Once again, Captiol Democrats try to shift the heat to the governor. And once again, they fall short.
The House Democratic Caucus sent out a release Wednesday afternoon, advertising a press event. Subject: Campaign finance reform. Featured speakers: The two co-chairs of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, state Sen. Don DeFronzo (D-New Britain) and state Rep. Chris Caruso (D-Bridgeport).Fast forward to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Room 310 in the Capitol. Caruso was there, but no DeFronzo. In fact, no Senate Democrats showed up at all.Since the running theme behind campaign finance reform this session is the inability of House and Senate Democrats to agree on a bill- leaving both camps open to ridicule from the governor- this latest one chamber event only highlighted that story line. The press conference was intended to put pressure on the governor. Caruso called on her to negotiate with legislators. He circulated an email sent by a Republican staffer that exhorted constitutents to call Democrats and tell them they should be “ashamed” of themselves. Obviously, the Democrats wanted to make Governor Jodi Rell look overbearing and partisan, so they could try to look like the reasonable camp.Without Senate Democrats there to show their flag, though, the first questions out of reporters’ mouths had nothing to do with why the governor wouldn’t negotiate, but rather why no Senate Democrats showed up. Caruso said he talked to DeFronzo personally the night before, and the Senator promised to be there. Then, a few minutes before the press conference, a Senate Democratic staffer told Caruso no one would be showing up.So- does Caruso feel DeFronzo broke his word?“I want to get a bill passed,” Caruso replied. “People who don’t want this bill want me to play into that.“Later, when we asked why he didn’t show, DeFronzo said he was called into meetings with Senate President Don Williams to talk about ethics commission reform bills the Senate was slated to take up that day. He also had to go to screening, saying that was more urgent business. Asked if he knew his not showing would appear as if he were cutting Caruso’s legs out from under him, DeFronzo says he “didn’t intend to do that,” and that he fully agrees with what Caruso said.