Accusing Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 of using a “25-year-old picture” for his profile in the government blue book, Martha Dean spoke caustically of the three-term incumbent in a televised debate between the two candidates Wednesday evening in the Yale Law School auditorium.
Dean, a Hartford lawyer, criticized Blumenthal for excessive suits against local and international firms, “grandstanding” for the media, and overstepping his bounds as top lawyer in the state.
“I will seek to end the ‘sue first, ask questions later’ policy that has come to embody our Attorney General Richard Blumenthal,” said Dean, a 43-year-old Avon resident. “It cuts across party lines, philosophical lines — it’s just wrong.”
Blumenthal, who holds a substantial lead in the polls, defended his record as a protector of the individual citizen, citing his court battles with Islander East about the Cross Sound Cable project and a litany of other companies for allegedly defrauding consumers.
“My goal is not simply to recover money for the state of Connecticut but for the individuals involved,” said Blumenthal, 50, the first attorney general in the history of Connecticut to serve more than two terms.
Dean said Blumenthal has been too aggressive in his elected role, taking on more cases than the state can finance and attacking issues beyond the parameters of the job.
At one point, responding to a question about the prosecution of sexually abusive clergy, Blumenthal noted that such criminal investigations were not his domain.
“That’s wonderful to hear that there’s a limit to the power of the attorney general,” Dean said.
Later, Dean turned to the incumbent and chastised his alleged abuse of authority.
“If you want to be governor, sorry. You have to run for it,” she said.
The two clashed specifically over the proposed project to run energy cables through Long Island Sound to provide energy to the state of New York, a venture Blumenthal said is both an unwise business proposition and a hazard to the offshore ecosystem. Dean believes the project would benefit the state, increasing its financial connections to New York.
“The whole purpose of being the United States is to work together to use an infrastructure to benefit us all,” Dean said of the cables.
Emissions from power plants in the Midwest also surfaced as a hot topic, since Blumenthal has devoted time to ensuring that those companies are in compliance with the federal government’s Clean Air Act. Dean argued that addressing federal concerns such as breaches in emissions standards and the breakup of Microsoft is a duplication of effort.
Blumenthal voiced his support of affirmative action and the war on drugs, while opposing the possibility of more Native American casinos.
Dean promised to de-politicize the office of the attorney general and create a more business-friendly environment in the state.
“He sues too much, he costs too much,” concluded Dean. “We can no longer afford Richard Blumenthal.”
Blumenthal closed by restating his commitment to upholding the law to protect the state’s honest citizens.
“When regulators fail to enforce the law, we do a disservice to ourselves, our children and our country,” Blumenthal said.