Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rell and the Republicans

Right up to the very end of his time in office, John Rowland had partisans. There was always a group of people who defended the governor no matter what revelations were made or what ugly truths were exposed. Rowland had friends all over the state, many in powerful positions in government or media, who could be counted on for at least the appearance of support.

Richard Nixon was the same. Even in the darkest days of Watergate, Nixon had a network of friends and supporters in positions of power. One only has to look at the current White House to find them.

Both men relied on the power of personal ties and political party to bind followers to them, and each had an enthusiastic legislative echo chamber. For Rowland, especially, the Republican Party became his first and greatest line of defense in the face of scandal.

Almost exactly two years ago, during the days just after Rowland's admission that he had lied about contracting work done on his cabin, Republicans sprang into action:

With their leader under fire politically and legally, the state Republican Party is launching a multi-pronged counterattack against Democratic calls for Gov. John G. Rowland to resign.


The GOP's rally-the-troops effort involves calling all 71 Republican state legislators in the state House and Senate to directly spread Rowland's message and seek input from all corners of the state. In public and in private, Republicans have already started to rally around Rowland. Rell and U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson were both standing side by side Sunday with Rowland in South Windsor at a party for family members of Connecticut National Guard troops who are deployed overseas. (Keating)

It was only when Republicans like Shays began turning on Rowland in droves that his resignation became inevitable. In the beginning, however, Republicans seemed willing to defend their leader come hell or high water.

So what happened? Now, Republicans seem to be blessed with a governor whose approval ratings are consistently among the highest in the nation, and whose re-election seems assured (thus granting the Republican Party another four years of influence in state government) in 2006.

Yet when a mild ethics scandal is threatening the governor's chief of staff, the only thing anyone is hearing from the state Republican Party is a deafening silence. Where are Rell's friends and defenders? Where are her partisans?

The answer may be that she doesn't really have any. Republicans, who would ordinarily make up the majority of her supporters, have been increasingly alientated by her moderate-to-liberal positions on publicly-funded elections and civil unions. The governor's support in the legislature has been on the wane. Just three Republicans voted for the campaign finance reform package that she had been pushing since February, despite promises from the governor's office that the bill would have GOP support. Republicans are also not pleased that she has assented to Democratic tax increases, and has proposed a few of her own.

Conservatives have a lingering suspicion, seemingly confirmed by her support for minimum wage increases, civil unions, public financing of elections and tax increases, that she is not one of them. Rowland was, so they would move heaven and earth for him. Rell, on the other hand, only provokes the mildest of enthusiasm from most Republicans.

Democrats, despite the fact that she has either implemented, assisted or allowed much of their agenda, see the "R" next to her name, remember the ten years she spent at Rowland's side, and treat her as the opposition.

So when things get tough next year, as they inevitably will, where will Jodi Rell turn?


Keating, Christopher and David Lightman. "GOP Rallies Around Rowland; But Shays Critical of Governor." Hartford Courant 16 December, 2003.


Anonymous said...

It's not as much about Rell's so called liberal positions but her flip flopping almost without notice and then striking suboptimal compromises that is driving the GOP crazy. Gotta wonder how much of this was on the advice of Moody.

Genghis Conn said...

Hard to say. If, as is speculated, Moody resigns, we'll have a chance to see whether her style of governing changes.

Anonymous said...

There may be something else here with the Republicans as well. They recovered quite well from defending Johnny and maybe consider themselves lucky. The posting is right that Shays made a scene to get rid of Rowland but just weeks before that he had said publicly in Rowland's defense that he was an "honest" person.

And if the stories are true about the way Moody often ran afoul of the GOP in the General Assembly, they may just want her gone and see this as an opportunity to make that happen. And this time around it is an election year witht the rowland denial everybody, including Rowland, had just won back their seats.

Anonymous said...

Genghis...i disagree that the scandel is mild....its obvious you are shilling for republicans and im disapointed that you pronounced the scandel mild dispite 2 front page stories and a couple of state agencies have a conclusion before the juries do and i see its a republican one.

ctkeith said...


I can't believe how easily you are fooled over and over again.


Rell and Lieberman are not popular. They have name recognition, ONLY.

Depth of support is what matters and both of these creeps have very shallow puddles as far as that goes.Sunshine evaporates puddles and so does the spotlight.

Neither Rell nor Lieberman will be re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Antone else have the feeling that this isn't the first time Moody has done this.....

DeanFan84 said...


I have to disagree. Former Democratic V-P candidate, Joe Lieberman is exceedinlgy popular with Republicans! 69% of all CT Republicans approve of Joe!

What does it mean when such a prominent Dem is actually loved by the other side?

For the record, Joe leads all Democrats in terms of Republican approval. He is also the only Democratic Senator who scores better with R's than D's! (10% points better, shame on you Joe.)

What amazes me more than Joe's betrayal of his Party, is that CT Dems seemingly turn a blind eye to the treachery....

Chris MC said...

Nice post GC.

Guys, can we please keep this thread on topic?

Perhaps GC can post a thread dedicated to rehashing the Lieberman controversy before this one goes to hell.

Chris MC said...

To the topic of your post, GC, Rell is looking more and more like the political equivalent of an (anatomical) appendix: served some purpose at some point in time, but nobody can figure out what exactly, and in any case she is at best superfluous and at worst a site for gangrene to develop.

DeanFan84 said...

More open threads, please?? The last one was posted more than three days ago, and it seems strange posting that far down the page.

Chris Mc-
We have always treated any thread as more or less an open discussion. It is not like there are some many posts that the wheat is getting lost in the chaff.

I jumped to Lieberman because both Joe and Rell are playing the same game of "triangulation". Rell can play to both sides, but I believe she is ignoring her base at her own peril.

Chris MC said...

OK, that is the second time you referred to what Lieberman is doing as triangulation. Which in my opinion is interesting, and I have a different view. But I really don't want to/won't continue it here.

I agree, to bring it back on topic, that Rell is a triangulator, and I'll post to that later (unless someone else posts my same thoughts first).

Anonymous said...

A very good commentary on Rell's position both in the Republican Party and in the general scheme of things: Democrats want the office; Republicans have not warmed to yet another moderate Republican; and the media ... well, the media is the media. At some point, someone wil have to try to make some necessary distinctions on campaign finance and ethics reform. We can't be sending all our politicians to coventry for ethical lapses. Moody's lapse, though, was more serious: There are laws, after all. We have to decide whether we want political parties at all. And if we do, we cannot continue to criminalize politics.

DeanFan84 said...

I hope everyone has read this Courant article, "Moody Ignored Ethics Warning, Counsel Reminded Her Of Rules".
It hints at a potentially bigger scandal involving state commissioners, who would be violating State Law if they were to solicit for campaign donations.

Moody supposedly gave several of the commissioners multiple invitations to Rell fundraisers. One for their self, and others for them to distribute. Yikes!

"Criminalizing politics"? Isn't that the Republican talking point they has been circulating in the wake of the Delay, Libby and Abramoff indictments?

IOKIYAR,(it's okay if you are a Republican.) Is that the line you are pushing?

Lisa Moody broke the rules. As an enduring member of Team Rowland, she's used to breaking the rules.

I don't care if she lands in jail, but she sure ought to be dismissed from her State job. The longer she sticks around, the more Rell risks a deeper investigation...

Conn-Tiki said...


A good analysis of the Rell situation in re: GOPers; her support from her own party does seem rather thin. Maybe governing from the center only works for New Democrats?

And she ought to fire Moody, if she wants to keep her cred as "upright reformer." The stink of scandal far worse than the reality.

Anonymous said...

We all know whay contractors and lobbyists giving money is a problem. They expect to get a return on their money

Please explain why a state department head giving money to an incumbent is bad whan it is ok for city department heads to contribute to their bosses' campaigns in Stamford and New Haven?

Are we playing by the same rules or whatever rules help the Democrats?

Independent1 said...

The lack of public GOP support may be simply that they are hearing from the public what I seem to be hearing: this doesn't have any traction with them. I'm not downplaying the issues, but outside of the Courant, most 'real' people seem to think this is about Moody passing out invites. No one is worked up about this, other than the partisans. Maybe this will change if something else breaks, but I don't see it right now.

Aldon Hynes said...

Based in large part on my reading of the Hartford Courant article, Moody Ignored Ethics Warning and my discussions at a holiday party with people who are not especially politically involved, I would like to offer a few observations.

The article states: ”Rachel Rubin told Moody that campaign activities on state property during the work day were prohibited, the sources said, and Moody said she would not do it again. But just days later, Moody gave invitations to several state commissioners at the Capitol, touching off investigations that could lead to civil and criminal charges.”

It goes on to say, ”The kind of activity observed by Rubin does not violate state election law, according to Jeffrey Garfield, director of the elections enforcement commission. It does violate policies spelled out in a three-page memo that Rubin distributed to top Rell administration officials on Oct. 19.”

What is illegal, according to Courant is “Solicitation of campaign funds by commissioners and their deputies …, which Rubin's Oct. 19 memo also noted.”

The Courant also notes that "State law says that someone who ‘knowingly and willingly’ violates election law can face up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine."

What do I make of all of this? It would seem as if Moody has most likely violated Rell’s ethics policies repeatedly, knowingly and willfully. However, since she is Chief of Staff and not a Commissioner she may not have actually broken any election law.

Likewise, the commissioners and their deputies that contributed to the campaign may not have broken any election law. However, those who did what Moody is accused of asking them to do, redistribute the fundraising request, may have broken state election law. They may not have done it knowingly or willfully, so it is possible that none of them will be indicted on criminal charges.

It may also be difficult to ascertain which contributions were the results of illegal activities. Some of the people that contributed probably would have contributed if they were solicited legally.

All of this gets a tad arcane and based on discussions today, I suspect most voters won’t pay any attention to it. What they will pay attention to are the questions of whether Rell is really as ethical as she attempts to paint herself as, and probably more importantly, how effective a leader is she if she is so inept at getting people close to her to follow her policies.

Based on the generality of Rell’s ineptness and the lack of interest in the campaign fundraising issue, it doesn’t make sense for Republicans to do more than just hope this will blow over soon and be forgotten. Having Robert Ward making statements that Rell is neither a crook nor inept probably doesn’t help Rell much at this point.

Moderate Republican said...

Genghis and Gang,

Very simple why there is no response from the Republicans....there is nothing to respond to.

Moody screwed up. She has been suspended. End of story.

We are more than happy to let DeStefano and Malloy look foolish trying to link Rell to Rowland. Have a ball. You won't win with that strategy.

Republicans love Rell and you will see her support in the upcoming months as she raises a ton of money WITHOUT the special interests that have bought and paid for DeStefano and Malloy.

Spirit of 1776 said...

Rell hasn't been completey alone. Remember Bob Ward's ill-conceived complaint filed against John DeStefano for operating heavy equipment without a license? However, except for this embarassing episode the Governor has been without republican allies. It's this simple, she can't govern without the democrats. Republicans in Connecticut better wake up and adopt much the same approach as Rell to ever have a chance of improving their pathetic standing in the General Assembly. I wish they would, the democrats just continue to disappoint.

Chris MC said...

S of 76:

Huh? Did you just say that the Republicans should act like Rell and play ball with the Democrats, who continue to disappoint?

Blue in CD2 said...

"We are more than happy to let DeStefano and Malloy look foolish trying to link Rell to Rowland. Have a ball. You won't win with that strategy."

With all due respect Moderate (R), how can anyone look foolish when "trying" to trace a line from the C.E.O. to the second-in-command?

There is no try. There is no effort. There is no looking foolish.


Who knows if that strategy will win or lose, but for christ sake at least admit to yourself that there is an obvious link between the two people.

Would you say there was much of a "link" between John Gotti and his top Lieutenant?

*end rant*

Anonymous said...

Nice touch,. Compare the Republican party to a crime fmaily. There's a positive vision for the state if I ever saw one.

Come back with the parallel when there's a tape of Rowland ordering Rell to do something illegal. Since that is why Mr. Gravano flipped on Mr. Gotti.

If you don;t have any evidence, don't make any accusations

Blue in CD2 said...


I never made any accusations. All Im saying is that no one is looking foolish when trying to form some basic connections between Rowland and Rell.

Rowland was removed from office because of ethical issues. Rell has been in the office less than a year and her office already has had at least 2 issues of possible ethical impropriety(the pamphlets and the T.V. commercial), and one other problem that resulted in the suspension of her top aide.

Ideological similarities? Ethics problems? Surrounding yourself with yes-men?

Cleary no connection between Rowland and Rell.

Anonymous said...

good thing the DeStefano doesnt depend on ALdon for legal adise he is dead wrong...and wrong about how the public will think as well...we just dont know yet how they will reacte and Aldon doesnt have any campaign experience to know.

Anonymous said...

Blue in CD 2 (you should be since Simmons beat you guys like rented mules)

I suggest you watch the new Clooney movie as it is clear the only Democratic strategy is to use McCarthyism against Rell

Have you no shame?