Sunday, February 07, 2010

Connecticut Official Scumbag Follies

Election rigging, and violations, in my opinion is a serious breach of the public trust. Are the watchdogs allowing criminal behavior to become commonplace? Is public corruption so mainstream it doesn't warrant punishment? Why should those who are supposed to investigate complaints also are in charge of defending those complained against? It seems there is a lot of conflict of interest with what Connecticut Attorney General Richard "Dick" Blumenthal is involved in.

Blumenthal seems to be for cigarette smoking, calling E Cigarettes dangerous. Cigarettes cause cancer, people fall asleep while smoking, children and families die in fires, and there might be 6000 chemicals in cigarettes. E Cigarettes contain just nicotine and "vapor" not smoke. Taxes are collected on cigarettes but not for E Cigarettes. [story]


Electronic Cigarette which "vapors" and does not smoke

If a citizen writes a blog or in a newspaper critical of Connecticut M. Jodi Rell, that citizen can be put on an arrest on sight target list. Staffers do google word searches and pass on information to the Connecticut State Police of those who are critical of the Governor, police, and/or who try to blow the whistle or expose public corruption. Why isn't Blumenthal doing anything about the gross police misconduct and brutality in the state of Connecticut? Why is jury tampering, trial court case rigging, the manufacturing and destruction of evidence, police officer perjury, and the use of courts to retaliate against citizens tolerated? [story]

What is most wrong with Connecticut Courts? [story]

Connecticut M. Jodi Rell and election fraud? Is Governor Rell not running next election to avoid prosecution? [story]


[click here] for:

Holding Elected Officials Accountable

Note: Videos and other information, scroll down

Steven G. Erickson in 2001 before being a victim on Connecticut's "Target List"


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Connecticut

Prompting A Probe: Bysiewicz Put Her Public Office's Database To Private Political Use

Jon Lender Government Watch


Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, now a Democratic candidate for state attorney general, has politically exploited a database of citizens' names assembled at taxpayers' expense by her office: Her 2010 election committee has been sending unsolicited e-mails to thousands of people in that database, promoting her candidacy and seeking campaign contributions, The Courant has learned.

And now Bysiewicz's private political use of her public office's data has come under investigation by the state's current attorney general, Richard Blumenthal. Two staff lawyers in his office are investigating a complaint lodged last October by a Republican political activist who received unwanted Bysiewicz campaign e-mails and charged that she has violated the law by misusing "official state data for a political campaign."

Bysiewicz on Saturday confirmed Blumenthal is investigating her office but denied that anything improper happened. Blumenthal could not be reached for comment.

Bysiewicz gave The Courant a copy of the written Freedom of Information Act request dated Feb. 2, 2009, through which she had her exploratory campaign committee, Friends of Susan 2010, obtain "an electronic copy of the Secretary of the State's current ... database." The database goes back to 1999, her first year in office, and contains the names of 36,000 citizens (and nearly 9,900 e-mail addresses) who have asked Bysiewicz's office for information or help, or otherwise had contact with it.

If you contact Bysiewicz's office with a question, or serve on some citizen committee involved with public voting issues that she supervises, you get put into the database and start getting periodic e-mail newsletters from the secretary of the state's office about current issues.

What happened a year ago, in effect, is that Bysiewicz, the candidate, requested and obtained the database from Bysiewicz, the state's top official in charge of conducting elections and maintaining records of business registrations. And then people started getting a second e-mail newsletter — this one from the campaign committee, Friends of Susan 2010 — some issues of which provided a way for people to donate.

There's nothing wrong with any of that, Bysiewicz said, because the database is a public record that anyone can request — even another candidate, although none has. And, she said, both the official and campaign e-mail newsletters contain an "opt-out" provision, meaning with a simple computer-click recipients can stop receiving them.

Rell Aide Drew Fire For Similar Acts
Beyond the Blumenthal investigation, there are still political questions — such as how another candidate would even know to make an FOI request for the internal database, and what use it would be to someone other than Bysiewicz, whose office dealt with the people in the database.

Asked for what public purpose the secretary of the state maintains the internal office database, Bysiewicz and her deputy, Lesley Mara, said it is used to keep track of how staff respond to constituent requests and to preserve records of how to contact people, including public officials, with whom the office deals.

The investigation comes at a delicate moment in Bysiewicz's campaign for the high-profile office now held by Blumenthal, who is not seeking re-election as he runs for the U.S. Senate. Some critics already have raised legal questions about whether Bysiewicz has actively practiced law in Connecticut long enough to meet the eligibility requirement to serve as attorney general. Those questions are still unresolved, although Bysiewicz insists they are no problem.

The other potential political problem is that Bysiewicz's campaign use of the official data is reminiscent of a highly publicized controversy over a 2006 campaign incident involving Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell's chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody. In that incident, Moody ordered that an official address list of the leaders of arts and tourism organizations statewide be copied onto a computer disk — which she then provided to Rell's re-election campaign committee for use in fundraising solicitations.

Blumenthal investigated that, too, and produced a report saying state equipment apparently was used to comply with Moody's orders. No sanctions were recommended or imposed.

The arts list was a public record containing scores of names — not thousands, like Bysiewicz's. Asked what the difference is between what she did and what Moody did, Bysiewicz said, "We made a formal request" in writing, which documents the transaction with "openness and transparency."

As a result, she said, any questions about what people in her office did on state time can now be answered. She said her staff answered the request as they would any other FOI request, after Jason Doucette, then treasurer of Friends of Susan 2010, sent the FOI letter last February to Mara in behalf of Bysiewicz as a candidate.

At the time, Bysiewicz was considering a run for governor. But last month she shifted her sights onto the attorney general race — where there are fewer competitors — once Blumenthal announced he would seek the seat that will be vacated by U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who is retiring rather than face re-election as his popularity has plummeted.

Although Bysiewicz's committee gathered much of its money when she was considering a gubernatorial candidacy, she can legally use it to run for attorney general. Last month, before much of the recent negative publicity came out about her eligibility for attorney general, a Quinnipiac University poll showed her with a strong lead over potential competitors. There has been no Quinnipiac poll on the race since.

Citizen's Complaint Spurred Probe
The investigation by Blumenthal grows out of a complaint filed last Oct. 18 with the State Elections Enforcement Commission by Geoffrey Fisher, a former member of the West Hartford Board of Education who also worked from 1989 to 1995 as a legislative aide for the state House of Representatives' Republican Caucus. He recently moved to Florida.

Fisher said that on Nov. 23 and Dec. 5, 2008, he wrote e-mails to Bysiewicz asking: "Is Barack H. Obama II a natural born citizen?" A number of citizens across the country have raised questions about whether Obama was born in Hawaii, as he and officials in Hawaii say, or in Africa; the "Birthers," as Obama's defenders have dubbed them, say he shouldn't be president if he wasn't born in this country.

Fisher asked Bysiewicz, among other things, to write to Obama and request a birth certificate from Hawaii.

In his Oct. 18 e-mail complaint to the elections agency, Fisher said he received no answer from Bysiewicz to his original e-mails, but three months later (and soon after Bysiewicz's campaign committee requested the office database) he started getting e-mail newsletters from both Bysiewicz's office and her campaign committee.

The elections agency said it had no jurisdiction in the matter, and referred it to the state auditors, who brought in Blumenthal's office. On Thursday, Fisher received an e-mail from Blumenthal's office saying it is investigating. One of Blumenthal's investigators, Thomas J. Martin, wrote to Fisher: "Your complaint at Elections Enforcement has been referred to my office for investigation. I am looking to speak to you regarding your complaint."

Mara, Bysiewicz's deputy secretary of the state, said Saturday that she heard weeks ago from Stephen R. Park, a lawyer in Blumenthal's "Whistle Blower" investigation unit, and she expects that this week he will interview her and two other Bysiewicz staffers who handled the campaign's FOI request.

She said the fact that Blumenthal is investigating doesn't mean the attorney general believes there were any irregularities or improprieties. "I do not believe that the fact that they're looking into this is a sign of anything other than that they are doing their job," Mara said.

Although Fisher is the only person to file a formal complaint, others — Democrats, too — have called The Courant to raise questions about Bysiewicz's sending unsolicited campaign e-mails to those who dealt only briefly with her office. Bysiewicz said she has had people send e-mails to "opt out" of receiving further ones, but has not gotten significant complaints.

•Jon Lender can be reached at jlender@courant.com, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115.

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This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

My beefs in a nutshell:

http://thegetjusticecoalition.blogspot.com/2010/02/holding-elected-officials-accountable.html

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