Capitol Roundup: 'Playing With a Full Deck' – or Not

Here's a look at some of the stories making political headlines.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal's affinity for the news media is an old joke among the press corps in the state, though it hasn't yet made the rounds in Washington D.C., or so says The Hartford Courant's veteran reporter Daniela Altimari in her profile of the freshman senator.

"The junior senator from Connecticut was accustomed to being the center of the media's attention during his long tenure as state attorney general, but on Capitol Hill, he's just another freshman with a low profile and little clout," she wrote in the article, which premiered on the Courant's website Saturday. "The old joke – what's the most dangerous place in Connecticut? The space between Blumenthal and a TV camera – hasn't made the transition to Washington."

While including quotes from friends, such as Lt. Gov Nancy Wyman, who said the senator didn't go to the capitol to "whoop it up," the article questions Blumenthal's effectiveness as a senator, including the issues he chooses to pursue, such as a press conference to remind customers to double check their utility bills and another to warn about layaway plans and their high interest rates.

"Cable charges and layaway plans: Is that why Blumenthal fought so hard against multimillionaire businesswoman Linda McMahon to win a seat in the most powerful legislative body in the world?" Altimari asked in her article.

Blumenthal was not apologetic for those choices, Altimari said, quoting him as being "proud of continuing to champion consumer issues."

Closer to home, in Hartford, a war of words has erupted over the alleged food stamp fraud scandal in which 34 state workers stand accused of illegally profiting from emergency food stamp aid issued following Tropical Storm Irene.

Lawyer Rich Rochlin, who said he represents some of the state employees implicated in the scandal, has been on a crusade to demonstrate what he said was a flawed food stamp application process rather than fraud. He even created a website called takethedsnapchallenge.com

Rochlin apparently attended a press conference Gov Dannel Malloy held to announce his new chief of staff and, according to Christine Stuart, of the CT News Junkie, tried to hand Malloy's spokeswoman, Juliet Manalan, a food stamp application, challenging her to fill it out.

Manalan later called Rochlin a "little odd," according to CT News Junkie, while Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy's senior communciations adviser, was quoted by several media outlets, including WTNH, as saying Rochlin may not be "playing with a full deck."

Malloy later distanced himself from Occhiogrosso's remarks while Rochlin pledged to continue his plight on behalf of his clients.

"This is a war, and we certainly have the stamina and tenacity as long as necessary to exonerate the folks that I represent that had no intention to defraud anybody," Rochlin told the Courant's Christopher Keating.

Emma December 19, 2011 at 02:48 PM
That's a headline begging for snarky comments
Bernadette December 20, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Not sure who is playing with a full deck in our country anymore. Right is wrong and wrong is right. But that, of course, is in the "eyes of its beholder." Have I clarified my point?
David A. Stevenson December 23, 2011 at 01:35 AM
Interesting to note that this Patch article made it onto the extreme right-wing internet rag NewsMax. If you ever want to get a laugh over readers who have intra-family wars about who can mis-spell more words and how all their Republican candidates are selling out their "traditional values" - their wonton disregard for families who would like to earn a living wage that would actually provide a roof over their head, food on the table and quality healthcare - then NewsMax is one of the best sources of mean-spirited discussion. You can also read marvelous echo-chamber exchanges of how President Obama is a socialist, marxist, commie born anywhere but in America - which he and Michele would like nothing better than to destroy.
Gerald M. Gaynor December 23, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Blumenthal never saw a bandwagon he wouldn't jump on and he never found one he rode to the finish line...
Michael Gianfranceschi December 23, 2011 at 11:18 PM
yeah and it's all honey and roses from extreme left sights like the daily kos and the huffington post. people ...glass houses... stones...


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