Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal's affinity for the news media is an old joke among the press corps in the state, though it hasn't yet made the rounds in Washington D.C., or so says The Hartford Courant's veteran reporter Daniela Altimari in her profile of the freshman senator.
"The junior senator from Connecticut was accustomed to being the center of the media's attention during his long tenure as state attorney general, but on Capitol Hill, he's just another freshman with a low profile and little clout," she wrote in the article, which premiered on the Courant's website Saturday. "The old joke – what's the most dangerous place in Connecticut? The space between Blumenthal and a TV camera – hasn't made the transition to Washington."
While including quotes from friends, such as Lt. Gov Nancy Wyman, who said the senator didn't go to the capitol to "whoop it up," the article questions Blumenthal's effectiveness as a senator, including the issues he chooses to pursue, such as a press conference to remind customers to double check their utility bills and another to warn about layaway plans and their high interest rates.
"Cable charges and layaway plans: Is that why Blumenthal fought so hard against multimillionaire businesswoman Linda McMahon to win a seat in the most powerful legislative body in the world?" Altimari asked in her article.
Blumenthal was not apologetic for those choices, Altimari said, quoting him as being "proud of continuing to champion consumer issues."
Closer to home, in Hartford, a war of words has erupted over the alleged food stamp fraud scandal in which 34 state workers stand accused of illegally profiting from emergency food stamp aid issued following Tropical Storm Irene.
Lawyer Rich Rochlin, who said he represents some of the state employees implicated in the scandal, has been on a crusade to demonstrate what he said was a flawed food stamp application process rather than fraud. He even created a website called takethedsnapchallenge.com
Rochlin apparently attended a press conference Gov Dannel Malloy held to announce his new chief of staff and, according to Christine Stuart, of the CT News Junkie, tried to hand Malloy's spokeswoman, Juliet Manalan, a food stamp application, challenging her to fill it out.
Manalan later called Rochlin a "little odd," according to CT News Junkie, while Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy's senior communciations adviser, was quoted by several media outlets, including WTNH, as saying Rochlin may not be "playing with a full deck."
Malloy later distanced himself from Occhiogrosso's remarks while Rochlin pledged to continue his plight on behalf of his clients.
"This is a war, and we certainly have the stamina and tenacity as long as necessary to exonerate the folks that I represent that had no intention to defraud anybody," Rochlin told the Courant's Christopher Keating.