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RICHARD BLUMENTHAL HAS CLAIMED THAT HE “SERVED IN VIETNAM” WHEN HE DID NOT
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 18, 2010) — On March 2, 2008, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal stated to a group of veterans that he had served in Vietnam. Yesterday The New York Times published an article which refuted Blumenthal’s statement and also claimed that Blumenthal had received “at least five military deferments” so that he could finish his degree at Harvard and study abroad.
According to The New York Times, Blumenthal has misrepresented his military service at least eight different times to as many Connecticut newspapers.
Blumenthal’s senatorial campaign has called the Times article “an outrageous distortion.” Today Blumenthal held a press conference during which he was flanked by veterans and denied attempting to mislead the public about his military record. Blumenthal claims that he uttered “a few misplaced words.”
The Washington Post has provided video of Blumenthal stating that he is not a Vietnam veteran but has conceded that Blumenthal has misrepresented his service in the past.
A writer at Real Clear Politics made the observation that the revelation will “make this a very tough thing for him (Blumenthal) to overcome” because Blumenthal has admitted to “misspeaking on a number of occasions.”
Blumenthal has attended Harvard, Yale Law School, clerked for a Supreme Court Justice, and served as Connecticut’s U.S. attorney, appointed by President Carter. He has served as attorney general for the state since 1991, building a reputation for suing private companies and forcing another to remain in the state rather than relocating to Bermuda as it had planned. At the time, Blumenthal and state treasurer Denise Nappier had accused the company of misleading its shareholders to garner the votes necessary to support the relocation. Blumenthal had even asked the SEC to investigate Stanley Works and delay a revote on the issue.
When contacted about the questions surrounding the eligibility of John McCain and Barack Obama, both candidates for president in 2008, Blumenthal’s response was as follows:
April 20, 2009
Ms. Sharon Rondeau
Dear Ms. Rondeau:
Thank you for your letter requesting that I investigate President Obama’s qualifications to serve as President of the United States.
In my view, challenges to President Obama’s qualifications are without merit as were similar challenges to Senator McCain’s qualifications based on his birth in the Panama Canal Zone. Furthermore, I do not have authority under federal or state law to conduct the investigation you request.
As you may know, shortly before the election, I successfully defended a lawsuit seeking to remove then-candidate Obama from Connecticut’s ballot based on concerns similar to those you express in your letter. The United States Supreme Court refused to review the state court’s ruling dismissing the case, as it has done in several other similar cases across the country, all of which were dismissed.
As I argued in that case, state agencies and officials are not empowered to disqualify a presidential candidate — let alone office holder — based on challenges to his or her qualification for office. Rather, under our federal constitution, the United States Congress has exclusive jurisdiction to decide a person’s qualifications to serve as President. See U.S. Const. amend XX, § 3. Also, pursuant to a federal statute, members of Congress may register objections to the results of the Electoral College after the votes have been counted. See 3 U.S.C. § 15.
Thank you again for your letter.
Very truly yours,
The lawsuit to which Blumenthal refers in the letter is Wrotnowski v. Bysiewicz.
In 2010, Susan Bysiewicz, the Connecticut Secretary of the State, had been seeking the nomination from the Democrat Party for Attorney General, Blumenthal’s current position. However, in a stunning turn of events today, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision which would have permitted Bysiewicz to place her name on the ballot based on its finding that she does not meet eligibility requirements.