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    Susan Cogswell, the state's former insurance commissioner, died Tuesday at the age of 57.

    She was well known at the state Capitol among lawmakers on the General Assembly's insurance committee.

    The Hartford Courant's insurance blog has details at

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    In a key endorsement, House Republican leader Larry Cafero threw his support Wednesday to Ross Garber in the race for attorney general.

    "As a Republican leader, it is my obligation to carefully consider the qualifications of the candidates, their ability to do the job and their ability to win the general election against the Democratic nominee,'' Cafero said in a statement. "In each of those three categories, Ross is the superior candidate and I urge my fellow Republicans to support him, work for him and vote for him on August 10th.''

    He added, "Ross has a demonstrated ability to lead in difficult situations. He is an accomplished lawyer with unique experience in the public and private sector. He understands the proper role of the Attorney General in Connecticut government, and I believe he is not only the best candidate in the race - he is the best lawyer. And when we choose an Attorney General, we want the best."

    Garber is facing Avon attorney Martha Dean in the August 10 Republican primary. The race has been overshadowed by the Republican and Democratic primaries for governor, as well as the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate between Linda McMahon of Greenwich and Peter Schiff of Weston.

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    In a surprise move, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons is running a television commercial to remind voters that he is still on the ballot in the August 10 Republican primary.

    Simmons has suspended active campaigning, and many of his former staff members are now working for other campaigns.

    But he will still appear on the ballot, along with front runner Linda McMahon of Greenwich and Weston author and investor Peter Schiff.

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    After winning four consecutive court decisions at the state and federal level, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele was awarded the final allotment of public money Wednesday for his political campaign.

    The State Election Enforcement Commission in Hartford voted unanimously to award the final portion of the money to Fedele, which was $312,500. His overall total is $2.5 million, and he has been spending the money quickly with television commercials that are filling the airwaves on Connecticut stations.

    Despite losing four court appeals in rapid succession, Republican front runner Tom Foley is still asking Fedele to return the money.

    "It is unbelievable that the SEEC would continue to award a supplemental grant to Mike Fedele's campaign after those grants have been found unconstitutional," said Foley campaign manager Justin Clark said in a statement. "The Lieutenant Governor is a wealthy man who has the money to fund his own campaign. Yet he continues to ask his friends at the SEEC for more money from hard working taxpayers to pay for bumper stickers and TV ads. We ask Mike Fedele to do the right thing and not accept these funds. And we ask one more time - Mike, have you returned the unconstitutional money, yet?"

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    The long-running inquiry into the firing of multiple U.S. Attorneys during the Bush administration has ended with no criminal charges being filed.

    Nora Dannehy, a well-known federal prosecutor in Connecticut, handled the inquiry on a high-profile issue that generated national headlines at the time. The decision became public through a letter that was sent to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

    The Los Angeles Times said the episode became "one of the most searing political controversies in the Bush administration.'',0,1289029.story

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    Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green weighs in on the latest television commercial by Republican Linda McMahon.

    McMahon is facing U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and Weston author Peter Schiff in the August 10 Republican primary.

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  • 07/22/10--13:27: Tea and wrestling: Oh yeah!
  • Remember the beautifully shot ads that the McMahon campaign used to churn out -- especially the cinema verite spot featuring her daughter Stephanie? Well, they've given way to this:

    In this latest spot, which began running today, two woman launch into an impromptu conversation after hearing one of McMahon's ads on the radio. The blonde one wearing the ascot broaches the subject of the "wrestling stuff," which the dark-haired one driving the SUV says is "no exactly my cup of tea.''

    The blogosphere has not been kind to Team McMahon's latest effort. "[Y]ou will probably wonder, 'Is this ad intended ironically?''' asks Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post. "But remember, we are talking about the GOP primary in Connecticut. This ad is inclusive of every single voter demographic relevant to that occasion."

    To be sure, suburban women have long been a target demographic for McMahon -- a quick scan of any of her glossy flyers confirms that.

    But Rick Green suggests the highly scripted chatter between these two "Stepford Wives" might not be enough to soothe voters nervous about McMahon's WWE baggage.

    Jim Geraghty at National Review Online pokes fun at the implausible nature of the conversation. "If you survey suburban women voters in Connecticut about their views on professional wrestling, I can't help but suspect that 'not my cup of tea' will rank among the more mild responses,'' Geraghty writes. "In fact, if any of my friends, unprompted, began a soliloquy about the evolution of professional wrestling as a form of enter complete with statewide job-creation numbers, I think I would ask if they were feeling all right."

    It is uncanny that one of the women in the ad describes the WWE as a "soap opera," which is precisely the term McMahon has used to describe the company's programming.


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    Check out the weird halo around Linda's head in this web ad.

    LindaMcMahon (2).jpg

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    The curtailed campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Simmons unveiled its new ad today. 


    Simmons has called the 30-second spot a public service announcement, but make no mistake: this is a paid political ad. Wearing a grayish cotton shirt and gesticulating with his hands, Simmons speaks directly to the camera. A series of images drift by in the background and a guitar strums softly beneath his words.  

    "Today it's important to vote with your heart and your head,'' Simmons said before criticizing government bailouts and paying homage to the traditional GOP touchstones -- small business and national security.

    "In the Republican primary on Aug. 10, you do have a choice,'' he says. "I'm Rob Simmons, I;m still on the ballot and I approve this message.''






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    Democratic gubernatorial front runner Ned Lamont has released new television and radio commercials with a high-profile endorsement from Ted Kennedy, Jr.

    The 60-second ad shows Kennedy looking into the camera and taking about his friendship with Lamont and his wife, Annie.

    "What makes Connecticut so special to me are the people that I've met here, people like Ned and Annie," said Kennedy, a longtime resident of Branford.  "Over the years, I've been lucky enough to become good friends with them, and I know they share the same values I believe in - the values of hard work and giving back.  I've seen Ned in action.  I know he has what it takes to bring people together and move Connecticut forward, and that's why I'll be voting for him on August 10."

    The ad is at

    The 60-second ad will be broadcast starting at 6 a.m. Friday on the four major network television stations on the morning news, as well as on the radio.

    Lamont is running in the primary for governor against former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, who was endorsed recently by all six units of SEIU.

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    Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley said Thursday that he'd answered "no" on federal background-check forms when asked if he'd ever been charged with anything more than a "minor traffic offense" -- even though he'd been arrested, but not convicted, on charges of first-degree attempted assault and breach of peace.

    Foley said in a telephone interview that he stood by those answers -- which he gave on questionnaire forms for service in the administration of President George W. Bush -- because the arrests in 1981 and 1993 related to what he considered minor traffic incidents and the charges were dropped.

    The one question that that Foley said he might possibly answer differently, in retrospect, was on a national-security clearance form: "Have you ever been charged with or convicted of any felony offense?"

    Foley was charged in 1981, at age 29, with attempted first-degree assault, and kept in a cell overnight, after occupants of a vehicle complained that he had rammed their car with his in Southampton, N.Y., on Long Island. But he said it was really only a minor, low-speed traffic incident and the charge was later dropped -- and he said "nobody ever told me it was a felony offense." Under current New York penal laws, attempted first-degree assault is a felony, and New York officials were doing research Thursday to verify if it also was in 1981. 

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  • 07/22/10--21:49: The friends of Rob Simmons
  • Republican Rob Simmons, the on-again, off-again candidate for U.S. Senate, tells Dennis House that he was encourage to restart his stalled campaign by the likes of Lowell Weicker and Ann Coulter.

    It's curious that Simmons would listen to Weicker. After all, the former governor was an outspoken advocate for the health care bill and unabashed supporter of Chris Dodd.

    But more interesting that the question of who's whispering in Simmons ear is the matter of who isn't. None of his former staff appear to have had a hand in his new TV commercial public service announcement. Not former campaign manager Jim Barnett, who's now consulting for gubernatorial candidate Michael Fedele as well as Republican candidates in Delaware. Not Jim Conroy, Barnett's one-time assistant, who's running the Fedele campaign. 

    Also opting out of Simmons the Sequel is his former pollster Neil Newhouse.

    Perhaps, unlike Weicker and Ann Coulter, they don't agree with the former congressman's decision. 


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    A new TV ad by Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele heats up the campaign for the Aug. 10 Republican gubernatorial primary by blasting GOP front-runner Tom Foley's 1985 purchase and subsequent management of The Bibb Co., a Georgia textile manufacturing company that went into bankruptcy a decade later and finally closed.

    The 30-second ad, which began running Friday, picks up on the subject of a May 21 Courant story about Foley's Bibb venture. Foley, a Greenwich multimillionaire businessman, had touted that venture as a success story, but his junk-bond-financed leveraged buyout of Bibb ended with him relinquishing executive control and most of his 95 percent stake in the company in 1996. New management sold the company and 1998 brought the closing of its huge and renowned plant, in the "company town" of Bibb City on the outskirts of Columbus, Georgia.

    The new Fedele ad shows desolate scenes of a town that once centered around a now-closed plant, and it carries criticism of Foley by elderly people identified as former Bibb workers in Georgia who were interviewed by the campaign's production crew. "Tom Foley bankrupted The Bibb. We did not just lose our jobs. We lost our town," one of them says in the video.  Says another: "I don't think Tom Foley should make $20 million at the demise of somebody else losing their job." And another says: "I would not want him as governor."

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    Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele Friday assailed Republican gubernatorial rival Tom Foley's assertion on federal background-check forms that he'd never been charged with anything more than a "minor traffic offense" -- even though Foley had been arrested, but not convicted, on charges of first-degree attempted assault in 1981 and breach of peace in 1993.

    "You have to question the judgment of someone who falsified his national security clearance documents," said Fedele, one of Foley's two opponents for the governor's nomination in the Aug. 10 GOP primary. "It's a pattern of distorting the truth, not disclosing details, shading the truth about his bankruptcy and layoffs, refusing to open sealed documents relating to past arrests and dodging questions about whether he paid his taxes or lied on the background check for his national security clearance."

    Fedele made his comments in a statement issued Friday morning -- after The Courant published a story in which Foley said he'd answered "no" on federal background-check forms when asked if he'd ever been arrested on more than a minor traffic charge. The questionnaire forms were for posts in the administration of President George W. Bush; Foley served as as ambassador to Ireland, from October 2006 to January 2009, after serving in Iraq from August 2003 through March 2004 as director of private sector development for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

    One of the forms asked the question: "Have you ever been charged with or convicted of any felony offense?"

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    Another state primary candidate, would-be Comptroller Michael Jarjura this time, is suing the state over the way it is distributing public campaign money under Connecticut's new and sweeping campaign finance laws.

    DOCUMENT: Jarjura Lawsuit [PDF]

    Jarjura, a Democrat and Waterbury's Mayor, is involved in a bruising primary challenge of Kevin Lembo, the state Healthcare Advocate and the party's endorsed candidate for Comptroller. The primary is Aug. 10.

    In suit filed in Superior Court in Hartford Friday afternoon, Jarjura contends that the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which administers the public financing of campaigns for state offices, improperly awarded Lembo a $375,000 campaign grant this week. Jarjura said Lembo failed to raise the $75,000 needed to qualify for the grant by the July 16 deadline.

    The Jarjura suit is the latest of several legal developments as primary campaigns heat up in the first year that public financing has been available to candidates for state-wide office. More than 160 candidates are seeking public campaign money.

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    Longtime business executive Oz Griebel of Simsbury has released a new web ad in the Republican primary for governor.

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    Longtime business executive Oz Griebel of Simsbury has released a new web ad in the Republican primary for governor.

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    Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele is criticizing former Mayor Dannel Malloy for a lack of management control after three city employees were charged with stealing more than $400,000 from the city of Stamford.

    Employees in three different departments have been arrested this year in alleged embezzlement cases that were uncovered by the new mayor who took office in December. Two of the three workers had been named "employee of the month'' during the Malloy years, and one of them was photographed with Malloy as they smiled during the employee of the month ceremony in June 2005. The employee, Fred Manfredonia, was fired this year amid the controversy.

    "The question is: who was watching the store when all of this was going on?'' asked Fedele, a Stamford resident for the past 50 years and a Republican candidate for governor. "What management controls were in place and who was watching when all this took place?''

    Fedele is running in the Republican primary on August 10, while Malloy is running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary on the same day against Greenwich cable TV entrepreneur Ned Lamont. Lamont declined to comment on the controversy.

    Fedele said that Malloy, as mayor for 14 years, needed to hire the best supervisors for important financial positions in order to avoid the misuse of taxpayers' money. 

    "When you're running government, you have to have all your controls in place to make sure these things aren't going on,'' Fedele said. "It's part of making sure that you have the right people in place that are overseeing what is going on in government and having the accountability and transparency that folks are looking for.''

    Malloy emphasized that he is no longer the mayor and does not have additional details on the arrests beyond what he reads in the newspaper.

    "Obviously, you do your best to set up systems'' of financial controls, Malloy said Friday. "The city's books are audited on a regular basis. Two of those individuals were caught very quickly, and one was not. It's hard to protect people from dishonesty. ... You have systems. No system is foolproof.''

    "Let's be fair. None of these people were direct reports to me,'' Malloy said. "He's the lieutenant governor of an administration that has had its problems. ... The governor was part of an administration that was hiding money in the backyard.''

    City officials have called for forensic audits of the city's financial controls since the arrests came to light, and they have hired a new auditing firm. In addition, they created a hotline to handle calls about financial irregularities. Stamford's police chief has contacted the FBI, U.S. Attorney, and chief state's attorney to investigate the cases because public money is involved.

    Fedele raised the issue during a broader discussion about the gubernatorial campaign, his business career, and his views of his hometown of Stamford.

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    Tom Foley and Linda McMahon were the big winners at last night's Republican straw poll in Middletown.

    According to Kevin Rennie, gubernatorial candidate Foley picked up 138 votes, compared with 35 for Oz Griebel and 18 for Mike Fedele.

    While some Fedele supporters have suggested on Twitter that Foley bought his win, Foley's campaign manager, Justin Clark, reads it differently. He says the results show that Foley's message is resonating.

    "Voters are tired of the status-quo in our Capitol and are responding well to Tom's unique perspective, business experience and leadership ability,'' Clark said in a statement on the poll results. "As Governor, he will fix the mess in Hartford and get Connecticut working again.''

    In the U.S. Senate race, McMahon received 106 votes, to Peter Schiff's 46. Rob Simmons, the quasi-candidate and former congressman whose district included Middletown for one term before the lines were redrawn due to redistricting, got 34 votes.

    "I certainly hope it's a portent of the upcoming primary, that's what I'm hopeful for,'' McMahon said during a brief phone interview this morning. "I'm not taking the primary for granted, that's for sure.''

    Mayor Seb Giuliano is among McMahon's Middletown backers. Giuliano used to be squarely in Simmons' camp -- he's still listed as a supporter on Simmons' website. But after the convention, when Simmons "curtailed" his campaign, Giuliano switched to McMahon. 



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    What if they held a debate and only one person showed up?

    That looks like the case next week as Democratic gubernatorial contender Dannel Malloy may receive one hour of free television time because his opponent, Ned Lamont, says he will not be debating.

    The contest is scheduled to be broadcast at 3 p.m. on August 3 on WFSB, Channel 3, and on the radio at WNPR, along with rebroadcasts later that night.

    Lamont can always change his mind over the next week, but he says he has already participated in more than 25 joint appearances over the last several months around the state.

    He intends to participate with other gubernatorial candidates in the Windham Region Chamber of Commerce's breakfast forum Thursday at a hotel on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs.

    Lamont said in an interview that he prefers a detailed discussion of important issues, rather than 30-second or 60-second responses that are traditionally required in televised debates.

    "You end up with a lot of talking points,'' Lamont said. "I like the sort of unlimited give and take, which is what I do in these town forums. ... It's a real conversation. It's not one- or two-minute answers. I love mixing it up.''

    Malloy, though, said he is hoping that Lamont changes his mind and arrives in the Channel 3 studio in Rocky Hill, where the organizers will have a lectern ready until right before the debate.

    "Most politicians would love to have an hour of TV time to themselves. I would not,'' Malloy said in an interview. "I would want Ned to be there. I would prefer that he be on the stage.''

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