed the editorial page writers at the paper: “As a result of the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporations have a right to spend as much money as they want — right up to the point the polls open — to advocate for or against a specific candidate. Could a Sen. Smith or a Congressman Cooper possibly refuse to play ball with the corporate big spenders? Not likely.”

The actual decision, written by Justice Kennedy, by no stretch of the imagination a conservative, is a boon to First Amendment rights, though one would never guess it by reading the Courant’s broadside.

One must commend the paper for its lofty indifference to an issue that directly concerns it. Such dispassion in the matter of First Amendment rights is remarkable in a publication that in the past has been in the forefront in aggressively pursuing freedom of speech issues not only for itself but for other organizations huddled under the Constitutional provision that says: “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The question before the court was whether federal campaign finance laws applied to A CRITICAL FILM about Senator Hillary Clinton that would have been shown in shown in theaters and on-demand to cable subscribers had it not been censored by an earlier court. The majority opinion stated that the earlier court decision violated First Amendment rights, and the Supreme Court struck down the decision.

The U.S. Supreme court decision struck down the provision of the McCain-Feingold Act that prevented corporations—for-profit and not-for-profit—and unions from spending freely from their own treasuries in the final days of political campaigns. The decision completely overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and partially overruled McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2002). The decision upheld the requirements for disclaimer and disclosure by sponsors of advertisements, and the ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidates, in part IV.

It is important to notice 1) that the Supreme Court decision does not affect the ban on direct contributions to candidates, and 2) that the oldest law struck down by the court was established in 1990, which falls considerably short of the "century of practice and precedent" the Courant claims was swept away in its decision. The court struck down the provision of the McCain-Feingold Act that prevents corporation, for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from spending freely from their own treasuries in the final days of political campaigns.

The court struck down the whole of Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and partially overruled McConnell v. Federal Election Commission because it had at long last realized that portions of McCain-Feingold were destructive of First Amendment rights, a perception that has not yet been grasped by editors at several of the nation’s top media outlets.

Before the Supreme Court correction, a superior court had ruled that it was legal and proper to ban a DOCUMENTARY – decidedly partisan, but not more so than the last few anti-Bush, anti-corporate documentaries produced by Michael Moore – from being shown a month before an election. Had the Supreme Court left the law untouched, BOOKS could have been banned under it auspices.

The court, in other words, saw the skiff of the First Amendment about to crash on the rocks of McCain Feingold and ordered a directional change over the heated objections of the New York Times -- and now the Hartford Courant.

The central perception around which opposition to the Supreme Courts restoration of First Amendment rights pivots is this: If unions and corporations are permitted to exercise their First Amendment rights one month before an election, vast oceans of money will be unleashed and elections will be decided by corporations.

A close examination of any election prior to 1990 would dispel this horror. If the statement were true, no president prior to 1990 who did not bear on his skin the mark of Satan – “owned by corporate entities” – could ever have been elected president. For that matter, no populist Democrat would ever have been elected to Connecticut’s 1st District, a position now held by John Larson, hardly a tool of the United States Chamber of Commerce. And even under the new dispensation, Larson has nothing to fear but fear itself.

According to campaign finance data, businesses tend to outspend unions. In the 2007-2008 cycle, businesses spent $1.96 billion, while labor and other interest groups spent $673.47 million. However, much to the chagrin of some Republicans, corporations have since 1990 almost evenly divided their contributions, 49.4 percent toward Democrats and 50.6 percent toward Republicans. Union political spending is more party focused. In the same period, labor unions gave 92 percent of donations to Democrats, while just 8 percent went to Republicans.

On the face of it, the fear that President Barack Obama will be swept out of office in his second term owing mostly to the recent Supreme Court’s decision is laughable. And in preferring laws and provisions ruinous to First Amendment rights over laws that hobble corporations a month before elections, the Courant has sold its First Amendment birthright for a mess of dubious pottage.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Citizen’s United Decision

In the quibble over whether corporations are persons – they are not – and whether as political or business entities they should not be entitled to full First Amendment rights, it has been forgotten how the Citizen’s United case arose.

In its decision, a lower court, averting to the McCain/Feingold and other restrictions, banned the publication of a DOCUMENTARY on Hillary Clinton that was to air prior to an election. The documentary, no less partisan than any created by Michael Moore, winner of the prestigious Palm D’Or award, was – no one will deny – political speech protected by the First Amendment.

In striking down the restrictive laws that banned the publication of the documentary, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the First Amendment’s protection of political speech. At a very basic level, the decision is a win for free speech rights. And those who have told us countless times that the First Amendment allows political speech that is offensive to some cannot plausibly argue that the Hillary documentary, banned by an earlier decision, was offensive to the good political tastes of Democrats, or that Hillary Clinton had been “swift boated” in the documentary by partisan Republicans.

The New York Times, itself a corporation, in despair over the decision, argued the court’s ruling was a “blow for democracy” that would enable corporations “to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections.”

Over at the Harford Courant, Colin McEnroe, who writes for a corporation and entertains people on a radio program associated with a different corporation, echoed the Time’s view: “See, I would have thought the floodgates were already open, but apparently Chevron and General Electric and AT&T have huge stinking ponds of even more money than they usually spend. The biggest danger from now on is that some candidates may get hurt by the huge sacks of money that will be thrown at all of them.”

The Supreme Court decision leaves intact laws dating from 1907 that prevent direct contributions to candidates. And the majority of corporations are not behemoths like, say, Lehman Brothers, frequent campaign contributors recently bailed out by the Bush and Obama administrations. Most corporations are small companies and non-profits. And the assumption that larger companies are not disposed to make contributions to Democrats is a mind-numbing myth.

Here in Connecticut, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Linda McMahon, now running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, has come under fire for making political contributions to (Gasp!) Democrats. The number-one donor to President Barack Obama’s campaign was Goldman Sachs.

Rather than place the First Amendment on a Procrustean bed where political liberties are hacked off, is it not less damaging to the Republic to allow unrestricted political speech while requiring full disclosure -- so that citizens, rather than courts and legislatures, may be able to punish at the voting booth both contributors and politicians who accept tainted funds?

The notion that the free speech rights of corporations may be curtailed because corporations are not persons is the blindest of blind alleys. There is no corporation in the United States that does not contain people fully invested in their constitutional rights.

Corporations are groups of private individuals who have political and legal rights. The government should not feel free to violate the 4th amendment by raiding the offices of the local paper and seizing its computers on the pretext that news corporations are not individuals. Corporations have First Amendment rights. Individuals do not surrender their rights when they come together to act collectively, otherwise rights of assembly and common action would disinvest individuals of their imprescriptible constitutional rights.

States, newspapers, towns and political parties are co-operating entities akin to corporations. There is no practical difference between a corporation and a political party.

The whole of McCain/Feingold should be struck down as destructive to constitutional liberty, and there are questions that the anti-corporate demagogues should pause to answer: Why should George Soros be fully invested in his First Amendment rights, while documentary makers, artist co-operatives, the ACLU, National Public Radio and unions are stretched on a corporate procrustean bed and deprived of the full participation of their First Amendment right to free political speech?

Thanks to McCommas (see comments) a summay of the case is provided by the CATO Institute:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Martha Coakley = Dick Blumenthal = Chris Dodd

One might express mathematically a Republican strategy for winning departing Sen. Chris Dodd’s congressional seat in this fashion: Martha Coakley = Chris Dodd = Dick Blumenthal.

Coakley is the Massachusetts attorney general who lost to a relatively unknown Republican candidate her bid to occupy the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat. Towards the end of her failing campaign, Coakley brought in the once famously popular President Barack Obama to stump for her. After the stumping and the stomping, and following Coakley’s Daedalus like decline in the polls, the White House now seems particularly anxious to remove its fingerprints from the failed campaign.

The Massachusetts and Connecticut campaigns are eerily similar. Functionally – except for a gubernatorial office that occasionally floats between the parties – both are one-party Democratic states in which elections are determined by independents who collectively outnumber Republicans. In both states, Democratic candidates vying for the U.S. congress have replaced two famous time-servers: Kennedy in Massachusetts and Dodd in Connecticut. Kennedy’s seat had been held by a member of the Kennedy family, first John and then Edward, for a half century or more; Dodd’s seat had been held by Chris and his father, Tom Dodd, for about 40 years. In both states, the Democratic candidates for senator are attorneys general, neither of whom shies away from publicity. Both Democratic candidates have expressed political solidarity with their predecessors. In a recent interview on “Face the State,” Blumenthal appeared in the cast off political skin of Chris Dodd and vowed to continue his work in the senate – more vigorously than had his political paradigm. Coakley sounded the same grace notes in her campaign.

The overarching economic, social and political landscapes in both states are so similar that it may be convenient, as well as accurate, to regard them as political Siamese twins joined at the liberal hip.

One of the reasons Coakley found it difficult to present a humble ambitionless aspect to Massachusetts voters is that the attorney general’s position precludes these virtues. There is not in the whole United States a humble attorney general undriven by a relentless ambition, not one who does not mug for the cameras or offer titillating press releases to a vanishing news media, sometimes at the expense of innocent victims they choose to despoil and wrongly prosecute. In this regard, Blumenthal’s hands are as soiled, if not more so, as many of his confederates. But for some reason a Shakespearean inversion occurs in the case of attorneys general: The good they do lives on after them; the evil is of’t interred with their bones -- or unexpectedly uncovered when the attorneys general pick up stakes and move on to greener political pastures.

There are important differences, of course. Blumenthal’s time before the cameras is more extensive than Coakley’s, and he is confident in his ability to distinguish between Red Socks and Yankee players. Neither Coakley nor Blumenthal’s car of choice is a pick up truck, and both subscribe heartily to Voltaire’s definition of the art of government: “In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class to give to the other."

Blumenthal has begun something of a listening tour around the state, a devise is sometimes used as a blind that permits long serving politicians from being pressed by a curious media into answering questions of moment about health care plans, the extent to which the national government should involve itself in business decisions, and the wisdom of allowing the U.S. Attorney General unilaterally to make decisions about trials that may impinge upon the war powers of the president, among other conundrums that cannot be settled by politicians lending their ears to their constituents.

The remains of Coakley’s shattered campaign have washed up on Connecticut’s political shores. At a recent meet and greet at Vito’s On The Water in Windsor, Brown’s name was much on the minds of Republicans courting support from Hartford, Windsor and Bloomfield.

Young Republicans feel the political sap rising in their veins. Justin Bernier, a senior legislative aide in the U.S. Congress who served in Afghanistan in 2007 as an intelligence officer, has been tearing up the turf in the 5th congressional district. Bernier, his feet firmly planted in the terra firma of the private sector, has a masters degree in economic policy and international relations. He is a dynamo that thinks. State Rep. Christopher Coutu, a hard charging campaigner and a superb political organizer, has expressed interest in state senate a seat held for years by octogenarian Edith Prague.

Prague thinks Coakley lost because she ran an inept campaign.

There is now a shortage of ineptitude in the new Republican Party.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scott Brown And The Massachusetts Resistance

Assuming the dead don’t vote in Massachusetts, it is very likely that Republican Scott Brown will win the election.
Just prior to the Massachusetts election, featuring heir apparent to the Kennedy legacy state Attorney General Martha Coakley and upstart Brown, The Hill reported that Dodd, “a longtime friend and ally of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), blasted the Republican candidate to permanently fill Kennedy's seat over Brown's stance against the health bill before Congress.

"’Health care was the cause of my friend Ted Kennedy's life,’ Dodd said in a fundraising letter for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

"’So it sickens me that the Republican running to take Ted's place is vowing to be the 41st vote to kill health care reform,’ Dodd added.”

Commentators and reporters who will in the short run determine the meaning of Brown’s successful capture of a seat that had been owned by Democrats for half a century will be chewing over the returns in the next few weeks - and spin already is in the air.

Would Brown’s win be a repudiation of universal health care, "the cause of Ted Kennedy’s life?"

That dread supposition has been bandied about in recent stories. An Associated Press lede on a front page story three days before the election read: “His health care plan in peril, President Barack Obama scheduled a last minute campaign trip to Massachusetts for Democrat Martha Coakley…”

Trips to Connecticut by Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic Big Guns were not enough to salvage Dodd’s tanking career.

In a hasty e-mail to Massachusetts Democrats, the President sought to change the subject from health care to Brown’s opposition to the president’s attempt to tax large Wall Street firms, in this the era of recession and bloated business bonuses, always a ripe political scapegoat. (MORE) Last February the Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts’ state health care program, Commonwealth Care, similar to plans floated by Democrats in Congress, would unexpectedly double in size and cost during the next three years. The president obligingly recorded pre-election robo calls for Coakley, and pro-Coakley negative ads that flooded the radio air waves days before the election were laced with toxic exaggerations.

Has Obama lost his Big Mo? The president’s dip in the polls does not bend the arc in the right direction. At this point in his presidency, Obama’s disapproval rating is higher than any recorded by Gallup at the beginning of an elected president’s second term. And it would be foolhardy for Democrats to suppose that preceding President George Bush’s policies were the efficient cause of Obama’s plunge in the polls. Both in his foreign policy and his response to the recession, Obama has followed in Bush’s wake, the chief difference being that Obama’s response is considerably more intense – and much more expensive. At this late point in his presidency, any finger-pointing in Bush’s direction by Obama and his subalterns looks remarkably like scapegoating.

The political backdrop in Massachusetts is not propitious. Politics in the state long has been showing the strains of a one party hegemon. Unchallenged effectively at the ballot box by an anemic Republican Party –now re-energized -- not only do the state’s incumbent Democrats feel free to say anything; they feel free to do anything, the essence of a suppurating corruption.

Asked whether Coakley’s defeat was related to sentiments about President Obama, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, quipped, “President Obama is not Martha Coakley in drag.” Coming from anyone whose boyfriend did not turn his appartment into a bordello, without serious repercusions to his electibility, the remark might have been amusing.

Ex-speaker of the House Thomas Finneran was disbarred a week before the election, having been found unfit to practice law after he pleaded guilty three years earlier to obstruction of justice charges. Former state Senator James Marzilli is up for trial on charges he accosted several women. And another ex-senator, Anthony Galluccio, was recently jailed for having violated the terms of his probation after fleeing the scene of a car accident.

During the last day before voting, Coakley rolled out the Democrats’ big gun: “"I wish there were easy answers to the tough problems we have. Do not forget that they are problems that were not created by, but inherited by, our president, Barack Obama."

It hasn't worked.

In a last ditch effort to pull the faggot from the fire, Obama poked fun at this Brown ad:

It didn’t work. Massachusetts voters like Brown’s truck – and the driver too.

Massachussetts don't like the Democratic product.

The automated phone calls were ineffective. The presidential appearance didn’t work. A poll taken before the election showed voters opposing the Democrat’s health care plans 48 to 40 percent. The enthusiasm meter for Coakley read “anemic.” A poll taken before voting showed 89 percent of self identified Republicans were “very excited” to vote on Tuesday; 68 percent of independents were similarly pumped up. Only 63 percent of Democrats were “very excited” to vote. On election day, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program put up a graphic showing Independents preferring Brown to Coakley by a 69% to 28% margin.

And it snowed.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Shortly before Christmas, President Obama signed an executive order designating
Interpol as an International Police Force, above the law, above the Constitution, and immune from legal and constitutional restraints.

Interpol was started in 1923. It operates in 188 countries. President Reagan under Executive Order 12425 in 1983 gave Interpol the immunity accorded foreign diplomats, which is limited. President Obama’s Executive Order 13524 removes those limitations, giving Interpol complete immunity.

Executive Order 13524 is short. It was issued on December 16 without explanation. It is entitled “Amending Executive Order 12425 designating Interpol as a Public International Organization entitled to Enjoy Certain Privileges, Exemptions, and Immunities.” It provides that property and assets of Interpol shall be immune from prosecution, its officers shall be free of certain taxes and customs duties, and its archives shall be closed to requests by law enforcement agencies and under the Freedom of Information Act. It gives Interpol elevation above the Constitution.

“This international police force will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States,” announced former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy in National Review Online. McCarthy is author of Willful Blindness. He prosecuted the blind sheik who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993.

The Obama Administration told the New York Times that the Executive Order is not “newsworthy,” which may account for why it has not been much discussed.

Interpol stands for International Criminal Police Organization. Its functions include seizure of property and assets. Assets could include human beings who could be arrested by Interpol officers. Just as the FBI provides enforcement for the Department of Justice, Interpol provides enforcement for the International Criminal Court. There is the danger of our armed forces in an unpopular war being arrested by Interpol and turned over to the International Criminal Court.

In that way, through Interpol, we could come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which President Bush explicitly rejected. Interpol works closely with foreign officials in Europe who are now investigating Bush administration officials for purported war crimes (i.e., their actions taken in defense of America).

Not only did President Bush reject the International Criminal Court, but he sought and secured agreement from other countries that they will not detain or turn over any members of our armed forces to the International Criminal Court.

To further minimize that risk, President Bush removed the name of the U.S. as a signatory to the U.N. law that set up the International Criminal Court.

President Obama has not yet taken a final position on the International Criminal Court, saying in 2008 that it is “premature to commit” to signing on the U.S. His former foreign policy assistant, Samantha Power, in an interview with The Irish Times in March, 2008, laid out the Obama roadmap: “Until we’ve closed Guantánamo, gotten out of Iraq responsibly, renounced torture and rendition, shown a different face for America, American membership of the ICC is going to make countries around the world think is a tool of American hegemony.” President Obama has praised the ICC for conducting its trials “in America’s interests.”

Andrew McCarthy asserts that Interpol can seize and confiscate property on the soil of the U.S. Ronald Noble, Secretary General of Interpol, disagrees. McCarthy commented in a recent radio interview that Interpol can do nearly anything: “Use your imagination.”

Ronald Noble says not to worry. That would never happen. Mr. Noble works in Lyon, France, but Interpol—the U.S. branch of it—works in the U.S. Department of Justice. Our justice officials work for it.

Sympathetic to Mr. Noble’s view is Senator Tom Coburn (R. Oklahoma). He told a recent Oklahoma town meeting, “We have not given up any sovereignty to Interpol. We use them. [But] I may be wrong to not be worried.”

Senator Coburn speaks of the present. Attorney McCarthy speaks of the future. They may both be right.

Could it be that Interpol is a precursor of the civilian national police force President Obama has stated and reiterated that he wants and that should be financed as well as the U.S. military?

By Natalie Sirkin

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bysiewicz, For What?

Kevin Rennie, an ex-legislator (Republican) and Courant columnist, continues to trouble the reining kakistocracy – this time Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.

Noting that the Secretary of State recently switched races from governor to attorney general, Rennie credits lawyer Ryan McKeen, who blogs at A Connecticut Law Blog, with upsetting the Bysiewicz apple cart: It was McKeen who first discovered that Bysiewicz had not “practiced law” for ten years, a statutory requirement of aspiring attorneys general.

Last Thursday, Bysiewicz maintained she had supervised lawyers in her role as Secretary of State, claiming this sufficed to satisfy the statutory provision.

“ She is wrong,” Rennie commented.

“The secretary of the state is not ‘a Connecticut state employee employed as an attorney for the state,’ as she certified each year when she claimed an exemption from paying the state Attorney Occupation Tax. Plenty of state officials oversee lawyers in their offices — that doesn't mean they are practicing law. Most of those supervising officials are not lawyers themselves and would not (could not) claim to be practicing law.

“State statutes set forth the duties of the secretary of the state. They say nothing about being a lawyer for the state. This development delighted many Democrats who have Bysiewicz's footprints on their heads. It also has rivals and detractors thinking she may not be as formidable a candidate if she didn't anticipate McKeen's question about 10 years of practice.

“Adding to Bysiewicz's bad week, a federal court refused to consider her amicus brief in support of the state's campaign finance law. She filed it too late. Turns out Bysiewicz doesn't like the law enough to participate in it, despite years of banging on about making the public pay for campaigns. She may have to take a break from fundraising to figure out again what office to seek.”
Rennie did not note that Bysiewicz has asked, though not formally, for an advisory opinion on the matter from partisan Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is hanging on to his office while he runs for senator.

Statutorily, the attorney general – who has either sued or threatened to sue everyone from fruit loop cereal makers to owners of wood burning furnaces -- is supposed to advise state agencies on legal matters. This is a legal matter, and both Secretary of State, as the title implies, and the attorney general’s office are state agencies. In the past, Blumenthal has been very swift in offering advisory opinions to legislators and other state officials on matters of law. But in this case, caution, for once, has caught up with him.

When asked by the media the same question put to him by the Secretary of State, Blumenthal remarked cryptically that Bysiewicz had not at the time of the inquiry "formally" requested an opinion. If Bysiewicz, having second thoughts, declines the invitation, any other office holder should request it of him.

Over at one of the most popular blog sites in the state, Connecticut Local Politics, bloggers were issuing advisory opinions on Bysiewicz’s querry left and right, so to speak.

Someone who styles himself “Fuzzy Dunlop” – not his real name, one hopes – pointed to Bysiewicz’s thin resume:

“The Attorney General is the state’s chief civil litigator and our chief law enforcement officer. SB’s resume is a little thin on things that make her qualified for this. During her time with both White and Case and Robinson Cole, she was a TRANSACTIONAL business attorney, not a litigator (concededly good experience for someone who wanted to be SoS). I doubt SB stepped foot in court more than a handful of times, if at all. Also, she has no background whatsoever in law enforcement (Dick Blumenthal was at least US Attorney, and was a civil litigator for an extremely aggressive law firm…. even her brother in law, Ross Garber… who’s dreams of running SB dashed by jumping in first without looking, is currently a litigator and personally represented the Rowland administration in court, arguing before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals).

“If the voter’s posted a job for Attorney General of the State of Connecticut in the 'Jobs' section of the Connecticut Law Tribune, then based on her experience, SB wouldn’t even get an interview."
 “I cannot understand the argument that AG is somehow a better fit for her than governor. Just because she has a law degree from a prestigious school doesn’t make her qualified to be the Attorney General.
“FINAL NOTE: Imagine you’re interviewing someone, and during the interview, they accidentally let it slip that if you hire them, they don’t plan on staying for longer than about a year or so before looking for a job with a bigger and better firm…. would you hire them? Because I sure as hell wouldn’t.”
FINAL, FINAL NOTE: And as if this business were not messy enough, the Journal Inquirer has noticed that Article XV, Section 3 of the state constitution provides: “Every elector who has attained the age of eighteen years shall be eligible to any office in the state, but no person who has not attained the age of eighteen shall be eligible therefor, except in cases provided for in this constitution.” No provision of the Constitution mentions a limit to service as attorney general congruent with the statutory limit cited above – which, therefore, appears to be unconstitutional.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Democrat’s Blue Ribbon Save Me’Arse Commission

The Harford Courant has gagged, editorially speaking, on a Democratic proposal to manfully discharge ever growing state deficits by – Who would have guessed? – assembling a blue ribbon commission to suggest ways the state may crawl out of the deficit hole fashioned by legislative leaders Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams.

The difficulty, according to the Courant, appears to lie in the composition of the commission:

“For one thing, the commission has 45 Democratic legislators and no Republicans, a needless and counterproductive exercise in partisanship that GOP leaders have rightly criticized.”

As a matter of policy, the commission will increase from 2, the legislative “leaders” named above, to 45 the number of people who will decide to do little or nothing in the way of cutting state spending; but the partisan Democratic commission will provide cover, about the width of a blue ribbon, to soften the boot in the bottom Dovovan and Williams so richly deserve from voters whose pockets are empty.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Money And The Democrats

A move is underway to re-invent Ned Lamont, who ran in a primary against war-mongering Sen. Joe Lieberman and won, losing to Lieberman in the general election.
Lamont presently is exploring a run for governor, so the campaign issues may be different. But the candidate is the same; different play, same actor.

It may be incautious so quickly to dismiss Lamont’s now discarded anti-war effort as irrelevant. Since Connecticut’s governor is in charge of the National Guard, the war issue is bound to come up in debate. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a former marine running for the U.S. Senate, declared recently on Face the State that he supports President Barack Obama’s “war of necessity” in Afghanistan. In addition to Afghanistan, Obama also has opened hostilities against Somalia and its pirates, the northern portion of Pakistan and possibly Yemen.

Democrats continue to make a distinction between ex-President George Bush’s “war of choice” in Iraq and Obama’s “war of necessity” in Afghanistan. It is supposed that Democrats supporting the war of necessity in Afghanistan are not likely to face the same critical scrutiny as other members of the U.S. Congress who supported the war of choice in Iraq.

But this will depend on who’s doing the scrutinizing. There is plenty of opposition on the left to Obama’s war of necessity and his coincident mini-wars. Those who found it easy to say of Bush that he should not have allowed the country to get bogged down in a Vietnam-like quagmire in Iraq, outgoing U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd once among their numbers, may find it awkward to give Obama a pass. Afghanistan is more tribal than Iraq; its terrain is more forbidding, and its government is even more corrupt, for now, than the U.S. Congress. Also, it does not bode well that Afghanistan has been known throughout history as “the graveyard of empires.” Obama’s difficulties in this regard will also be – to a lesser extent, to be sure – troubling for Lamont, as well as other Democrats running for national office.

For Lamont, ruffling the feathers of the anti-war contingent that supported him in a primary against Lieberman may be less an issue than money. Lamont, a redundantly rich Greenwich millionaire, has not yet taken the pledge to abide by the spirit of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws; and it looks like fortune this time may smile on those who have fortunes. Money may decide many important elections in the state. Lamont and Republican gubernatorial aspirant Tom Foley, and senatorial contenders Linda McMahon and Peter Schiff are all candidates of means. Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, declared unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court, now are in judicial and legislative limbo.

It seems certain that moneyed candidates -- and others who find it inconvenient to abide by the spirit, if not the unconstitutional letter, of Connecticut’s public financing laws -- will search out other unsavory campaign financing sources. Most are waving a vigorous farewell to campaign finance reform. Although not a millionaire, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, running this year for the attorney general position to be vacated by Blumenthal, feels no compunction in putting a “for sale” sign over her campaign. It should be noted in passing that Bysiewicz has grievously disappointed Colin McEnroe, a progressive Hartford Courant columnist and radio talk show host on Connecticut Public Broadcasting. McEnroe interrogated Bysiewicz at some length on a recent show but neglected to confront her on the question of the campaign finance reform laws she supported so ardently but quickly and cavalierly abandoned when it suited her purpose to do so.

The owner of the large shoes she hopes to fill, Blumenthal, has not sworn off accepting campaign contributions from various deep pocket sources with whom he may have done political business in the past, though he seems to be suffering from the delusion that the business community would be loathed to contribute to his campaign.

In modern politics, things don’t happen this way: First the moneybags try to buy your heart; and if you beat them off with a stick, satisfied with your ear, they ply you with money anyway. Rude manners have not in the past reduced contributions from suicide prone, sadomasochistic businessmen, an unshakable truth that can be confirmed by examining the contribution records of scores of time servers in the U.S. Senate who are big government activists like Blumenthal.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hitchens To Vidal -- Die

Christopher Hitchens, proclaimed with some fanfare by Gore Vidal as his literary “heir,” buries the master in Vanity Fair and plays taps for the old crank.

Yet Another Reason To Avoid The Met

"The Metropolitan Museum of Art quietly pulled images of the Prophet Mohammed from its Islamic collection and may not include them in a renovated exhibition area slated to open in 2011, The Post has learned.

"The museum said the controversial images -- objected to by conservative Muslims who say their religion forbids images of their holy founder -- were 'under review.'"
However, in American museums, not all faiths are equal.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The AG Scramble: Maid Marion To The Rescue

A number of Democrats and Republicans have expressed interest in running for the seat that is to be vacated by present Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has said he will not run again in that position.

The Connecticut Law Tribune explores some of the possibilities.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, both co-chairs of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Michael Lawlor and Andrew McDonald, have expressed interest. Somewhat like Chris Mathews at the advent of the Obama administration, the two are feeling tingling sensations shooting up their legs.

“George Jepsen, the former Democratic state chairman, state senator from Stamford and co-chair of the legislative Judiciary Committee, was quick to announce his interest in the race.

“Others mentioned as potential Democratic hopefuls included Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura, state Sen. Paul Doyle of Wethersfield, Sen. Jonathan Harris of West Hartford…

“’The whole landscape has shifted since I got up this morning – it’s quite an amazing day,’ said Doyle, 47, a conservative Democrat who has served for 14 years on Judiciary.

“’The AG’s position is different from the legislature. When you’re the AG, you’re no longer a policymaker – you’re the government’s and the people’s lawyer.’”
And King besides.

On the Republican side, Santa Mendoza, who previously ran against Blumenthal and lost, said she did not want to rule herself out of contention and characterized Blumenthal as “an ideologue who really questions the capitalist system at the core.”

Environmental lawyer Martha Dean, who lost to Blumenthal in 2002, has expressed interest.

Rep. Arthur O’Neill, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, is “mulling his options,” according to the CLT.

Still non-committal, Ross Garber, former Gov. John Rowland’s legal advisor during his impeachment, is being urged to run.

Prominent Republican legislative leaders Lawrence Cafero and John McKinney, both of whom opted out of the gubernatorial race, are listening to the angels of their better natures.

Kevin O’Conner, who would rather make money, has taken a pass.

“I recognize the timing might be just right for a run,” O’Conner said, “but I’ve done my stint in public service. I would like to return at a later time, but now is not the time.”

The CLT notes correctly that the nature of the office has changed over the years:

“The Blumenthal style, with its high public profile and Robin Hood attacks on utilities, banks and corporations, has its roots in the years when now-U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman was Connecticut’s attorney general.”

Perhaps Maid Marion could clean up Blumenthal’s mess.

Another Skeleton In Blumenthal’s Closet

After announcing his availability for a U.S. Senate position to be vacated at the end of Chris Dodd’s term, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal -- who has no plans to leave office during his campaign – mentioned several times in press appearances his ambition to serve the people of Connecticut in the U.S. Senate aggressively and energetically as he had while attorney general.

It is not too far fetched to imagine that the two former co-owners of New England Pellet (NEP), put out of business by Blumenthal two years ago on a charge of having committed or having intending to commit a fraudulent transfer, might wish the attorney general had been a little more attentive to the circumstances in their case. Less aggression and more energy might have been useful.

The fraudulent transfer charge was the SOLE charge, made in a sworn affidavit signed by Blumenthal’s “investigator” in the case, that allowed Blumenthal to attach all the business machinery of NEP, effectively putting the company out of business. That affidavit was presented in an ex parte proceeding to a judge who allowed the attachment of assets based on sworn statements in the affidavit. An ex parte proceeding is one in which an attorney or prosecutor may present charges before a judge in the absence of the alleged wrongdoer, not able in a timely manner to answer the charges brought against him.

Depositions taken by NEP attorney Jim Oliver show, among other failings of the NEP investigation, the “investigator” in the case had stated under oath he had no evidence at the time he signed the affidavit, or after, showing that NEP did or was about to fraudulently transfer assets, a fatal admission.

One of the principals of NEP recently swore out an arrest complaint with the Hartford police against Blumenthal’s “investigator” on a charge of perjured testimony. The “investigator” retired from the attorney general’s employ for health reasons. His responsibilities were taken up by another “investigator” in Blumenthal’s office who testified under oath in yet another deposition that he did not think it necessary to advise the attorney general to withdraw the flawed affidavit.

Relevant excerpts from the depositions may be found on the blog site, Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State. A blog entrée that treats the subject of this column in much greater detail, “Blumenthal, The Devil And The Details,” can be accessed by anyone with a computer, including Blumenthal or any investigative reporter who may be want to put to the attorney general the following questions:

1) Is Blumenthal aware that his “investigators,” and some of his assistant attorneys general, do not know that affidavits must be sworn by persons who have direct rather than hearsay knowledge of the events and charges they are reporting in their affidavits?

2) Does he know that his “investigator” acknowledged under oath in a sworn deposition that he never had formal training in the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, did not know what the act was and had never even read the act?

3) Does Blumenthal know, from a careful reading of e-mails between NEP and its supplier of pellets, that the supplier a) was under contract to supply a sufficient number of pellets to NEP to satisfy the orders of its Connecticut customers, b) that the supplier violated its contracts and agreements made to NEP via e-mail and shorted NEP -- as a result of which the company could not supply pellets to its Connecticut customers, c) that the supplier, according to e-mails available to Blumenthal’s “investigator,” offered to supply NEP pellets sufficient to fulfill the gap it had created by shorting NEP -- if NEP would surrender to it the New York and New Jersey territories developed by NEP? None in Blumenthal’s office dared called this extortion. It seems more than likely that they sued the wrong people.

4) Does Blumenthal know that his “investigator” was not the author of the affidavit he had signed under oath?

5) Does Blumenthal know that his “investigator” acknowledged, under oath in his deposition, that the affidavit was authored by the assistant attorney general Blumenthal requested to attend the deposition as the “investigator’s” legal representative?

6) Does Blumenthal know that the attorney for NEP has asked his office to withdraw its fatally defective affidavit?

If Blumenthal concurs that the affidavit is indeed faulty, after scrutinizing the facts in this case more circumspectly than he had in his initial highly misleading press release, WHEN will he fire everyone associated with the case who mishandled it?

Palin To Fox

Fox News has signed up yet another foxy news contributor -- Sarah Palin.

According to Politico:

“Fox said Palin will provide political commentary and analysis for Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox News-produced special event political programming for Fox Broadcasting.

“Palin will also host periodic episodes of Fox News’ “Real American Stories,” a series exploring inspirational real-life tales of overcoming adversity throughout the American landscape that will debut in 2010, the network said.”

Move over Katy Couric.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Should Greenwich Be Given Back To The Indians?

The Greenwich Time raises the question, sort of: Should we give Greenwich back to the Indians?

“If Hartford is the seat of Connecticut politics, Greenwich may just well be the throne.

“Home to Richard Blumenthal, Linda McMahon, Ned Lamont, Tom Foley and Jim Himes, the town of 61,101 known for bankrolling candidates is buying domestic in 2010.”

And then too, rising above all these midgets (see below), is the eminence of Lowell Weicker, who springboarded into state politics from Greenwich. Weicker is the father of Connecticut’s income tax. Connecticut’s legislature, controlled by Democrats, will not be kind to Greenwich as the state works its way through a mini depression towards insolvency. The spendthrift Democrats plan to dun the millionaires clustered in Greenwich and elsewhere in golden pockets across the state. Weicker, after he had saddled the state with his income tax, quickly moved out the range of fire – to fair Virginia.

But now he's back.

Weicker Rises To The Occasion

Lowell Weicker, never an ankle biter nor a midget, thinks that departing Sen. Chris Dodd will be missed, and in his own inimitable way bestowed the following compliment on Dodd:

“Always a gentleman on and off the floor of the Senate, Chris stands in sharp contrast to the ankle-biting midgets who populate today's politics.”
Well sure, but the height deprived among us are not likely to appreciate the back-handed insult.

Doing Business Under Senator Blumenthal

Dan Haar, a business reporter for the Harford Courant, thinks that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s entrée into the senate race will raise questions concerning the over-regulation of businesses.

"Dick Blumenthal is also the ultimate regulator of business, so deeply and thoroughly that his record of reining in corporate practices is likely to dominate the general election.

"Blumenthal is no ordinary clamp-down Democrat. He tried to halt layoffs at two of America's largest corporations, calling them illegal; he lobbied the Fed to cap credit-card rate increases; he twisted the arms of bankers evicting a family from a long-foreclosed house; he settled local and national industrial pollution cases; and he tried to stop the sale of outdoor wood furnaces."
Two political talking heads at MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd, neither of whom are rightists, discuss Republican and Democratic prospects and conclude: Democrats should worry. Events are now riding the presidency.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Battle For Attorney General

Facing abysmally low poll ratings, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd chose to bump himself off a few days ago, wherefore all the professional politicians who for years thought Dodd was bee’s knees breathed a huge collective sigh of relief.

Republicans scratched their heads in dismay when Caligula announced his availability for Dodd’s seat.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, never one to shy from a camera -- having waited what was for him a decent interval before Dodd’s corpse, metaphorically speaking, had been trundled off the stage, a mere two hours – jumped into the race and later made an appearance on Fox News the same day as Dodd’s valedictory.

Most pollsters have already anointed Attorney General Richard Blumenthal as Connecticut’s next U.S. Senator. But Professor Gary Rose, Chairman of the Department of Government and Politics at Fairfield University, is not quite ready to leap on the bandwagon. Rose has an issue with Blumenthal’s TV presence.

“There’s not the most appealing image on TV,” he said. “He looks anemic or gaunt. Not healthy. I don’t know if that’s going to play out. I think it could.”

A little pancake makeup might do wonders.

At least one Democrat who has had her eyes on the gubernatorial prize, the mercurial Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, is now looking lustily at the position, a political gold brick, that will be left vacant by Blumenthal. Bysiewicz told Shelly Sindland of Fox news that she was “assessing” a switch. Co-chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee Mike Lawlor who, along with his confederate in the senate, Andrew McDonald, attempted sometime back to rearrange the apostolic structure of the Catholic Church, is also assessing.

It’s hard to believe that the attorney General’s office used to be a part time position. It was current Sen. Joe Lieberman who made the office what it is today – a meandering mess without statutory borders, a baby step removed from a utopian tyranny. For as long as Blumenthal was and is attorney general, no one in the state was or is safe from his withering reach. Blumenthal, the state’s consumer-protector-in-chief, is the closest Connecticut has come to producing a vigorous, progressive, autocratic Caligula, the 1st century Roman Caesar who also had that lean and hungry look, the hallmark of utopianists come to save the earth from its folly.

The attorney general’s office has sovereign immunity from prosecution -- which means, if Connecticut’s Caligula violates your 14th Amendment Constitutional rights by depriving you of your property without giving you the opportunity to respond to his sometime fictional charges before a judge, you have no recourse to temper his behavior through a well deserved money suit.

What petty Caligula would not want to wield such unbridled and loathsome powers?

Bysiewicz, should she decide to jump onto Blumenthal’s empty shoes, will not be alone in the tousle for the gold brick.

In addition to Pope Lawlor and Bysiewicz, past chairman of the state Democratic Party George Jepsen has expressed interest. In an attempt to give a boot to the often berated Sen. Joe Lieberman, Jepsen accused the embattled senator of having exalted “morality over personal loyalty in excoriating President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, yet demanded personal loyalty from Connecticut Democrats in 2006 who opposed the Iraq war on moral grounds.”

At some point before assuming divinity like proportions as attorney general, Jepsen might want to walk that statement out the door since 1) even Bill Clinton, after a chat with his wife and his political handlers, more or less admitted moral culpability in inserting cigars in odd orifices; and 2) every Democrat’s dream president, Barack Obama, is now demanding personal loyalty from Connecticut Democrats who may oppose his efforts to make war upon Afghanistan, portions of Pakistan, the pirates of Somalia, and possibly Nigeria, the home of underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

As usual, the warmongering Lieberman is happy to oblige.

In any case, it might be real nice, from a Democratic point of view, if Joe were to lend his support to Blumenthal’s campaign; it might do some good, and it certainly would not hurt Jepsen in his effort to assume the mantle of Caligula.

Blumenthal, The Devil And The Details

Blumenthal And The Abuse Of Ex Parte Attachments

There is no rule on earth, Cardinal Henry Newman once said, to which there is not at least one exception.

Ex parte attachments of assets may best be viewed as an exception to the 14th amendment to the U. S. Constitution. That amendment, in its procedural due process clause, secures the citizens of the United States in their property, which ordinarily cannot be seized by agents of the state without a hearing before a judge. The 14th amendment requires the state to ensure that no one is deprived of "life, liberty, or property" without a fair opportunity to affect the judgment or result.

The exception is necessary because those accused of crimes – when found guilty – are called upon to surrender their assets as a part of their punishment, and an ex parte attachment prevents accused persons from disposing of their assets through fraudulent transfers or, in the case of drug kingpins, mobsters and career criminals, by using assets to bribe witnesses or to flee prosecution. Justice requires that those found guilty of breaking laws pay the penalty the laws assign.

Precisely because the ex parte attachment of assets is constitutionally exceptional, it is hedged about with statutory regulations to prevent its abuse by unscrupulous prosecutors and lawyers who may use the device to reduce to penury accused persons who are not guilty of wrongdoing. Statutory laws regulating the use of ex parte attachments, as well as unambiguous Supreme Court decisions, do not leave us at the mercy of litigators in white hats.

In an exparte attachment of assets, a prosecutor such as Blumenthal presents a judge with an affidavit from an affiant or testifier who must have direct knowledge of the putative criminal activity.

To illustrate this point, we may suppose the following set of circumstances: A bank has been robbed, and prosecutors are collecting affidavits to make an arrest and support a case at trial against the robbery suspect. It would be reasonable, useful and proper to obtain affidavits from those who have direct knowledge of events; say, the teller who was robbed, or all three people in a cash line who witnessed the robbery. It would be pointless to gather information from a reporter who filed a story about the robbery three days after it occurred because 1) the reporter’s information is hearsay and therefore inadmissible at trial, and 2) the law requires prosecutors to submit affidavits from people who have direct knowledge of putative criminal activity.

Incredibly, the affiant in the Hoffman case was, in the analogy above, the reporter -- the assistant attorney general prosecuting the case, Matt Fitzsimmons. And on the basis of the affidavit he supplied, a judge permitted Blumenthal to attach assets without giving the property owner the opportunity to contest in a timely manner at a judicial hearing the assertions in the affidavit. By the time the Hoffman’s, victims of an unscrupulous prosecution, were permitted to answer charges in the fatally flawed affidavit, their property and assets had long been expropriated. In such circumstances, the accused often are not able to afford a lawyer to represent them; their business and credit have been destroyed, which makes unethical deal making with unethical attorneys general a cinch – for the attorney general.

In the Hoffman case featured earlier on this blog, a Superior Court judge affirmed that Blumenthal had presented a fatally defective affidavit to seize assets owned both by Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman.

The seizure of Mr. Hoffman’s assets was highly irregular because he was not connected to his wife’s business, the subject of the complaints, and Blumenthal also used information he had to destroy Mr. Hoffman’s credit with his bank, which fatally interrupted Mr. Hoffman’s business.

In this blog, a close examination of the New England Pellet (NEP) case shines a bright light upon Blumenthal’s disregard for the procedural safeguards that prevent prosecutors from trampling upon the constitutional rights of property owners.

Blumenthal’s methodology, in this case and others, is by its very nature anti-legal if not illegal. Both the Hoffman case and the NEP case pivot on fatally defective affidavits and slipshod investigations. The Hoffman case shows how Blumenthal used the unchecked powers of his office to deprive both Hoffmans of their property through the use of a fatally defective affidavit: The attorney general has sovereign immunity and cannot be corrected by suits against him when he abuses his immunized powers. Affidavits in the NEP case were also defective. But in addition, the investigation that supported the defective affidavit used to seize all the business equipment of the joint owners of NEP was so unprincipled and slipshod that even now, more than a year after Blumenthal launched his first bombshell press release on the case, the attorney general has refused, in the face of strong evidence, to entertain the probability that he prosecuted the wrong people.

The New England Pellet Case Press Release

Blumenthal’s methods are unvarying. First comes the eye-catching journalistically salacious press release.

In his press release on the New England Pellet Case (NEP), the time Blumenthal spent as an editor of the Harvard Crimson while at college is not put to waste. With a flourish any carnival barker may envy, Blumenthal unveils his December 2008 suit, “filed in coordination with Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr.,” involving the co-owners of New England Pellet, Stephen Zaczynski and Jason Tynan. And he helpfully provides busy journalists with a slug flattering to himself they may use in their dispatches:

“New England Pellet burned its consumers -- taking their money and promising pellets that it knew it could not provide," Blumenthal wrote. "Consumers are paying twice for New England Pellet's callous conduct -- first for the thousands of tons of undelivered wood pellets and now for alternative, more expensive, supplies.

"My office will fight for a court order blocking New England Pellet from further consumer harm, as well as civil penalties and restitution for consumers. New England Pellet literally left consumers out in the cold -- accepting repeated pre-payment with absolutely no assurances it could provide anything in return."

The rest of the press release crackles with righteous indignation:

“Beginning in early March and continuing at least until the second week of October, New England Pellet offered to sell wood pellets for use in wood pellet burning stoves to Connecticut consumers. In many cases, the company pre-sold wood pellets at a fixed price per ton to be delivered to consumers at a later date during the summer, fall and winter.

“Owners Zaczynski and Tynan never reached any agreement with suppliers to provide New England Pellet LLC with enough wood pellets to cover their pre-paid customers. Despite this, Zaczynski and Tynan continued throughout the summer and fall of this year to accept prepayments for thousands of tons of wood pellets they knew they could not deliver.”

“The Enfield company admitted that by May 2008 it needed between 10,000 and 15,000 tons of wood pellets -- but a wholesaler, New England Wood Pellet of New Hampshire, informed New England Pellet as of May 2008 that it may only be able to supply one half that amount, and by June 2008 the amount the wholesaler could supply dropped to one quarter of the defendants' outstanding delivery obligations.

“New England Wood Pellet further warned the Enfield company that it risked losing any pellet shipment because of alleged intimidating and condescending emails it had received from the Defendants.

“By August of this year, New England Pellet failed to deliver thousands of tons of wood pellets to hundreds of pre-paid consumers. Despite knowing that it could not fulfill existing -- and surely future -- pre-pay contracts New England Pellet continued to accept pre-payments from consumers as late as the second week of October.

“As a result of New England Pellet's conduct, many pre-pay consumers were forced to purchase wood pellets from other suppliers at a higher price.

“Blumenthal's lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting New England Pellet and its owners from operating -- or participating in the operation of -- a wood pellet business or any other business involving acceptance of deposits or prepayments for goods. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties and restitution for consumers.”

The data provided by Blumenthal in his press release was aggregated by several newspapers both in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Blumenthal, good as his word, used an affidavit prepared by an investigator in his office, Patrick Ahlquist, to secure from a judge an ex parte seizure of assets, then expropriated all the business machinery of NEP, without which co-owners Zaczynski and Tynan could not satisfy the pre-orders of their customers, and by so doing quickly forced the company out of business – which doubtless produced for Blumenthal a host of dissatisfied customers whose complaints he could cite in future press releases and court documents to justify the ex parte seizure of assets.

An Alternative Reading Of The Data

The lawyer defending NEP, Jim Oliver – especially after information surrendered in a discovery process, as well as information gathered following a deposition of Blumenthal’s investigator, Ahlquist -- would put a different construction on the partial, misleading data supplied by Blumenthal in his press release.

Oliver claims in a third party complaint against New England Wood Pellet (NEWP) of New Hampshire, the wholesaler that supplied NEP with its product, that the wholesaler committed to a sum of between 5,000 and 7,500 tons of pellets, more than enough to meet the customer needs of NEP.

The wholesaler, NEP asserts in its complaint, cut its delivery of pellets to NEP, violating both the Uniform Commercial Code and its contract with NEP.

This all important datum is hidden in plain sight in Blumenthal’s press release: “New England Wood Pellet of New Hampshire, informed New England Pellet as of May 2008 that it may only be able to supply one half that amount, and by June 2008 the amount the wholesaler could supply dropped to one quarter of the defendants' outstanding delivery obligations.”

The press release does not indicate that pre-payment is usual in cases in which lower prices are locked in and shipment depends upon the contractual obligations of wholesalers to retailers. Reporters did not ask Blumenthal why “New England Wood Pellet of New Hampshire, informed New England Pellet as of May 2008 that it may only be able to supply one half” of its contractual obligation or why, in the next month, NEWP further defaulted on its obligations by reducing the pellet amount to NEP to one quarter of its contractual obligation.

The investigator in Blumenthal’s office who provided the attorney general with the factual content of the affidavit Blumenthal used to seize the assets of NEP might have answered these questions had he done a proper investigation. However, there was no need for a proper investigation: Blumenthal already had released his partial information to the press. There was no need for an investigation that might have identified the responsibilities and obligations of NEWP towards NEP and, derivatively, towards the customers whose plights were vividly described in his press release.

NEWP’s cutback created a shortage of pellets for NEP’s Connecticut customers. Under pressure from Blumenthal to provide pellets for their Connecticut customers, Oliver further asserts, the wholesaler made use of the shortage it had created to make demands upon NEP that the company surrender valuable, exclusive distribution contract rights NEP had secured in New York and New Jersey.

Mr. Zaczynski and Mr. Tynan had harrowed the ground, planted and nurtured the vines, brought in the harvest and pressed the grapes. But NEWP was determined to appropriate the vineyard and drink their wine.

Before Blumenthal’s suit, NEP, scrambling to make good on its obligations, had already refunded $140,000 to its customers and offered to put funds in escrow to insure that their customers received refunds. Despite these attempts to salvage their business, Blumenthal, making his usual rounds of the television stations, claimed NEP was not co-operating. In fact, after Blumenthal lept on the stage,  NEP offered to put in escrow $200,000, more than enough money to satisfy ever complainant; but Blumenthal, following his usual modus operandi, having seized NEP’s business machinery by means of an ex parte judgment, quickly terminated all attempts by NEP to recover from the shortages imposed on the company by NEWP’s violation of its contracts with NEP. His intervention made it impossible to satisfy NEP's dissapointed customers through promt refunds. This is not the sort of stragegy one expects of an attorney general who bills himself as a consumer advocate who fights to recover losses incurred by customers at the hands of unscrupulous businesses.

The alternative and more plausible reading of the facts massaged by Blumenthal in his press release suggests that NEWP, the wholesaler, violated its own contract with NEP and used the shortage it had created in Connecticut to force NEP to surrender to it NEP’s exclusive and valuable New York accounts.

When NEP advised Blumenthal that NEWP, abrogating its contract, had shorted NEP because it had designs on sales NEP had developed in New York and New Jersey, Blumenthal said that it did not matter for the purpose of his suit against NEP.

Both Blumenthal’s press release and the affidavit used by his office to secure an ex parte seizure of NEP’s assets were grounded on information compiled by the attorney general’s investigator, Patrick Ahlquist. That investigation was slipshod, to put it mildly, resulting in an affidavit that was consequently defective. The charges made in the affidavit -- as well as the press release and its damaging charges -- were imported without examination into several media stories that cast luster on Blumenthal at the same time they utterly destroyed the reputations of the co-owners of NEP, Zaczynski and Tynan, one of whom, suffering from Blumenthal’s attentions, attempted suicide.

The Depositions

Months after Blumenthal’s press release hit the newspapers and television stations, months after Blumenthal had seized NEP’s business equipment through the use of yet another faulty affidavit, months after the attempted suicide of one of the co-partners in NEP, Mr. Zaczynski and Mr. Tynan finally were able, through their lawyer, to exercise their 14th amendment rights to a fair opportunity to answer charges made by Blumenthal in his press releases.

That opportunity came when Mr. Oliver deposed under oath the two investigators in Blumenthal’s office connected with the case, Patrick Ahlquist and Stephen Hennessey

In his deposition of Ahlquist, then no longer employed by Blumenthal, attorney Oliver had an opportunity to revisit the spurious claims made in the affidavit signed by Ahlquist and used by Blumenthal to seize the assets of NEP.

What the investigator did not know concerning promised shipments of pellets between NEP and its supplier NEWP, as well as the contractual obligations between the two, was explored in the deposition.

Presenting  affidavit to Ahlquist, Oliver asked whether Ahlquist had investigated and certified that the claims made by the complainants were true. Beyond assuming that the charges made by the complainants were true, Ahlquist had not, for example, investigated whether any of the complainants had received charge backs on their orders, which could have been done by contacting credit agencies.

Q. And this is an affidavit that you signed?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Okay. And when you signed this affidavit, you knew that you were sworn to the truth of the facts and matters asserted herein?

A. Yes, sir…

Q. Okay. Let me ask you this, right off the bat: Who drafted this affidavit? Did you draft it?

A. No, sir.

The affidavit was drafted by an assistant attorney general in Blumenthal’s office who had been dispatched by Blumenthal to represent Ahlquist in an official capacity during his deposition. Under sworn questioning, Ahlquist acknowledged: that he did not draw up the affidavit he signed; that he had read paragraph 15 of the affidavit, which said “"I have read the foregoing, and it is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief”; that he understood the obligations of an oath; that the role he performed in assembling the affidavit drafted by an assistant attorney general consisted in providing the support information and investigative information contained in his incomplete files.

Oliver then probed to explore whether Ahlquist understood the difference between “personal knowledge” of the underlying consumer transactions he failed to investigate and “hearsay knowledge” of the transactions

Q. What is your understanding of personal knowledge?

A. Knowledge that you obtain through your own senses.

Q. Okay. Such as visually seeing an event occur or hearing an event occur?

A. That would be your senses, yes, sir.

Q. Would you agree that you were not present to witness or hear any of the consumer transactions that took place, that are the subject of this civil enforcement action?

A. Yes, sir...

Q. Okay. Would you agree that you do not have personal knowledge, as you have used that definition of the term "personal knowledge," with respect to any of the consumer transactions that are the subject of this sovereign enforcement action?

Ahlquist’s answer is convoluted because he has not grasped the difference between personal knowledge and hearsay knowledge.

A. I don't have personal knowledge. I have, you know, firsthand contact with the consumers, to and from.

Q. Right. We call that hearsay; correct?

A. I'm probably not in a position to --

Q. Well, you're a police officer; correct? You've testified in criminal matters?

A. I had direct communication with the consumers, as they related the story to me. Saying that's -- if I had direct

Q. That's hearsay knowledge, isn't it?...

Q: So the answer is you hadn't substantiated their claim with an investigation, and you simply assumed that what you were being given by them was true and accurate?

A. In most cases the office works on the strength of the consumer's written complaint.

Q. So the answer to my question is yes?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Why don't you simply get affidavits from the complainants?

A. I don't think I can answer that question, sir. I follow the protocol of the office.

Q. Okay. So the protocol of the office is not to bother to get affidavits from the complainants, who presumably have firsthand knowledge of the consumer transaction? That's the protocol of the office?
Oliver then proceeded to question Ahlquist on the matter of fraudulent transfers. The allegation of a fraudulent transfer is the linchpin of Blumenthal’s action against NEP – the sole charge, as Oliver put it in his questioning, "upon which the State of Connecticut was allowed to seize the property of Mr. Zaczynski without a hearing."

The admissions made by Ahlquist in the following colloquy demonstrate that the linchpin does not hold.

Q. Okay. Do you have any formal training concerning the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know what the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act is?

A. No, sir.

Q. Have you ever read the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act?

A. No, sir.

Q. Let's jump for a second to paragraphs -- well, before we jump there, let me ask you this: And if I asked you this before, I apologize. Do you know what a fraudulent transfer is?

A. A fraudulent transfer?

Q. Yes, sir. Are you familiar with that term of art?...

A. Fraudulent transfer would be taking an asset and moving it to someone else's ownership to avoid a legal responsibility, I would think. That would be -- that would be the best answer I could give you, sir.

Q. Okay. I'd like to direct your attention to paragraph 22 of the complaint -- I'm sorry – the affidavit.

A. Yes, sir.

Q. It reads as follows: "Based upon the circumstances of this case, including inter alia, the actions as set forth in this affidavit, there is reasonable likelihood that the defendant Zaczynski is about to fraudulently dispose, hide, or withhold, or has fraudulently disposed, hidden, or withheld property, money, or effects, which should be liable to the satisfaction of defendant’s debts. Did I read that correctly?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Okay. Based upon the investigation that you conducted prior to your leaving -- strike that. Prior to your signing this affidavit, what property did you identify that Mr. Zaczynski had fraudulently disposed of, hidden, or withheld?

A. In the past tense, none.

Q. You didn't find any? You weren't aware of any at the time you signed this affidavit, that Mr. Zaczynski had fraudulently disposed of, hidden, or withheld property; correct?

A. (Examining document.) The only area I would point out is, in regards to hidden, would be the – I don’t know where the funds were to satisfy the consumers.

Q. Did you have access to the bank records of Mr. Zaczynski or NEP at the time you signed this affidavit, to know how much funds they had in the account?

A. No, sir.

Q. So you didn't know whether they did or didn't have the funds to satisfy the consumers?

A. I didn't know what their account balances were.

Q. Okay. So as of the date you signed this affidavit, you had no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Zaczynski had fraudulently disposed of, hidden, or withheld property to the satisfaction of the defendants' debts; correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. So that portion of paragraph 22 was simply inaccurate.

A. (Examining document.) I believe it's an "or" or one or the other. That's the way I interpret it, but --

Q. We're going to break it down. I'm breaking it down for you.

A. I understand, sir.

Q. Right now we're focusing on whether as of the date of this affidavit, which is December 30, 2008, whether as of that date you had any evidence that Mr. Zaczynski had fraudulently disposed of, hidden, or withheld property, money, or effects to the satisfaction of the defendants' debts. And I think you answered you didn't have any evidence to that effect; is that correct?

A. I believe you're correct.

Q. Okay. Let's move on to the other part of the "or" phrase. "Is about to fraudulently dispose, hide, or withhold property, money, or effects which should be liable to the satisfaction of debtors' [sic] debts." What property had you identified that Mr. Zaczynski was about to fraudulently dispose, hide, or withhold, to the satisfaction of debtors -- of defendants' debts?

A. I believe that at the time that this was prepared, that there were large-ticket purchases or improvements to his property that could be easily transferred and that there was a reasonable likelihood that they could be disposed of, hidden, or withheld.

Q. What evidence did you have that Mr. Zaczynski was about to transfer large assets? Not that he could, but was about to.

A. The information that I had at the time was that product was being diverted, possibly sold for cash. That consumers were not -- with auditors, were not being delivered. They were defaulting on deliveries. That the --

Q. How does that relate to --

A. -- business had closed and was not -- no -- posted "until further notice." That all led to the likelihood that a principal in the company was about to...

Q. About to what?

A. About to have the ability to move or lose assets or...

Q. Did you get a witness statement from even one witness that said Mr. Zaczynski was about to sell any of his assets?

A. I think we were operating on the reasonable likelihood that he was about to.

Q. I'm not asking about guesses or speculation. I'm asking about evidence. You're a former police officer. You know the difference between evidence and guesses and speculation. What evidence did you have in the form of a witness statement that Mr. Zaczynski was about to fraudulently dispose, hide, or withhold property, money, or effects to the satisfaction of defendants' debts? What evidence did you have for that?

A. I don't have a witness statement, sir.

Q. Okay. Do you have any written documentation?

A. No, sir.

Q. So you had no witnesses' statements and you had no witness documentation that would have supported your claim that you make in this affidavit, under oath, that Mr. Zaczynski was about to fraudulently dispose of, hide, or withhold property, money, or effects to the satisfaction of defendants' debts; correct?

A. I still believe that there was -- at the time I signed this, there was a reasonable likelihood that that --

Q. Based on what?

A. Based on the total circumstances at the time.

Q. What total -- what circumstances? What total circumstances? The fact that people didn't get pellets would cause you to believe that he's going to fraudulently transfer something? What's that based on?

A. The overall picture was that the party was aware of supply problems, continuing to take orders, was taking people's money, and they were not satisfied.

Q. At the time you signed this affidavit, you didn't even know what the causes were of the failure to supply pellets? You didn't know if that was caused by NEP or its supplier NEWP; correct?

A. Correct.

Q. And as you sit here today, you still don’t know whether the supply problem was a product of NEP or, rather, its supplier NEWP; correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Are you aware that paragraph 22 of this affidavit is the sole allegation upon which the State of Connecticut was allowed to seize the property of Mr. Zaczynski without a hearing?

A. I guess my problem with responding to that is the term "seize," you know, to me is take something away.

Q. Okay. Attach. I'll switch it. Attach.

A. In that case I would more than likely agree with you, sir.

Q. When you were asked to sign this affidavit, did you object to signing this affidavit with paragraph 22 in it?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know what happened to Mr. Zaczynski after he was served with the attachment papers in this case?...

A. That's a broad question, sir.

Q. Do you know what happened to him physically?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know what happened to him mentally?
A. No, sir.

Q. Are you aware that -- I think it's the day or the day after he was served with these papers, he wound up in the hospital?

A. There was rumors. I didn't investigate his personal life.

Q. Are you aware that he almost died?

A. No, sir, I am not.

It is to the credit of the deponents that when Oliver mentioned Mr. Zaczynski’s attempted suicide, a respectful silence permeated the room.

Ahlquist left Blumenthal’s service for health reasons and his responsibilities in the case fell to Stephen Hennessey, also deposed by Oliver.

Having determined that Hennessey was unfamiliar with contract formation under the Uniform Commercial Code and did not know that contracts could be established by e-mail, Oliver pointed to a paragraph in an e-mail sent to NEP by its supplier, NEWP: “Added up, this represents a maximum of 18,000 to 20,500 tons that we can realistically make available to you."

Q: Did I read that correctly?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Do you know if NEWP made available to NEP between 18,000 and 20,500 tons of pellets?

A. No.

Q. Do you know, if it had made those pellets available, whether NEP would have been able to meet its presale commitments to its customers for Connecticut and Massachusetts?

A. No.

Q. Do you know how many tons of pellets NEP presold to its customers in Connecticut and Massachusetts prior to June 6, 2008?

A. No.

Q. Do you know whether NEWP refused to ship pellets to NEP in order to force NEP to give up its contract rights to distribute product in New York and New Jersey?

A. No.

Q. Have you ever investigated that?

A. No.
The Devil In The Details

The devil is in the details, as everyone knows. What people do not know is that there are increasingly fewer journalists to find the devil, hidden in plain sight in the details.

The NEP depositions taken by Oliver destroy the root assertions made by the so called “investigators” in their affidavit. The affidavit used by Blumenthal to seize NEP’s business machinery at a time when the company was struggling to satisfy its customers was itself defective because the affiant had no personal knowledge of the events cited in the affidavit.

All these details were hidden in plain site – even in Blumenthal’s press release. He noted in the press release that “a wholesaler, New England Wood Pellet of New Hampshire, informed New England Pellet as of May 2008 that it may only be able to supply one half that amount (i.e. half the amount of the pellets it was contractually obliged to fulfill), and by June 2008 the amount the wholesaler could supply dropped to one quarter of the defendants' outstanding delivery obligations.”

E-mails, available to any investigator who wanted seriously to probe the suspected illegalities in the case he was investigating, showed that the supplier, NEWP, had shorted NEP with a view to forcing the company to surrender to it valuable business that NEP had developed.

Blumenthal prosecuted the wrong people.

There was no investigation.


The affiants in both the Hoffman case and the NEP case were not primary witnesses to the events they attested to in their affidavits.

The affidavit in the NEP case included an undocumented and spurious uninvestigated claim that the co-owners of the business were engaging in or about to engage in fraudulent transfers – the sole claim in the affidavit that triggered an ex parte seizure of NEP’s assets.

Suffering from premature press release ejaculation, Blumenthal’s press release in the NEP case was bunk.

This week, following an announcement by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd that he would not he running for re-election, Blumenthal decided to enter the race, and polls showed him a favored candidate in the race. His poll numbers may be high because, rather than pursue and expose the devil in the details, Connecticut’s media has too often been willing to take Blumenthal’s press releases at face value.

A little digging can be a dangerous thing.

Perhaps Blumenthal will be more sensitive in his new position to the Constitutional rights that, in the 14th amendment, secure the citizens of the United States in their property. Once in the senate, he will not be able to hide so successfully in the underbrush of his office.




Featured Post

Rebranding Progressive Democrats In Connecticut

There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet… In a minute there is time For decisions an...