UPDATE: A senior Senate Democratic Caucus staffer contacted The Hanging Shad shortly after the posting of this story. He insisted that there has been no effort to cover up Sen. Maynard’s condition or the circumstances of his auto accident last week. He added that while Sen. Maynard may not have done interviews with reporters since his July 2014 injury, he is fully engaged with constituents and certainly up to the job of a state senator.
NOTE: Yet another inconsistency in what Senate Democrats told reporters v. what really happened in Sen. Maynard’s accident came to light Tuesday. After the crash, a caucus spokesman said Maynard was conscious when he was taken to the hospital. But an attorney for Maynard says differently. The Day of New London’s Joe Wojtas writes Tuesday, “…Maynard suffered a severe concussion…[Maynard attorney] Robert Reardon said Monday that Maynard, whom he spoke to in the hospital Sunday, doesn’t remember anything about the crash, as he was knocked unconscious.” Is this yet another attempt to minimize what happened regarding Maynard? It fits a pattern.
There are two parallel stories about the plight of Connecticut state Sen. Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington). The more important one is about his health, his recovery from a tragic fall, then a car accident, and those who are pulling for him. The other is about the Senate Democrats handling of Maynard’s situation, accusations that he is essentially unable to serve and being propped up. There are also indications that the caucus is giving out false information, badly botching the situation. His constituents and Sen. Maynard himself deserve better.
What we have now is the drip, drip, drip of (mostly false) information about Sen. Maynard’s car accident on Route 32 in Waterford last Thursday. First, we were told it was a one-car accident with Maynard’s car running down an embankment. Then, it was disclosed that Maynard’s car hit another before heading down the incline. Now, Monday morning, we hear Maynard may have been traveling in the wrong direction on Route 32.
Reporters The Shad has spoken to are not happy that the Senate Democrats (the caucus in which I once worked) put out false information about the car wreck. Ryan Blessing of the Norwich Bulletin writes, “The police investigation sheds light on initial reports that incorrectly said Maynard was in a single-car crash as he returned to Stonington from a Democratic caucus in Hartford. That report came from caucus spokesman Adam Joseph about two hours after the crash.”
This is Public Relations 101. First, don’t lie to or mislead the press particularly when reporters can eventually find out the information is false. Second, get out ahead of the story and control the narrative to the extent it’s possible. There is nothing to be gained by having information come out piecemeal.
Once a spokesman is seen as misleading or providing false information to the press, reporters will be suspect of anything he has to say in the future. And rightly so. The spokesman already has credibility problems in regard to Maynard. A nice, glossy, franked mail piece designed to inform constituents clearly was not written by Maynard.
Maynard’s car accident is the latest chapter of a story that dates back to July 2014 when he suffered serious injuries—including a traumatic brain injury—in a fall at his Stonington home. Since then accounts of his condition and status of his recovery have varied because the caucus is essentially keeping Maynard under wraps. It is known that he suffered a serious head injury, spending months in the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain.
The Day of New London’s David Collins seems to be the only who has been realistic and honest about Maynard’s situation. Collins is a friend and constituent of Maynard’s but realizes he has an obligation as a reporter and columnist to be forthright.
Meanwhile, the Senate Democrats are digging a hole they won’t be able to crawl out of without looking like they engaged in what amounts to a cover up. We need to pray for Andy Maynard’s recovery. He doesn’t need to be a senator regardless of how much more time he needs to be invested in the state pension system.
As far as the car accident itself, questions abound. A caucus spokesman said Maynard was cleared to drive. That doesn’t mean he should. When I served as communications director for the caucus, one of my favorite senators was Edith Prague. She was (and is) fiery as ever. But she was also in her 80s. We routinely had a staffer drive her home to Columbia.
So do we now have the full story or is there more?
• Was Maynard driving the car (see paragraph above)?
• If he was driving, why was he driving given his traumatic brain injury?
• Why did the Senate Dems tell the media that it was a one-car crash?
• Why did the Senate Dems tell the media the accident doesn’t affect his ability to serve? Obviously it does.
The Senate Democrats are not doing anyone any favors by being dishonest about Sen. Maynard’s situation. They need to set the record straight before more information comes out.