Wow, has Tom Foley gotten off on the wrong foot! It’s more like he stepped off the top step of a hardwood staircase and tumbled down to the bottom. It hurts and has lasting consequences (believe me I know). Foley’s missteps, unfounded accusations and penchant for making things worse by the minute are calling into question his candidacy and whether he is fit for public office.
Foley’s interview last Sunday on “Face the State” with host Dennis House has caused a stuff storm. State Democrats are up in arms unleashing an “Oh yeah? Well you should release your arrest records!” campaign. Fellow exploring Republican Mark Boughton is becoming a master of damning with faint praise and then subtly slapping Foley around. Gov. Dannel Malloy, like Boughton, is handling the situation perfectly. Malloy has chosen to fly higher, quickly denouncing Foley’s comments as “factually inaccurate,” but generally being dismissive of the man who came with a few thousand votes of beating him.
Add to Foley’s problems was the beating he took at the hands of some of the most respected members of the Connecticut media and he’s in big trouble. WNPR’s John Dankosky had on as guests Wednesday morning fellow WNPR host Colin McEnroe, Mark Pazniokas of CTMirror.org and House of WFSB TV whose interview started Foley’s troubles.
Foley’s mess is gold for McEnroe who said Foley has been reduced to a “bad nightclub mentalist” for his pathetic failure to back up his serious accusations and then playing was is basically a guessing game in trying to give credibility to his charges. Paz, a “print” reporter who is good on TV and radio, resisted the urge to ridicule Foley but was happy to recount the back story on his fascinating story in Wednesday’s CTMirror.
Foley is booting the routine grounder; missing the layup; fumbling the ball; blowing an empty netter. No matter what sports metaphor you prefer, Foley can’t get past the initial entrance into the race without disastrously offending just about everyone including—very importantly—the reporters and editors who will cover the 2014 gubernatorial race (and journalists in general). Even worse, Foley is recklessly throwing around allegations that sully people’s good names.
Foley blew it so badly that he incurred the wrath of the (Manchester) Journal Inquirer’s Chris Powell who is very conservative and for instance generally shares Foley’s disdain for public employees. If you’re a Republican and Powell is slapping you around before you get going, you’ve got problems.
So what was Foley’s big offense? How about letting fly a series of accusations that he hears, just maybe, that people believe, that I have two sources for, that Malloy is an unethical governor. Malloy’s a big boy, he can take it—especially when it’s nonsense.
But it’s not just that. He basically called Malloy’s campaign guru Roy Ochiogrosso a crook. Roy O. doesn’t care. On his best day he is called worse. But Foley also threw mud at state Supreme Court Judge Andrew McDonald accusing him of influence peddling on behalf of his former law firm. That’s serious stuff and Foley should be called to account for it.
Foley didn’t fix things Tuesday when he released another statement:
“On Face the State on Sunday, I made four serious accusations of improper conduct in the Malloy administration. Despite the Governor’s tepid response that these allegations are “factually incorrect,” two of them were actually substantiated yesterday. So the Governor’s statement that these accusations are not true is….well, not true. The Global Strategies Group acknowledged that they received a contract from the Access Health CT, a government agency, a mere six months after Roy Ochiogrosso left the administration. Whether or not this contract was ‘competitively bid’ doesn’t matter. A company with a partner who is a close lieutenant of the Governor getting a piece of government business so soon after leaving the administration leaves a foul smell and is, by reasonable ethical standards, improper.
“The Governor’s office and the UCONN Foundation have acknowledged that they paid for part of the Governor’s travel to Switzerland and China. What I said is that I believe the use of UCONN Foundation funds for the governor’s travel was an improper use of those funds. So there are no facts in dispute here, just opinions. Listen, if the governor wants to go to a ski resort in Switzerland to hang out with big shots while people in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven are struggling to find jobs, that is his decision, but he shouldn’t be making taxpayers and private supporters of UCONN pay for it.
“Dan Esty’s ‘lawyerly’ statement yesterday that he did not ‘employ’ the Governor does not address the claim that the governor was paid or provided something of value by Esty or a person or organization affiliated with him. I hope Mr. Esty will make a clearer statement denying the claim. The Governor’s statement on the Esty matter did not specifically deny the Esty connection and said only that Mr. Malloy was not employed by Mr. Esty. I call on the Governor to clarify whether or not he received something of value from Mr. Esty or anyone with whom Esty is affiliated. If the governor wants to settle the Esty issue quickly, all he has to do is release his tax returns from 2006 through 2010 and identify the sources of his income in those years. I call on Governor Malloy to do this.
“Governor Malloy has imposed much higher taxes on Connecticut residents while those same residents have lost 27,500 jobs since he became governor. The state last year had the worst economic performance of any state in the country. We have little to show for those economic sacrifices as our roads and bridges crumble and government services continue to decline. At times like these, we need strong leadership. Governor Malloy is not providing that leadership by leaving questions in citizens’ minds about ethical behavior in his administration. Nor is he providing good leadership by hiding behind his spokesman and surrogates. Governor Malloy owes the citizens of Connecticut an explanation directly from him and sooner rather than later.”
CT Capitol Watch reports that when asked if he would back off from the allegations after Malloy’s denials, Foley said, “Absolutely not. I’m already two for four. I was right about Roy Occhiogrosso’s firm. They’ve acknowledged he has this contract. … It stinks. It’s not OK.” What? “I’m already two for four?” If Foley thinks impugning people’s reputations is ok as long as he is right half of the time, he has no business being governor.
More and more people in the state are beginning to believe just that.