After steering clear of two arrests in Tom Foley’s past for most of the gubernatorial campaign, Democrat Dan Malloy has called attention to his GOP rival’s record twice over the past two days, including a new television ad released Wednesday evening.
Foley, who has narrowed Malloy’s lead to 5 percentage points in one poll this week and drawn even in another, said voters don’t care about two long-ago incidents in which charges were dropped, and that Malloy is acting out of desperation in a tight race.
“Here’s what Tom Foley says about himself,” a narrator states to open the ad, which immediately shifts to a cut of the Greenwich Republican saying: “I’m someone you can trust.”
The narrator’s quick response: “Oh really?”
“Tom Foley lied to the FBI about his arrest record during a background check. When asked if he’d ever been arrested for a felony, Foley said ‘No.’”
The commercial goes on to cite Hartford Courant reporting from June and July that disclosed Foley was arrested in 1981 and in 1993 in connection with incidents in which he was accused of ramming one car and running another off the road.
Foley, a former ambassador to Ireland who was subjected to an FBI background check for that diplomatic post, has confirmed that he did not disclose either arrest on screening forms he submitted to the bureau.
But Foley also said the ads contain nothing new and are designed to reverse Malloy’s slippage in the polls.
“They are a desperate group trying to change a campaign that’s failing,” he said. “Dan Malloy’s trying to raise the issue of credibility when he’s blown his own. I don’t know why he’s insisting on talking about things that don’t really matter to the voters of Connecticut.
This year’s gubernatorial contest has been marked by several exchanges, both during debates and other public events, when the two major party candidates have accused the other of lying, particularly about how they would close the $3.3 billion state budget deficit projected for next fiscal year.
Foley insists that Malloy is hiding several billion dollars worth of tax hikes he would need to support the spending priorities he has outlined. Malloy says his GOP rival’s claim that the largest deficit in state history can be closed without any tax hikes — and that nearly $2 billion in municipal education aid can simultaneously be spared from any cuts — is unachievable and dishonest.
“The fact is he (Foley) lied to the FBI because he wanted a political job,” Roy Occhiogrosso, senior adviser to the Malloy campaign, said Wednesday. “He’s the one that made character and credibility an issue and this (ad) goes to the hub of his.”
“Tom Foley — If he lied to the FBI, how can we trust him to be governor? ” the commercial concludes.
Foley, who was confronted by his GOP rivals about these arrests during the summer primary campaign, said he accidentally struck another car after a party in 1981, and the occupants told police they were rammed. Foley was charged with assault. The records of the incident are sealed.
Foley and his ex-wife, Lisa, were charged with breach of peace in the 1993 incident, which involved an argument over whether Lisa Foley had violated the terms of a child custody agreement.
In a late June interview with The Mirror, Foley said neither incident came up during his interview by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, when President George W. Bush nominated him as ambassador to Ireland in 2006. He said he did not make a point of disclosing the two arrests, but he was subject to a detailed FBI background check.
“To be an ambassador, you have to have a top-secret clearance,” Foley said in June. “I’m sure they were aware of both the incidents, and it was not a problem for them.”
Malloy first broached the topic Tuesday during the final, televised debate of the campaign, a forum at the West Hartford studios of WVIT Channel 30.
“Will you explain to the people of the state of Connecticut why they should trust you when you lied to the FBI?” Malloy said during the debate. “You’re a smart guy. You should have known that was the wrong thing to do.”
“These issues, Dan, were taken care of in the primary,” Foley responded.