State Senate candidates clash over fundraising ethics, jobs

posted Sep 22, 2012, 11:31 AM by Sam Gilchrist   [ updated Sep 22, 2012, 11:32 AM ]
Posted Sep 10, 2012 @ 10:31 AM
Last update Sep 10, 2012 @ 11:34 AM

Fundraising methods and jobs were major points of contention during and after the first debate in the 19th District State Senate campaign last week.

Thursday’s radio debate on the Lee Elci Show was not the first debate ever between state Rep. Chris Coutu, R-Norwich, and Sprague First Selectman Cathy Osten. The two competed for a General Assembly house seat two years ago, a race that Coutu won, and interacted several times.

Following Thursday’s hour-long debate, Osten issued a press release contrasting Coutu’s jobs record unfavorably with her own, saying her opponent is misleading the public with “false claims.” The Democrat said the Republican has done “nothing” to bring jobs to Eastern Connecticut while she has “repeatedly worked with elected officials to battle factory closings and pushed legislation benefiting local businesses.”

Coutu’s vote against a “jobs bill” championed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was criticized by Osten. The Republican, when asked for a response by The Bulletin, said the bill has done little to help Eastern Connecticut, especially small businesses.

“Ms. Osten …has a selective memory and trouble with her arithmetic,” Coutu wrote in an email.

Coutu has repeatedly called upon candidates to reject “special interest” donations. He questioned Osten’s claim to be accepting donations “only from individuals” because of her decision to use public financing for her campaign. Osten has accepted $10,000 from the Working Families Party, Dem PAC and other special interests, he said.

 Osten questioned the propriety of Coutu accepting donations during his aborted run for Congress from political action committees connected to insurers Cigna and WellPoint while serving on the General Assembly’s Insurance Committee.

Serving her third term as Sprague’s top elected official, Osten touted her record of holding down taxes during the Thursday debate. Her decision to have her campaign financed with public/taxpayer money is proof that Osten is not committed to lowering people’s tax burden, said Coutu, a two-term state representative.

The two are scheduled to participate in a forum at Otis Library in Norwich today, Sept. 10, beginning at 7 p.m. They have repeatedly criticized each other’s willingness to debate. Osten said Coutu ducked one-on-one debates during their campaign two years ago. Coutu released a list of at least six debates/forums the two participated in and challenged Osten to debate following her Aug. 14 primary victory over state Rep. Tom Reynolds, D-Ledyard. Osten accepted the challenge and earlier in the season suggested Coutu could participate in at least one debate involving her and Reynolds.

Coutu and Osten are vying to replace state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, who is retiring after holding the seat for 18 years. Prague endorsed Osten soon after announcing her retirement. The district covers Norwich, Ledyard, Montville, Lisbon, Sprague, Franklin, Lebanon, Columbia, Hebron, and Marlborough.

Tonight’s forum will also include competitors in two state House races – Republican Mikel Middleton and Democrat Emmett Riley in the 46th District and Republican Noah Enslow and Democrat Brian Sear in the 47th District.

Read more: State Senate candidates clash over fundraising ethics, jobs - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin

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