Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wall Street Journal: Richard Blumenthal a liar and a bully

The Wall Street Journal delivered another substantive blow to embattled Connecticut Senate candidate and State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Saturday:
The attorney general has also used the power of the state to bully small businesses. In 2003, he sued Computers Plus Center for $1.75 million in damages for allegedly selling state government machines without specified parts. Mr. Blumenthal issued a press release accusing the business owner, Gina Malapanis, of fraud: "No supplier should be permitted to shortchange or overcharge the State without severe consequences," he said. "We will vigorously pursue this case to recover taxpayer money and send a strong message about zero tolerance for contractor misconduct." Ms. Malapanis was even arrested in her home on seven first-degree larceny charges.

In 2008 the charges against Ms. Malapanis were dismissed. As for the civil case, she refused to plead guilty and countersued the state for abusing its power and violating her constitutional rights. The jury, recoiling at the overly aggressive action that ruined her business, awarded her a whopping $18 million in January. In a handwritten note on court documents, the jury foreman said the state had engaged in a "pattern of conduct" that harmed Ms. Malapanis's reputation, and cited the state's press releases impugning her integrity, some of which came from Mr. Blumenthal. Mr. Blumenthal is appealing the decision.

An eminent domain case involving a working quarry taken in 2004 to expand a highway in the town of Brookfield ended up in court. The quarry owners, who were originally paid about $4 million for the property, felt cheated by the state. They sued, and Mr. Blumenthal defended the state's action, bringing in new appraisers who also low-balled the property's value. Judge Barbara Sheedy concluded the state had been "unprofessional" and "less than scrupulous" in its handling of the case, having hand-picked unqualified appraisers for the purpose of deliberately underestimating the quarry's value. The owners were awarded another $28 million, including interest payments.

This spring, the exasperated CFO of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. blurted out that doing business "anyplace outside of Connecticut is low-cost." The company was frustrated in part by a union lawsuit—supported by Mr. Blumenthal—challenging the company's plan to close a local factory as part of the firm's response to the recession. UTC—with $53 billion in revenue last year and 26,000 employees in Connecticut—is the state's largest private employer. It's exactly the sort of company other states would love to host.

So it's no wonder Connecticut's business community quietly greeted Mr. Blumenthal's candidacy for federal office with relief: Anything to get him out of state.
It would appear that Blumenthal's false accounts of serving in Vietnam are just the tip of the rancid iceberg.

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