Thursday, April 05, 2018

Red Notes From a Blue State - A Friendless Esty Calls It Quits

Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes from a Blue State

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” The saying was attributed to President Harry Truman by a playwright, but just because Truman may not have coined the phrase does not make it any the less true. Washington DC can be a cutthroat corner of the world. This is not to say that all well-mannered pols have cashed in their chips and left the casino in the hands of brutes. Some U.S. Senators still feel that politics should not be a murderous affair. If you do catch your enemy in a compromising position, it would be prudent to leave open a back door through which he might escape with his honor intact. Your enemy will appreciate the graceful gesture and, perhaps in some future encounter, pause and consider before he draws the knife across your throat” 

Connecticut’s two U.S. Senators were among the last to commend U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty for having “done the right thing” by resigning. Before Esty announced she was leaving Congress, many other Democrats had forcefully urged her to resign. Esty, her critics charged, had failed to discharge her chief of staff, who had abused a woman in her office. The victim had reported instances of abuse to the police and Esty throughout 2014. A threatening e-mail written by the abuser in 2016 -- “You better f-----g reply to me or I will f-----g kill you” – was reason enough for an immediate dismissal, but Esty chose, after consulting her lawyers, to present her former chief of staff, dismissed three months after the threatening e-mail had been received and reported, with a non-disclosure agreement, a payoff of $5,000, and a job recommendation that secured employment for the abuser with Sandy Hook Promise, an organization formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter to encourage legislation regulating the sale of guns.

The list of prominent Democrats demanding Esty’s resignation included Bill Curry, Connecticut’s one-term State Comptroller. Curry ran for Governor in 1994 on the Democratic ticket. The field of candidates at the time included John Rowland, Eunice Groark, Governor Lowell Weicker’s Lieutenant Governor Curry and Tom Scott. Rowland won that one by 3 points. Curry had a second chance in 2002. A prophet unloved in his own state, Curry charged that Rowland had awarded contracts based on rigged bids. Rowland, who won his gubernatorial bid by a 12 point margin, later resigned his office during an active impeachment proceeding. Still wearing the prophet’s mantle, Curry, then a commentator for the left of center Ezine site Salon, tied his kite to Bernie Sanders’ tail and urged publication’s readers to vote against Hillary Clinton as President. One expected Curry to correctly read the writing boldly etched on Esty’s wall.Other prominent Democrats also turned their thumbs down on Esty. 

Even the Hartford Courant -- a paper that had endorsed Esty over her Republican opponent, the more experienced fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republican Andrew Roraback – vigorously called for Esty’s resignation. On April 2, Esty obliged with a brief Facebook statement: “One of the greatest honors of my life is that the people of Connecticut's Fifth District elected me to represent them in Congress. However, I have decided that it is best to not seek re-election.”

Author Don Pesci
Slow out of the gate were U.S. Senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Governor Dannel Malloy. Blumenthal thought Esty’s constituents should decide the issue in the upcoming 2018 campaign but had second thoughts after Esty threw in the towel.

“She made profound mistakes, as she has acknowledged” said Blumenthal shortly after Esty had announced she would retire from the Congress . . . 

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