The campaigns of U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Republican 5th District challenger Mark Greenberg are swapping accusations this week over the lack of debates between the two candidates scheduled before the Nov. 4 election.

Esty and Greenberg met for their first debate in Danbury last week. Only one more debate is scheduled, before the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 21. That’s despite Greenberg’s insistence that he’ll debate as many times as Esty is willing, and the Esty campaign’s accusation that Greenberg has dodged debates she’s wanted to schedule.

The fighting started when Esty’s campaign issued a press release earlier this month claiming that Greenberg had “dropped out” of two of the four debates that had been scheduled for the 5th District campaign this fall. The sponsors of those debates, the Republican-American of Waterbury and the League of Women Voters in New Britain, clarified that Greenberg didn’t “drop out” – he just never committed to the dates they’d proposed.

Greenberg responded with a letter directly to Esty saying he’d participate in “any debate sponsored by a nonpartisan organization” before the election. He requested that she share her schedule “as soon as possible so that we may participate in as many debates as possible.”

His campaign was more blistering in a press release issued around the same time.

“After being caught lying about candidate debates in the 5th District Congressional race, Elizabeth Esty should come clean and agree to actually debate Mark Greenberg,” it said. “Last Friday, Elizabeth Esty tried to create another one of her serial ‘made-up issues’ in order to distract attention from the disastrous policies of Dan Malloy and Barack Obama which she has supported, ‘with every breath,’ over the past two years.”

The campaign said that “Mark Greenberg has unilaterally agreed to debate Esty on any terms.”

Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, said that he’s heard nothing from the Esty camp about scheduling more debates since then.

“We will debate any time, any day, any place,” he said.

Evans wouldn’t say why “any time, any day, any place” didn’t include the Republican-American and New Britain League of Women Voters debates.

Laura Maloney, Esty’s spokesman, said that their campaign is willing to participate and is actively attempting to schedule additional debates or candidate forums.

“We had two debates planned this week, one in Torrington and one in New Britain,” she said. “I find it odd that after pulling out of these debates, Mark Greenberg is now saying he wants to do them—conveniently now that it’s too late for the organizers to set them up.”

Matt DeRienzo is the editor of the Center for Public Integrity.

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