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SUSAN BYSIEWICZ: “IT WASN’T JUST ME”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 11, 2010) — The mainstream television media and The Hartford Courant are reporting that Connecticut’s Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, has made political use of a database maintained by her office at taxpayer expense by her own admission.
Bysiewicz, who announced her candidacy for the office of Connecticut attorney general amid claims that she does not meet the Connecticut constitution’s requirement of ten years of “active practice” of law, is now the focus of a new probe opened by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s office.
Last October, Geoffrey Fisher, a West Hartford resident, filed a complaint against Bysiewicz’s office after he began to receive unsolicited newsletters and political emails from Bysiewicz’s campaign office. A former Republican legislative aide for the Connecticut House of Representatives, Fisher had contacted Bysiewicz’s office during the 2008 presidential campaign by email asking if Barack Obama was a “natural born citizen” and requesting that Bysiewicz obtain a copy of Obama’s birth certificate from Hawaiian officials as well as Obama himself. The Courant states that Fisher received no answer to his questions regarding Obama. Bysiewicz was the defendant in a case filed against her alleging that she allowed Barack Obama’s name to be placed on the Connecticut ballot for the presidency without verifying his eligibility for the office.
Fisher reportedly then contacted the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which said it did not have jurisdiction. However, the SEEC referred it to state auditors, who then referred it to the attorney general’s office, which has launched an investigation.
According to The Courant, Bysiewicz obtained the list of citizen contacts for her campaign by completing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Bysiewicz maintains that she did nothing wrong because “the database is a public record that anyone can request — even another candidate, although none has.” However, Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell came under fire for a similar incident in 2006 in which her chief of staff provided the names of the leaders of arts and tourism organizations to Rell’s re-election campaign for solicitation. Blumenthal’s office also investigated that incident and recommended no penalty.
As The Post & Email reported previously, there remain doubts about Bysiewicz’s eligibility for the position of attorney general. Despite the uncertainty, Bysiewicz has reportedly said, “I am eligible. I am moving forward.” However, the Democrat State Chairwoman, Nancy DiNardo, said, “I am concerned for the party that it does leave a question.”
When asked who made the decision to seek the list containing thousands of names for her political ambitions, Bysiewicz replied, “It wasn’t just me. It was members of our campaign.”