GOP lawmakers angered by Malloy’s racism comments [AP]

May 14, 2015

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Republican legislative leaders said they’re outraged by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s suggestion Wednesday that GOP opposition to part of his Second Chance Society legislation could be considered racially motivated.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said Malloy’s comments were “shameful and vile,” accusing him of calling people who disagree with him a racist.

“Enough is enough. I’m sick and tired of his name-calling, of his bullying and of his not getting his own way, so he pouts and walks away. It’s your classic bully mentality,” said Klarides, who stopped debate in the House of Representatives after learning of Malloy’s remarks to reporters earlier in the day.

The governor was speaking about news releases issued recently by some Republican lawmakers, who’ve criticized a proposal that would change the state’s drug-free school zones, which impose higher penalties for drug-related crimes and can often encompass entire urban areas. Malloy said to treat people living in those cities differently is “patently unfair and … if not racist in intent, is racist in its outcome.”

He said none of the Republicans has proposed “making every possession in their community, treating it the same way that every possession in Hartford or New Haven or Bridgeport is treated.”

The Democratic leadership joined in on the criticism of Malloy, releasing a joint statement with Klarides.

“This is a difficult policy issue where there can be legitimate disagreement, but ascribing motives to people on opposite sides of the issue is not productive or helpful toward the ultimate goal of passing legislation that is important to hard working families,” said House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden.

House debate resumed late Wednesday following a five-hour delay and shortly after the statement was released.
Malloy’s Second Chance Society legislation calls for classifying use and possession of drugs as a misdemeanor unless there is evidence of an attempt to sell.

Following the uproar from the Republicans, Malloy visited the state Capitol press room with his advisers to further discuss his position. When asked directly if he believes lawmakers who oppose the legislation are racist, Malloy said “whether people are racist or not” was not a point that was raised in an initial news story about his comments.

“What was raised in the article is, that (current policy) is having a disparate impact on people and there’s a correlation with respect to what the race of those individuals are,” he said, adding how the vast majority of black and Hispanic people live in urban environments in Connecticut where it’s impossible to live farther than 1,500 feet from a school.

The Second Chance Society legislation is a major initiative for Malloy’s second term. It’s part of an effort to send fewer nonviolent criminals to prison while helping former inmates better reintegrate into society. Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said legislative Republicans support many of the elements of Malloy’s plan and offered other ideas for reducing recidivism and reforming the criminal justice system.

“Republicans have shown our ability to work with the governor on these issues,” he said. “Nevertheless, the governor’s demeanor continues to create partisanship where there shouldn’t be.”