In government and politics, appearances count for a lot, as they did last week.
That may be why Connecticut Attorney General William Tong paused last week to declare victory over President Donald Trump’s effort to add a citizenship question on the U.S. Census.
That also may be while Trump himself, after being rebuked by the U.S. Supreme Court, declared the high court had “very strongly affirmed” the government’s right to ask the citizenship question, but added Friday he would gather the information through other sources to avoid further “meritless litigation.”
Appearances matter to Gov. Ned Lamont, too, which is why he spent a day last week in Manhattan talking up his new budget and tax policy to the Wall Street Journal (a very harsh critic) and two TV networks. He has also discovered the public relations value of the ritual of signing legislation – using nine pens to sign bills popular with the LGBTQ community.
Negative appearances can also be a problem, which is why Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo wants the Partnership for Connecticut – a nonprofit using hundreds of millions of both government and donated money to help the state’s schools – to abide by state ethics and public disclosure laws. The legislature did not require the organization to be governed by the Connecticut freedom of information statutes; but, billionaire investor Ray Dalio’s foundation did require that the state’s top officials serve on the nonprofit’s board themselves rather than assigning political appointees.
Democrats see healthcare as a huge issue in the 2020 elections, which is one reason they last week made a show of their support for the Affordable Care Act, which is being threatened again by a Republican-led lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans are well aware of the coming 2020 election, too, and three are already lining up to challenge Democratic lawmakers in the 2nd, 4th and 5th congressional districts.
The immigration issue is also deeply polarizing, and Connecticut politicians are making their opposition to the president’s practices and policies known in several ways. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro will lead a fact-finding mission to Homestead, Fla., where several presidential candidates have already attempted to visit the unaccompanied minors housed in a private facility run by a for-profit prison company.
DeLauro was also one of several Connecticut lawmakers who called Wednesday for the resignation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta for his role in the sex-trafficking prosecution of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. She got what she wanted on Friday.
State and local leaders, meanwhile, came out in numbers Friday to stand against the president’s campaign which today is to begin rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants.
Of course, not everything is about appearances, but performance. Gov. Lamont reorganized his administration last week, hiring NBC Connecticut newsman Max Reiss as new communications director. He is also expected to name Bloomfield Superintendent of Schools James Thompson Jr. as the new commissioner of education.