Republicans tried to draw attention this week to U.S Rep. Elizabeth Esty, whose name comes up in 37 hacked emails from Sunday’s Wikileaks dump exposing the Democrats’ favoritism of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
A majority of the emails involve her participation in a DNC conference call with reporters a few months ago regarding the issue of gun control. The call followed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s appearance at the NRA leadership forum.
The May 20 conference call coordinated by the DNC featured Esty, U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, Brady Campaign president Dan Gross, and Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance.
Esty represents Newtown and was sworn into office several weeks after the massacre of 20 students and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her support for universal background checks for gun purchases is hardly news. She was the vice chairwoman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
However, Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said Tuesday that the emails show “Esty as nothing more than a mouthpiece for the DNC, showing up when and where they direct, and mouthing the very words and phrases crafted by DNC staffers.”
The emails on Wikileaks show DNC staffers sending back and forth scripts for the conference call. It’s unclear how closely Esty stayed on the script provided by the DNC.
“Whether it is gun control or anti-Trump messaging, the emails from Wikileaks show that when her political bosses at the DNC tell Esty to jump, she responds with “How high?” on the way up,” Romano said.
He said there’s no mention of her constituents in the 5th Congressional District, “only the DNC’s pre-occupation with using Esty’s office as a U.S. Congresswoman — and her apparent willingness to be used — to achieve its political goals.”
The Esty campaign dismissed the Republican criticism as completely incoherent and unsubstantiated.
“Rep. Esty is happy to highlight her support for commonsense policies to prevent gun violence and reform campaign finance laws,” Tom Stewart, Esty’s campaign manager, said. “On both counts, Rep. Esty’s record reflects the priorities of the 5th District.”
Esty, a Democrat, is seeking a third term this November in her mostly independent congressional district.
Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope, a Republican, is challenging her for the seat. Cope’s campaign manager, George Linkletter, said Tuesday that she’s not serving the people of the 5th Congressional District by trying to tie together gun control and the anti-Trump effort.
Cope himself said Esty should be focused on the economy and fighting terrorism.
“Those are the issues important to voters in right here in the 5th District, not campaigning for Hillary Clinton, or against Bernie Sanders or against Donald Trump,” Cope said.
The Esty campaign called the attempt desperate.
“It’s too bad Clay Cope is relying on Connecticut Republicans’ desperate political maneuvers rather than stating his beliefs and debating the facts,” Stewart said.
Esty has raised nearly $1.5 million and Cope, a former fashion executive and Texas native, has raised a little more than $61,000.