The battle for state Comptroller won’t be confined to the courtroom, at least not if Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura has his way.
Registered Democrats received a piece of mail this weekend from Jarjura slamming his opponent in the race for state comptroller, Kevin Lembo. The negative mailing accuses Lembo of lying and mentions vague statements many dating back to 1996 and some as far back as 1988. None of the statements are made with much context, but Lembo’s campaign was quick to respond to them.
On Saturday, Lembo said he was “appalled by the distortions and lies” being disseminated by his opponent.
“Connecticut is facing an almost $4 billion budget deficit. We are competing here to be the Comptroller of the State of Connecticut, and to administer a $19 billion budget,“ Lembo, the state’s health care advocate, said. “The Mayor’s campaign strategy is to use copyrighted music for a cartoon campaign hit? What kind of debate on the issues is this?”
“Some of my opponents’ claims are just bizarre,“ Lembo added. “But let me be clear – I have never lied to the people of Connecticut or distorted my record.”
In addition to the mailer Jarjura also launched an Internet site, LemboLies. The statements included on the mailer allege Lembo had a tax lien filed against him when he lived in New Jersey and another accused Lembo of backing a $3 billion increase in state spending.
“I have never proposed a $3 billion increase in state spending, ever,“ Lembo, who would not have had occasion as assistant comptroller or health care advocate to make such a suggestion, said. “Having been a home owner in three states, I am unaware of any personal credit issues or unpaid bills.”
Jarjura cited a 1988 and 1996 court lien in New Jersey, which Lembo denies being aware of since he’s lived in three states and never had any credit problems.
“Lembo was Chief of Staff for a right-wing Republican who worked against health care reform, against a woman’s right to choose and proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 70,“ the Jarjura mailer reads citing a Sept. 30, 1997 Daily News article.
Lembo did work as chief of staff to Betsy McCaughey, the lieutenant governor in the administration of New York Gov. George Pataki.
“I didn’t (and still don’t) agree with every policy position Betsy takes,“ Lembo said of his former boss, who ended up becoming a Democrat and running against Pataki. “But for the record, she is probably less conservative than the mayor of Waterbury; she actually supports a woman’s right to choose.”
“It is truly unfortunate that the mayor of Waterbury and his cronies think that singing songs and distorting my record is more important than talking about their own,” Lembo said.
Lembo’s lawyers will be in Hartford Superior Court Monday defending him against Jarjura’s lawsuit, which alleges Lembo should not have access to his $375,000 public grant approved last week by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.