HARTFORD, CT — Republican legislative leaders are crying foul over House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz’s decision to go golfing earlier this week while they were meeting with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy discussing how to resolve a $5.1 billion deficit over the next two years.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano said if Aresimowicz wasn’t able to come to the hour-long meeting due to a scheduling conflict, then he should have said something.
Aresimowicz was at the Italian American Golf Tournament at Tunxis Golf Club in Farmington on Tuesday, and did not attend the noon meeting in Malloy’s state Capitol office. Instead, he sent House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and two other staff members.
Liz Connelly, a spokeswoman for Aresimowicz, said he did not become aware of the meeting until last Friday. She said after speaking to Senate Democrats and learning their leaders would also not be there, “it was clear that it wasn’t going to be a budget negotiations meeting.”
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, was unable to attend because he was getting ready for surgery. Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, attended the meeting via telephone. Looney sent Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, as his proxy.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, canceled previously scheduled plans to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
“If it was true budget negotiations the Speaker would have been in attendance,” Connelly added.
Klarides said Friday that Republican leaders were asked to attend the meeting and they made arrangements to be there.
“Republicans leaders showed the state of Connecticut, that’s our priority,” Klarides said Friday in a text.
Fasano said he can understand having a scheduling conflict because they are all busy people. He said Aresimowicz should have called Republican leaders too to let them know he would not be able to attend.
However, Fasano added that to say that it wasn’t budget negotiations is insulting.
“This is from a guy who has failed to provide a line-by-line budget,” Fasano said. “These guys do not have a line-by-line budget. How do you have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have a line-by-line budget?”
So if the speaker isn’t in the room then it isn’t a budget negotiation?
“I guess he can’t seem to get in his brain Democrats no longer control the building,” Fasano said.
Fasano said Aresimowicz could have attended the meeting and caught up to this golf foursome on the fourth hole.
“Where are his priorities?” Fasano questioned.
Attorney and blogger Kevin Rennie was the first to report on Aresimowicz’s golf outing Thursday on his Daily Ructions blog.
Asked by CTNewsJunkie on Tuesday where Aresimowicz was, a spokesman said only that he was “unavailable” and declined further comment.