The Connecticut news media had a group orgasm last week when retired news anchor Janet Peckinpaugh announced that in relatively short order she had decided to become a Republican and then would save the party from itself and run for Congress in the state's Second Congressional District!
All before breakfast apparently.
The gushing from her former colleagues was sickening, literally, but it didn't appear to impress 2nd District Republicans as much as it did the media. Response from within the district delegation to the May 21 convention where a candidate will be selected to face incumbent Democrat Joe Courtney was less than enthusiastic. Whatever enthusiasm might have initially been generated by her "name recognition," was quickly dampened when delegates learned that Peckinpaugh has been a Republican for only a month or so.
Then word began to circulate that some of Peckinpaugh's so-called "supporters" who have been "urging" her to get involved actually aren't supporting her at all, or at least won't say so in public. That sure didn't help.
While there is a growing refrain within the GOP locally, statewide and nationally that the party should have more women and minorities in elected and leadership positions - a viewpoint I share, by the way - there already is one woman in the 2nd District race, Daria Novak, a former State Department employee. According to polls, delegate counts and money raised, Novak is trailing front-runner Matthew Daly by a substantial margin.
Interestingly, according to scuttlebutt and Connecticut Superior Court records, Novak and Peckinpaugh have at least three things in common - they both are divorced, they both have gone through recent foreclosure proceedings on their homes, and they both are broke. The first issue isn't likely to matter at all to the voters, the second and third are likely to matter a whole bunch.
Peckinpaugh has acknowledged her desperate financial situation, while it takes a little digging to find where Novak stands.
Online court records show that foreclosure proceedings by Wells Fargo Bank against Novak's home were finalized just this March. A summary of the court filings in the case shows it was a lengthy process that began in January 2009, and was ongoing even as she was touring the 2nd district over the past year meeting Republican Town Committee members and assuring us that she is the perfect person to straighten out Washington's financial transgressions.
Late last month another lawsuit was initiated against Novak in Milford Superior Court by the Cohen and Thomas law firm from Derby, which court records show represented Novak during her divorce. The new case is filed in the collections category, indicating perhaps that she owes them or someone they represent some money. Hardly the kind of situation you want to be in when you are just days away from the GOP convention.
I don't know the details of the cases and I don't care to other than for curiosity sake. But the fact that they exist is unsettling.
(In the interest of fairness, I got a voice mail message from Novak after this column was posted. She said it has "inaccuracies" specifically that she has "never had a mortgage in the state of Connecticut" and that "there is an ex-husband involved." I don't intend to get into a pissing match over the nuances of lawsuits here so I'll just invite you, the reader, to do what I did.
Go to this website: http://www.jud.ct.gov/jud2.htm That is the Connecticut Judicial Branch website where you can look up cases that are or were active in Connecticut's courts. Click on the link that says Civil/Family Case Look-up. On the left side of the next page there is a very user-friendly menu that gives you numerous options. Select Party Name Search. That brings up a form. In the section labeled Party Last Name, enter Novak. In the section that says Party First Name enter Daria. The sections for Location and Type of Case are set to All so just leave that alone. Click Search.
Up will come four cases in which Daria Novak is or was a party, three times as a defendant, once as a plaintiff. Three were in New Haven, one, the current case in which she is a defendant, is in Milford. Their docket numbers are: CV-10-6003007-S which is the collections issue; CV-05-4016578-S in which Novak was a defendant in a collections case brought by UNIFUND CCR PARTNERS, Attorney: TOBIN & MELIEN, 45 COURT STREET, NEW HAVEN, CT 06511. That case was filed in November 2005 and resolved in November 2006 with the judge granting a Plaintiff's motion for an Order For Payments against Novak; FA-07-4025423-S, the divorce case I mentioned earlier in which Novak was the Plaintiff and her presumably ex-husband RAYMOND PICQUET was the defendant; and CV-09-5025992-S, the foreclosure action in which the parties are listed as P (Plaintiff)WELLS FARGO BANK, Attorney: CROOG, MARTHA LAW OFFICE LLC(419166)740 NORTH MAIN STREET, SUITE N, WEST HARTFORD , CT 06117.
D RAYMOND PICQUET Self-Rep:1404 NORTHGATE SQ, APT 21,RESTON, VA 20190,
D DARIA NOVAK Self-Rep: 51 HAMMONASSETT MDWS RD.,MADISON, CT 06443
As I said in the first place, I don't care about the specifics of these cases, I care that they exist. I am not about to let this column descend into a he-said, she-said review of Ms. Novak's divorce. I am sure it was unpleasant and has caused her hardship, as most divorces do. I do care that the outfall can have an impact on the race for the 2nd Congressional District. That is why I wrote this column. Now, back to our previously written article.)
Peckinpaugh also is no stranger to the court system. First, in 1999, she won a huge sexual discrimination settlement against the former owners of the WFSB television station in Hartford where she worked as a co-anchor. The award originally was more than $8 million, but according to news reports, when the station said it would appeal the verdict, Peckinpaugh settled for $3.7 million - that's Three Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars.
Even after attorneys' fees she should have been left with about Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars, or thereabouts. Peckinpaugh is 59, nearly a senior citizen in the eyes of the Social Security Administration, and frankly, I think most of us would have been able to do quite well going into our dotage with that kind of money in the bank.
But Peckinpaugh also faced a foreclosure action on her home by Wachovia Bank last year, although she apparently got out from under it by selling her house. The matter was settled just before Christmas in 2009.
Of at least equal interest is a lawsuit that Peckinpaugh filed about six years ago in what appears to have been a business dispute, that has been hanging around the Connecticut judicial system forever. According to the online accounting of the case, it was filed in May 2004, and after six years of activity, inactivity, claims and counterclaims, Peckinpaugh suddenly withdrew it on February 8, this year!
Then in March she signed on as a Republican. Then in April she started getting the word out that she decided to run for Congress. Now in May, she intends to go to the GOP Convention for her coronation. This lady lives in the fast lane!
But in an email to Glastonbury Republican Town Chairman Bill Finn, who is Daly's campaign manager, Peckinpaugh said she also went through her entire savings, her retirement, and now is having a difficult time putting food on the table - and presumably paying the bills too. She told Finn in that email that people will identify with her financial plight in these tough economic times.
I'm not certain on that one. I think it actually could backfire on her since most out-of-work or underemployed people didn't start out the last decade with a cool two million plus.
So why on earth are these ladies running for public office, on platforms that include fiscal responsibility in Congress? Is it just me or is there some form of hypocrisy afoot?
No one in the political arena has touched either woman regarding their finances, but you can bet the farm that if it took me a total of five minutes on the Internet to find out about these cases, Joe Courtney knows all about them too. And while Republican males seem skittish about attacking their female counterparts on issues that would be all over the papers if the situation was reversed, believe me, Courtney, or at least his campaign staff and supporters won't hesitate for a split second.
Democrats, even white male Democrats, are allowed to attack anyone on the other side for any reason, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, race, national origins, height, weight, religion or belief in the 2nd Amendment. White male Democrats are allowed to raise issues with absolute impunity that would generate a media cacophony of BIAS claims if the same issues were raised by white male Republicans.
There is an obvious bias here and frankly I am sick of it. I support a plethora of Republican candidates who are categorized as minorities, of both genders, and will continue to do so as long as they share my values and vote in accordance with them.
But I am sick to death of this attitude that issues that would keep a Republican white male from even thinking about entering a race for elective office are off limits (or fair game depending on your viewpoint) for everyone else. I have myriad friends representing virtually all the major races, religions and ethnic groups, and they are my friends because they are likable people not because of where they or their ancestors were born.
I will tell people if I think they would make a good candidate for public office, and why, and I will tell people if I don't think they would make a good candidate for public office, and why. My reasons always are related to their stances on issues, ability to get their message across in public, and matters that could derail a campaign, such as felonies in their personal backgrounds. My reasoning never has had and never will have anything to do with gender, race or religion.
So even though no one in the Connecticut GOP leadership wants to ask these questions, I will. How do these ladies expect us to enthusiastically support either of their campaigns, when fiscal responsibility is such an issue and both are in the midst of enormous financial strains? They both may be very nice people and they both may be working as hard as possible to straighten out their financial issues. But isn't that where they should put their focus, on their own affairs, not on running for Congress?
I guess this is too touchy a subject for people who are running for office. But I am not running for office. In fact, I am a delegate to the GOP convention and I am not going to vote for anyone who can't stand up to scrutiny. As is the case here. So what gives?
Sunday, May 09, 2010