After having his integrity questioned repeatedly during Thursday night’s televised debate, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy dragged every skeleton he could from Republican Tom Foley’s closet and put them on display.
The two gubernatorial rivals repeatedly made verbal attacks on each other before a crowd of 1,100 at the University of Connecticut’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. But Malloy, a first-term Democrat, waited until near the end of the hour to respond to an implication by Foley that he engaged in corruption as mayor of Stamford.
“Tom has attacked my integrity several times tonight and I’ve kept quiet about it. But I want to say this Tom, that’s not the way we treat each other and certainly someone in a glass house shouldn’t be throwing stones,” he said.
Then Malloy let loose a barrage of attacks on incidents from Foley’s past. He started with a penalty Foley paid to election regulators last year, then moved into more personal territory.
“I’m not the person who failed to disclose to the FBI that he’d been arrested. I’m not the person who didn’t tell the full truth about the incidents involving women in the car that you struck five different times at rates of speed . . . going 50 mph,” he said.
The latter allegation stems from a 1981 incident, reported by the Hartford Courant, in which Foley was arrested in Long Island on charges that he had followed a car full of people after a party in his Toyota Land Cruiser. According to documents obtained by the newspaper, Foley struck the car with his SUV five times at a high speed.
Malloy went further during a post-debate press conference, when he referred to another arrest in 1993, when Foley’s former wife said he drove her vehicle from the road with their son in the car.
“I never drove my wife off a road,” Malloy told reporters as his wife, Cathy Malloy, stood nearby. “I never did those things.”
The governor said Foley prompted the attack by implying he was corrupt. In response to an earlier question, Foley pointed to a 2004 investigation by former Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano into work done on Malloy’s house while he was mayor of Stamford. Malloy was cleared of any wrongdoing in the investigation.
“You’ve questioned me, you’ve questioned my integrity, Tom. I would not have done that, nor would I have raised these subjects but for the fact that you’ve gone a little over the top,” he said during the debate. Malloy said he was proud of his record as a former mayor and a former prosecutor.
Foley responded, “Have you seen your attack ads? Yeah, you’re a prosecutor. You’re a better prosecutor than you are a governor, sir.”
Foley said the case against him was dismissed and occurred a long time ago. He suggested that he and Malloy should “call a truce on this stuff” or keep fighting. He said the voters would be better served by a truce.
“I think the end of the debate here was kind of a waste of the viewers’ time,” Foley told reporters afterward. “He’s talking about things that happened a long time ago and most of them aren’t even true and they don’t have anything to do with Connecticut’s future.”
Asked which allegations were not true, Foley said he was not traveling 50 mph during the 1981 incident. He said the police report referenced in the Courant article was a complaint submitted by one of the passengers in the other car — not by an officer. Foley was arrested for the incident and spent a night in jail, according to the Courant article from 2010.
Foley downplayed the incident Thursday night and said Malloy was trying to distract voters from his record as governor.
“The governor doesn’t want to talk about his record because the record is abysmal. We’ve had 1 percent growth in the economy here,” he said.
Malloy told reporters it was appropriate for him to respond to Foley’s reference to the corruption investigation. “I’m not the guy who made it personal tonight,” he said.
“The governor’s been out there with negative attack ads, saying things about me that are not true for months. So it would be a little bit of a stretch to say I started it,” he said.
The two will meet again on Oct. 9 for a debate hosted by the Connecticut Broadcasters Association. After that there will be another three debates, but Foley is likely to participate in only two of those. Foley’s campaign couldn’t come to terms with NBC Connecticut for the Oct. 23 debate.