Friday, October 13, 2006

The Connecticut Governor's Race

Is the current Governor of Connecticut M. Jodi Rell as corrupt as the corrupt predessor she got the job from, John G. Rowland? Should anyone doubt her words of knowing and seeing nothing. Sgt. Schultz of Stallag 13 was more believable.
-Steven G. Erickson a.k.a. blogger Vikingas


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POLITICS

Rell's Lead Down 6 Points


Gov. M. Jodi Rell's lead over challenger John DeStefano fell by 6 percentage points after their first debate Monday night, according to a Hartford Courant/University of Connecticut poll.

But the points Rell lost went not to DeStefano but into the "no choice" column. The results indicate the governor's performance in the televised debate caused some of her previous supporters to take pause.

Even after the decline, however, Rell holds a 22-point lead over DeStefano with less than a month to Election Day.

A poll of likely voters by UConn's Center for Survey Research and Analysis in the days immediately before the debate put Rell ahead of DeStefano 56 percent to 28 percent. A survey in days after the debate had Rell leading 50 percent to 28 percent.



While preference for DeStefano was unchanged, voters who had "no choice" rose from 15 percent to 21 percent - a 6-point rise that matched Rell's decline, the poll showed.

Monika McDermott, the poll's director, said DeStefano clearly developed momentum from a strong performance in the debate.

"He didn't seal the deal, but he did give some people pause," McDermott said Thursday.

"What he did in Monday's debate is what he needs to do - give pause to Rell's voters," McDermott said. "With three weeks left, it's no small feat."

McDermott said the race had been static, and the poll shows more exposure might make DeStefano more viable. "More debates would definitely help him," she said. "At this point, it's Rell's race to lose."

The two candidates have one more televised debate, Wednesday at 7 p.m. on WVIT-TV, Channel 30.




DeStefano's campaign cheered the poll results, comparing them with a Quinnipiac poll two weeks ago that had Rell leading 63 percent to 30 percent - a 33-point bulge.

His supporters say a key factor in the governor's 6-point, post-debate decline was Rell's response to two questions: that she did not endorse anyone in the U.S. Senate race and she did not acknowledge any mistakes that she had made.

"Six points is significant," said Derek Slap, DeStefano's spokesman. "This is an 11-point pickup for us. The Quinnipiac poll had [her lead] at 33, and this is at 22."

DeStefano's internal campaign strategy, not previously revealed, is marked by a combination of realism and optimism.

"We wanted to be 20 points out [from Rell] with four weeks to go and 10 points out with two weeks to go," Slap said Thursday. "If we go into Election Day 5 points out, we win because of our field organization."

Rell's campaign spokesman, Rich Harris, said that each side's supporters will argue that their candidate "won" the debate. The poll showed that 32 percent said DeStefano won, 30 percent said Rell won, and 20 percent called it a draw.

"The most accurate assessment is that both candidates had their moments, but neither candidate scored a decisive victory," Harris said.

Poll director McDermott sees a steep uphill climb for DeStefano. "Currently, even if he won every undecided voter in the state, he still wouldn't overtake Rell," McDermott said.

UConn surveyed 569 registered voters before the debate and 511 registered voters after the debate. The margin of error for the pre-debate survey is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points; post-debate is 4.3 percentage points.

Meanwhile, both camps cried foul Thursday on campaign finance reports released this week.

A DeStefano supporter filed a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission alleging that the Rell campaign violated elections law by failing to identify contributors who work as employees of companies that hold state contracts. One contributor, the managing partner of the Halloran & Sage law firm who gave the maximum of $2,500, was not identified as working for a company that holds a $50,000 state contract, according to the complaint.

Two other $2,500 contributors were not marked as working for state contractors. One was a nurse practitioner for Manchester Memorial Hospital, and the other a doctor for the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, Harris said. Their hospitals conduct physical examinations for the state, officials said.

Harris acknowledged that mistakes were made, but he said Rell was not returning any of the money. "It appears we had a clerical error," Harris said. "It appears in doing some of the data entry, there was a misunderstanding. ... The governor wants an amended and corrected filing made as soon as humanly possible."

That filing is expected today.

Joan Andrews, an attorney with the Elections Enforcement Commission, said an investigation will be conducted, and it was too early to make any conclusions.

Within hours of the first filing, state Republican Party Chairman George Gallo announced he would file a complaint against DeStefano's campaign for failing to properly disclose the names of the treasurers of four political action committees that contributed to DeStefano.

Gallo also said a Cheshire donor had contributed more than the $2,500 maximum. Slap said the $95.62 overage was legal because it concerned expenses at an at-home party that are permitted under the regulations. Slap released e-mails and spread sheets to show that the names of the treasurers had been filed electronically with the secretary of the state's office in the proper fashion.

"None of it is valid," Slap said. "It is rubbish."

Gallo said the issue is important because the DeStefano campaign was already fined $4,000 by the State Elections Enforcement Commission in December 2005 for accepting $65,000 from 32 donors last fall without disclosing their occupations. State law prohibits any gubernatorial campaign from collecting donations over $1,000 without publicly disclosing the donors' employers and occupations.

Contact Christopher Keating at ckeating@courant.com.

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EDITORIALS

Reckless Campaign Talk

October 13, 2006, The Hartford Courant
Oh, Mr. Parker, why didn't you do your homework first?

There is enough in any politician's record to argue about that an opponent doesn't need to resort to delusions.

But on Wednesday, former state Treasurer Henry E. Parker abandoned truth and civic discourse when he charged that Sen. Joe Lieberman had lied about his civil rights work in the 1960s.

"I suspect he was not there," Mr. Parker said at a press conference at which he and other members of the Connecticut Federation of Black Democratic Clubs endorsed Democratic candidate Ned Lamont.

The Lieberman camp responded with the evidence that, in 1963, he reported on the arrests of civil rights workers from Jackson, Miss., and attended the legendary march in Washington organized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, the understandably embarrassed Lamont campaign issued Mr. Parker's grudging retraction: "I accept the fact that Sen. Lieberman provided documentation that he participated in the civil rights movement in the '60s."

Unusually acrimonious races are causing many regrettable outbursts this year. A Lieberman supporter labeled Mr. Lamont's campaign as made up of "every single weirdo in the left wing." Republican Rep. Chris Shays spluttered in defense of the House speaker, "Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody." The reference was to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was in town campaigning for Mr. Shays' rival, Democrat Diane Farrell.

The Lamont campaign had paid for a flier from Mr. Parker's group that said "there is no evidence of you [Mr. Lieberman] taking any action that could be described as initiative to remove the shackles of second class citizenship from African Americans."

The flier's authors may not like Mr. Lieberman's doubts about affirmative action or his openness to trying school vouchers. His record on those is fair game for criticism. And those battles are continuing.

But there is no denying the plain evidence that, four decades ago, Mr. Lieberman worked for the right of black people to vote at a time when and in a place where that took courage. Next time, think before you speak, Mr. Parker.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, The Hartford Courant

Unhappy With

October 13, 2006
Unhappy With

Bush Leagues




My early retirement years aren't as much fun as I was expecting. Since 2001, my health insurance premiums are up 200 percent, home energy costs have risen more than 75 percent, gasoline is up 50 percent and my property and real estate taxes have increased by 33 percent, while my income has risen 7 percent.

The war in Iraq (and on terror) has been mismanaged. You hope the Department of Homeland Security isn't needed in your town, and you certainly don't want your children or grandchildren serving as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But if George Bush hasn't done enough to ruin my day, now the Yankees are "outta here" for the sixth year in a row without a World Series championship.

George Steinbrenner is having the same bad run as George W. and I think I know why. If you look closely you'll see some striking similarities between Dick Cheney and Gary Sheffield, Donald Rumsfeld and Randy Johnson, Karl Rove and Mike Mussina, Dennis Hastert and Jason Giambi and, of course, Condi Rice and A-Rod.

I can't wait until the Georges and their current band of merry souls are outta here, so I can really start enjoying retirement.

Robert J. Cassarino

Wethersfield



Digging In

On Iraq

Almost everyone is looking for a different course in Iraq. James Baker, an old Bush family friend, is leading a study providing cover for the White House while changing its strategy.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice states the government of Iraq must prove it can handle security in the next few months, or the United States will change its course.

Now the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner, has said it is time for a change in strategy.

It appears that after the election, only Henry Kissinger and Joe Lieberman will be saying, "Stay the course."

Thomas Daly

Glastonbury



Lamont Consultant

Dodged Questions

I'm thankful that in his Other Opinion article that attacked Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont's media consultant, Bill Hillsman, clarified that he is not an astronaut [Oct. 8, "What Is Joe, Really?"]. Otherwise, he dodged the questions we have raised about his work for the Lamont campaign and essentially proved our fundamental point about Ned's serial hypocrisy.

For the record, the Lieberman campaign did not criticize Hillsman for being an independent, for consistently working for independents or for consistently fighting to defeat Democrats like Bill Clinton and Al Gore and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. All we did was note the clear contradiction between what Ned Lamont says (relentlessly attacking Joe Lieberman for supposedly not being a good Democrat and for running as an independent petitioning candidate in the general election) on the one hand, and what Ned does (hiring a high-profile independent who primarily works to defeat Democrats to make his ads and help run his campaign) on the other.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that for what is - just another example of the negative and hypocritical campaign Ned Lamont has been running for the past several months.

It's little wonder Ned has not be able to expand his support beyond his anti-war base. He has no experience or no new ideas to offer the people of Connecticut. Instead, he constantly talks out of both sides of his mouth to attack Joe Lieberman, and most independent-minded Connecticut voters just don't believe what he says.

Tammy Sun

Press Secretary

Lieberman for Senate Campaign

Hartford



Minor Party Voters

Not Polled

The Oct. 4-9 Courant/University of Connecticut political poll cited in the Oct. 11 article "Ned's Ideas, Joe's Votes" [Page 1] was grossly unrepresentative of minor party candidates. The poll broadly grouped voters' preferences into the categories: Lamont, Lieberman, Schlesinger and undecided, as if those were the only options available for U.S. senator.

I'm voting for Green Party candidate Ralph Ferrucci. I'm not "undecided." I've already made up my mind. I'm voting for a candidate who can give a senatorial voice to the politically voiceless.

Chris Dubey

Middletown



Simmons' Record

Shows Success

The voters in Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District can breathe a sigh of relief now that Bill Curry, the Harold Stassen of Connecticut politics, has weighed in on Rob Simmons' quest for a historic fourth term [Other Opinion, Oct. 8, "Simmons Should Lose In A Rout"].

Instead of parroting the TV ads of Rob Simmons' opponent, Mr. Curry should have done a little research and discovered that Mr. Simmons is ranked as one of the most independent members of Congress, particularly when you examine his record over his entire six-year term.

Likewise, Mr. Curry should have examined Rep. Simmons' record of advocating for defense jobs and perhaps analyzed the impact that saving the sub base will have on the 700 Connecticut businesses that support the submarine industry.

Readers might also have benefited if Mr. Curry had analyzed and explained the source of Mr. Simmons' extensive support from organized labor. Instead, Mr. Curry took the easy way out and - without any specifics - attacked an energy bill that provided billions of dollars for the development of alternative energy sources and tens of millions of dollars for home heating assistance for people with moderate incomes.

Gen. Charles De Gaulle once said that "politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." After reading Bill Curry's column, I must agree and would add that political commentary is too serious a matter to be left to failed politicians.

Dennis Kerrigan

Glastonbury



The writer is the Glastonbury town campaign coordinator for Rob Simmons.



Performance

Easily Attacked

In the article "Will Nancy Johnson's `41 Children Rebel?" [Page 1, Oct. 8], The Courant states that Nancy Johnson is "affectionate and personal, a matronly Republican icon as difficult to attack as Barbara Bush."

I have no difficulty in attacking a member of Congress who has supported the Bush, stay-the-course Iraq fiasco. Likeability has nothing to do with competence.

Jeff Blanchette

Plainville



Part D Is Good

For Seniors

Bob Englehart has it all wrong on the Medicare Part D program [Englehart's View, Oct. 1]. Despite overwhelming enrollment and high satisfaction rates, some continue to argue that Congress should have passed a government-dictated, one-size-fits-all prescription drug benefit. I do not believe such a program would have been good for seniors or future generations, and I thank Rep. Nancy Johnson for passing this legislation.

What Englehart fails to realize, or chooses to ignore, is that for the first time since Medicare was founded, seniors now have affordable prescription drug coverage. Also, each state has plans that cover seniors throughout any gap in coverage.

The Medicare Part D program that some wanted would have cost another trillion dollars. It isn't fair to saddle our children with that type of debt, especially when free-market competition keeps prices lower compared with the inefficiency of a government-run system.

Claire Palmer

East Granby

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The Steven G. Erickson mugshot

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Added Oct. 14, 2006, at 10 AM EST:

The 2nd Circuit Sentencing Blog, click here

The below found here on the web

United States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
Press Release



October 3, 2006

EMPLOYEE OF FEDERAL COURT CLERK’S OFFICE WHO DISCLOSED SEALED INFORMATION IS SENTENCED

Kevin J. O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that CASSANDRA D. WARREN, age 46, a former resident of Bridgeport currently residing in Baltimore, Maryland, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to three years of probation for disobeying a court order while employed in the Clerk’s Office for the United States District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Judge Covello also ordered WARREN to pay a fine in the amount of $1000. On May 2, 2006, WARREN waived indictment and pleaded guilty to the offense.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, from 1979 to 2005, WARREN was employed as deputy clerk for U.S. District Court’s Clerk’s Office in Bridgeport. In the course of her employment, she handled motions, pleadings, electronic filings, and other documents litigants filed with the Clerk’s Office. Some of those filings had been ordered sealed by U.S. Magistrate Judges and U.S. District Judges. WARREN knew that the Court’s sealing orders meant that the contents of the sealed documents could not be disclosed to anyone outside the Clerk’s Office.

On September 16, 2004, a U.S. District Court Judge sitting in the Bridgeport courthouse ordered sealed a Government document that the judge had reviewed and that contained non-public information about an ongoing federal criminal investigation of political corruption concerning then Connecticut State Senator Ernest Newton.

On September 17, 2004, WARREN, within the scope of her job as a deputy clerk, processed the sealed document for filing. She read portions of the sealed document and learned information about the ongoing federal public corruption investigation. On the same day WARREN certified a copy of the sealed document. She also handled other documents, related to the same public corruption investigation, that the Court had ordered sealed.

WARREN admitted that, in late 2004 or early 2005, she knowingly and willfully disclosed to a relative, who was not employed by the Clerk’s Office, the existence of the federal criminal investigation of Senator Newton that she had learned from the sealed Government document.

WARREN resigned from the Clerk’s Office.

“Disclosure of sealed information rips the fabric and threatens the integrity of our judicial system,” U.S. Attorney O’Connor stated. “This prosecution shows that those who violate court orders will be prosecuted.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter S. Jongbloed.

CONTACT:

U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Tom Carson
(203) 821-3722
thomas.carson@usdoj.gov

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