Blumenthal endorses Lee in Corp. race

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 announced his support for Yale Corporation hopeful W. David Lee DIV ’93 yesterday, adding his name to a growing list of high-profile University graduates and politicians who have come forward in support of the controversial candidate.

Lee, the pastor of New Haven’s Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, is competing for a spot on the University’s highest policy-making body against Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86, the designer of Yale’s Women’s Table and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Alumni will vote beginning in mid-April. Votes will be tallied in late May.

In a letter he sent to Lee on March 20, Blumenthal praised the local minister’s leadership skills and integrity.

“Like every member of the Yale Corporation, you would bring to this profound responsibility the unique perspective of your life’s work and background,” Blumenthal wrote. “But beyond your personal background, you are a man of great breadth and dimension, with a powerful vision and creative grasp of Yale’s expanding role in the world and educational excellence, as well as its partnership with New Haven.”

Blumenthal would not comment further on Lee’s candidacy. Speaking through a press secretary, he said the letter would be his “only comment on the matter.”

The attorney general’s support for the local minister comes just weeks after endorsements from U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67. A host of local politicians — including New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and several members of the city’s Board of Aldermen — have also backed Lee’s candidacy.

“It was a joy to speak with the attorney general, and I am humbled by his support,” Lee said.

University representatives could not be reached for comment last night.

The University has remained somewhat silent about the contest, but alumni — some with close ties to the administration — have been waging a war of words against Lee in the pages of several Yale-affiliated publications. Letters from supporters of both candidates have appeared in the Yale Daily News, and backers on both sides have placed advertisements in the Yale Alumni Magazine.

Henry Chauncey Jr. ’57, a former university secretary, said Tuesday he did not understand why prominent politicians like Lieberman and DeLauro are endorsing Lee.

“I think [DeStefano] and Sen. Lieberman and Mrs. DeLauro, who are all personal friends of mine, are off their rockers,” Chauncey said. “They are nuts to get involved in something that is none of our business politically. In [Lieberman’s] capacity as senator, government and higher education should remain separate, and these people should be ashamed of themselves for allowing their political ambitions to involve government in a place it does not belong.”

DeStefano endorsed Lee at a Jan. 25 fund-raising event, but the mayor has been less vocal in recent weeks following a sermon in which the minister criticized the city’s school system.

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