The death penalty has been an issue in the recent Connecticut gubernatorial election, and it seems to have spilled over into the Senatorial election, too – mostly because Dick Blumenthal can’t be bothered to remember if he started loving the death penalty in 1990, or in 2005. Then again, knowing Blumenthal… he probably decided that he could claim both and get away with it. It’s a habit with the man.
Below is a sort of timeline, sort of collected quotes that will demonstrate that… well, that Dick Blumenthal lies through his teeth. It’s pretty straightforward, but here’s the executive summary: Blumenthal claimed that he’s been for the death penalty since he first ran for Attorney General, the historical record contradicts that assertation handily, and it’s plausible to assume that Blumenthal’s conversion on the issue had to do with the political benefits from executing a notorious Connecticut serial killer. That last part’s speculative, which is why I write ‘plausible.’
Last note: some of these quotes and excerpts were made available to me. I’ve provided online sources where I could.
Part I: Blumenthal’s shifting narrative.
- CT-SEN Debate, 10/04/2010: “There are crimes that are so horrible and heinous that they merit it. And in my view, not speaking as a juror or a prosecutor, I believe that Mr. Hayes deserves the death penalty.”
- The CT Mirror, 10/04/2010: “Blumenthal opposed capital punishment as a legislator, but he said he has consistently been a supporter since his first race for attorney general in 1990.” Bolding mine.
- New York Post, 10/13/2010: “Dick has supported the death penalty for 20 years.”
- National Review Online, 10/14/2010: “On the death penalty, voters will find that his record as a lawmaker doesn’t square with his rhetoric on the campaign trail. Whereas candidate Blumenthal claims to support the death penalty for sadistic murderer Steven Hayes — who was convicted last week in the Cheshire home-invasion rape and murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley and Michaela — legislator Blumenthal played a substantial role in thwarting the creation of a workable death-penalty law in Connecticut in 1990.”
1990 is, obviously, twenty years ago. But let’s keep going with this:
Part II: The unfortunate truth.
- Transcript from CT Senate, May 2, 1990 (cache): “The death penalty not only lacks any deterrent affect. It is also been proven to be more expensive to impose than any kind of prison term. It is more expensive to house an continue the convictions, maintain the convictions of those who have been convicted and sentenced to death. That is a fact that has been proven again, and again, throughout the country. And it is the reason along with all the others, that most countries in western Europe do not have the death penalty. Most New England States do not have it. We are one of the few in the region that does.” State Senator Blumenthal was speaking against an amended death penalty bill that would have allowed aggravating factors to be taken into account during sentencing; he later voted to have the bill tabled in committee, thus killing it.
- The Advocate [Stamford] (no online link), October 3, 1990: “They differed on the death penalty. Brennan [E. Gaynor Brennan Jr.] said he would seek to reduce obstacles to the death penalty, which he called a deterrent, and Blumenthal [State Sen. Richard Blumenthal] said the measure was too easily subject to fallibility.”
- The Day [New London], Endorsement of Dick Blumenthal for Attorney General, October 31, 1990 (no online link): “For example, he opposes the death penalty. Mr. Blumenthal says the experience of defending a Florida man who had seven years on death row and came within hours of being killed shaped his opinion. Mr. Blumenthal was able to persuade a federal court to throw out the case, and an innocent man’s life was spared.”
- AP, Jan 24, 2005 (archived): Blumenthal said since becoming attorney general, he has come to believe that capital punishment serves as “a very appropriate and necessary law enforcement purpose in deterring and punishing for the most serious and heinous crimes.” The Ross matter, he said, fits that bill. Back in 1981, however, Blumenthal defended a death row inmate while working as a lawyer in private practice… Blumenthal said that experience taught him that the death penalty system needs to be improved. Bolding mine.
I believe that we have established here that Blumenthal is lying when he claims to have been for the death penalty since his run for Attorney General. In point of fact, he ran as someone who was against the death penalty; and while it is difficult to ascertain motives, one suspects that Blumenthal’s change of heart might have had something to do with the long-delayed execution of Mike Ross, otherwise known as The Roadside Strangler. Interesting detail with that one: when Ross was actually raping and murdering children in the 1980s Blumenthal was pretty staunchly against the death penalty. Same would be true when Ross was convicted (in 1987): Blumenthal was still against the death penalty. But put Blumenthal in charge of what turned out to be a pretty popular execution and all of a sudden the man’s doing everything but tying a rubber hose around Ross’s arm. Or, as Blumenthal himself put it back in May of 2005:
And I happen to be a supporter of the death penalty in cases exactly like this one, where heinous, horrible crimes are committed, whether against young women, or police officers, or others who leave victims` families, such as this gentleman, whose American dream really was devastated by Michael Ross.
Again, that’s in 2005. Back in the 1980s – when the crimes were actually happening and Ross was being convicted – Dick Blumenthal didn’t much care for that argument. And he’s lying about when he did start caring for it.
Moe Lane (crosspost)