Campaign promise? First, raise your right hand

Ever wonder what it would be like if politicians had to swear to tell the truth before talking about their qualifications for office?

Susan Bysiewicz is about to find out.

On Wednesday, the Democratic secretary of the state will be questioned under oath, probably on video, about whether she is qualified to run for attorney general.

It’s unlikely to become a trend. Bysiewicz is giving a deposition in the lawsuit she brought seeking a declaratory ruling that she meets the minimum statutory requirements for attorney general.

It was unclear Monday if Bysiewicz was going to object to plans by Eliot Gersten, a lawyer for the Republican Party, to videotape the deposition, which is to held at his office in Hartford.

bysiewicz press conference 2-18-10

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announcing plans to ask the courts to rule her qualified to run for attorney general. Her lawyer, Wesley Horton, is at right (file photo)

Her lawyer, Wesley Horton, raised the possibility of asking Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon to bar videotaping the session, Gersten said.

“No such objection has been filed,” Horton said. Asked if one was coming, he replied, “I have no comment at this point.”

Gersten said it would be unusual for a court to withhold permission to videotape a deposition.

“I don’t know what the big deal is,” said Chris Healy, the Republican state chairman. “If she is so proud of her legal prowess, you’d think she’d want to tell everybody about it.”

The big deal, of course, is the possibility of Gersten provoking an exchange or eliciting an answer that would create a You Tube moment, the new fear of every modern campaign.

Gersten declined to speculate when or if a videotape of her deposition would become public.

In a lawsuit filed in February, Bysiewicz sought a declaratory ruling that she is qualified and also challenged the constitutionality of a statutory requirement that a candidate for attorney general have 10 years of “active practice” in Connecticut.

Bysiewicz has been a lawyer for 24 years, but she falls short unless her 11 years as secretary of the state are counted.

A videotaped deposition would be the latest bump in the road for Bysiewicz since she abruptly ended her exploratory campaign for governor.

Bysiewicz was the front-runner for governor, but she was drawn into the race for attorney general after U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd announced in January he would not seek re-election.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal jumped into the Senate race the same day, meaning that the attorney general’s office would be open for the first time since Blumenthal was elected in 1990.

Bysiewicz, who explored a run for governor in 2006, suddenly decided she would prefer to be the state’s chief lawyer, not its chief executive.

A legal blogger questioned if Bysiewicz could meet the 10-year statutory requirement, kicking off one of the stranger controversies in Connecticut politics.

Bysiewicz initially downplayed the question, then sought an opinion by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who viewed the statutory requirement as constitutional. He offered no opinion on whether Bysiewicz qualified, suggesting she seek a judge’s opinion.

She declined, relenting only after potential delegates to the Democratic State Convention, which will endorse a candidate for attorney general in May, expressed a reluctance to vote for a candidate who might not be able to hold the office.