It’s not often that The Shad hears something said by a politician that is so outrageous that it sends the Folgers out the nostrils. Rarer still is to hear it from a former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives on national television. Those feats were accomplished by former Speaker Newt Gingrich on the political show FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

Gingrich was on the show to promote his new, controversial book. He was trying to back-up his contention that the Obama administration and Democrats in general were trying to secularize society in the United States. Then the bombshell claim came. Said the former Speaker, “When you have two state legislators in Connecticut—Democrats—introduce a bill that would have literally abolished the Catholic Church in Connecticut…” [emphasis added]. Host Chris Wallace did not follow-up on the claim as Gingrich included it in a list of what he said were secularization attempts.

Viewers in Connecticut and across the country were left to wonder who the two legislators were and when did this attempted coup d’état of the church happen? Was the whole state watching American Idol or UConn basketball when someone proposed abolishing the church? Surely we would have heard about such a thing or read it in the church bulletin.

The Shad’s conclusion is that Gingrich was referring to the bill raised in the judiciary committee in the 2009 session of the state legislature that dealt with access to the Catholic Church’s finances. Two members of a Greenwich parish asked for the change when they were told they had no legal access to church records. A priest in the parish had been accused of cleaning out the place—big-time embezzlement. The two parishioners make their case here:

Just about everyone involved was surprised that a state law existed (from the early 1900s) that dealt with the church. The whole mess is explained here:

The bill never made it to the full legislature but took on a life of its own as Catholics across the state were outraged that the legislature would nose into church matters.

The guess here is that Gingrich was also referring to the chairmen of the committee, state Rep. Michael Lawlor and state Sen. Andrew McDonald. Lawlor said he wasn’t surprised by Gingrich’s remark. “It’s ridiculous on its face,” he said. He added that the misinformation-driven controversy will probably be raised again at election time.

The good news is that Catholics (The Shad included) can rest assured that despite the irresponsible nonsense from Gingrich, we can all attend Mass without the fear of the church being abolished in the state. Whew.


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination for governor and will instead run for lieutenant governor with Mike Fedele. Boughton, the darling of the anti-millionaire set, will boost the candidacy of Fedele who has yet to get the support expected of him when he first announced. Fedele’s luck with endorsements has not been good.

Back on Nov. 9th of last year, Gov. Rell announced she would not seek re-election. Later that day, Fedele let it be known that he would be seeking the nomination to succeed her. When pressed about his run that day, Fedele told reporters he had the backing and would get the endorsement of the still wildly popular Rell and that she made that commitment privately. Within a day or two, it was clear Rell was not going to endorse her number two as her successor.

Fedele has since described the non-endorsement as “an apparent mix-up.” Fast-forward 6 months and with the political nominating conventions this weekend, Gov. Rell still hasn’t endorsed Fedele or anyone else. Politicos will differ on the reasons why, but Fedele has not gotten any traction in the race, instead trailing Greenwich businessman and former Bush fund-raiser Tom Foley. Fedele did pick up the endorsement of former Congressman Chris Shays but that’s a small consolation prize to Rell as far as endorsements go. And other contenders such as economic development professional Oz Griebel have picked up various endorsements, with Griebel getting the backing of former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson and influential state Senators John McKinney and Andrew Roraback.

There’s no contention here that a Rell endorsement would made a big difference but if she had backed Fedele and actively campaigned for him around the state, he might have a better shot at the nomination. .


Apparently it’s much easier to ask the questions than answer them. Former TV anchor turned congressional candidate Janet Peckinpaugh, one of the nicest people around, was a guest on Channel 3’s “Face the State” with Dennis House yesterday. To be very generous, it didn’t go well for Peckinpaugh. One would think that her TV experience would be extremely helpful in handling the appearance. But she still has to answer the questions. In that respect, Peckinpaugh failed badly.

House and Peckinpaugh used to work together so House said at the start of the interview that Peckinpaugh would be treated like any other guest now that she was a candidate. House at one point, asked Peckinpaugh who she voted for in 2008 at which time she was already living in the 2nd congressional district. After hemming and hawing a bit (including a point where she appeared to start to say she didn’t vote) she said, “I really don’t remember.” That answer simply is not believable. Anyone in this state who hasn’t suffered head trauma can remember for whom he or she voted less than two years ago. At the very least, she should have been prepared for the question since she just recently registered as a Republican.

Combine that with a rambling answer about how the Founding Fathers intended to “have doctors and farmers and small business people” be in Congress and then “get home for the harvest” and you have a candidate who may have name recognition but can’t answer straight ahead questions.