Born in Brooklyn, New York on February 13, 1946, Richard Blumenthal is a graduate of both Harvard College (1967) and Yale Law School (1973). In 1969 he worked as an assistant to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President Nixon’s urban affairs adviser. From 1970-76, Blumenthal served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, where, according to NBC News, he “engag[ed] in Washington drills and local projects like campground repairs.” Following a stint as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut from 1977-81, Blumenthal ran a private law practice and served as a volunteer counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund from 1981-86. He was a Democratic member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1984-87, a member of the Connecticut State Senate from 1987-90, and Connecticut’s attorney general from 1991-2011. In 2010, Blumenthal was elected to the United States Senate, a post he continues to hold.
During his tenure as attorney general, Blumenthal in 1998 helped lead a lawsuit in which 46 U.S. states accused tobacco companies of concealing from the American public the dangers of smoking. He argued that as punishment for that deception, tobacco manufacturers should be forced to reimburse the various state governments for whatever Medicaid funds they had spent on the healthcare of smokers who resided there. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the $246 billion national settlement that brought the case to a close “was structured to allow the major tobacco companies to maintain their market share and raise prices in unison in order to pass settlement costs on to smokers.” Moreover, said CEI, “Blumenthal personally steered $65 million in fees to his own allies and the associates of former Connecticut Governor John Rowland.”
In 2007, CEI dubbed Blumenthal “The Nation’s Worst Attorney General” and gave him an “F” rating, describing him as “a tireless crusader for growing the power of his own ofﬁce and spreading largesse to his cronies.” By contrast, Blumenthal in 2008 was awarded an A+ rating by the notoriously corrupt, pro-socialist, now-defunct community organization ACORN.
Between 2003-09, a number of newspaper articles quoted Blumenthal as stating, on multiple occasions, that he had seen active combat duty as a Marine during the Vietnam War. But in fact, Blumenthal never served in Vietnam. Rather, prior to his tour of duty in the Marines Reserves, he had applied for “at least five military deferments … to avoid going to war,” according to the New York Times. When reporters asked Blumenthal why he had never previously tried to set the record straight regarding his activities during the Vietnam War era, he said that while “my intention has always been to be completely clear and accurate and straightforward,” he “can’t possibly know what is reported in all” the news articles written about him.
Blumenthal has long embraced the notion that the greenhouse gases associated with human industrial activity are major contributors to potentially catastrophic climate change. In 2003 he joined a lawsuit in which Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly was seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from automobiles and other sources. In 2004 he filed suit against out-of-state utilities whose CO2 emissions were allegedly contributing to global warming. In early 2009 he urged the EPA “to declare carbon dioxide a danger to human health and welfare,” so “we can at last begin addressing the potentially disastrous threat” of “global warming,” which has the capacity “to devastate the planet and human society.” In 2013, Blumenthal impugned “climate change deniers” for failing to acknowledge “the indisputable effects of climate change in causing financial and human disasters.” And in his address to a “People’s Climate March” in New York City on September 21, 2014, he said that Americans had a “moral and scientific and political imperative” to address the crisis of climate change.
In 2009, Blumenthal was among approximately 1,000 state legislators who signed a letter, written by the Progressive States Network, which pushed for the implementation of a universal, government-run healthcare system.
Blumenthal has worked closely on a number of occasions with radical Islamist organizations. For example, he has praised the Connecticut chapter of the Hamas-affiliated Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its “admirable” efforts “to uphold the value of justice and tolerance.” And since 2011, he has spoken at several CAIR-Connecticut events alongside fellow invitees like Siraj Wahhaj and Linda Sarsour. Below are some specific examples of Blumenthal’s dealings with Islamists:
- At a 2011 CAIR banquet, Blumenthal thanked the attendees for their “friendship” and “support.”
- In November 2014, Blumenthal attended the 8th Annual Leadership Banquet of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut — an organization that, at an October 2010 event organized by CAIR — had trained FBI personnel about the dangers of “Islamophobia.”
- In October 2016, Blumenthal spoke at CAIR-Connecticut’s 13th annual banquet, which also featured an appearance by Linda Sarsour.
- That same month, Blumenthal and CAIR-Connecticut executive director Mongi Dhaouadi held a joint press conference in which they laid out a plan designed to expedite the process of bringing Syrian refugees to the United States.
- In November 2016, Blumenthal again stood with Dhaouadi and CAIR-Connecticut at the Connecticut state capitol to advocate for stronger punishments of hate crimes.
- During his re-election campaign in 2016, Senator Blumenthal received $10,000 from the Iranian American Political Action Committee, which seeks to promote policies favorable to the government of Iran.
- In December 2016, Blumenthal attended a CAIR-sponsored forum on the subject of hate crimes, held at the Islamic Center of Connecticut in Windsor.
- In February 2017, Blumenthal and Dhaouadi held a press conference to protest President Trump’s decision to place a temporary moratorium on travel to the U.S. by people from seven majority-Muslim nations that were hotbeds of terrorism. “We urge the president, abandon the Muslim ban,” said Blumenthal. “Abandon the religious test.”
Over the years, Blumenthal has received a few donations from high-ranking officials and/or board members of Islamist organizations. Specifically, from 2015-2016, he received a total of $28 in contributions from individuals affiliated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Blumenthal strongly supports the DREAM Act, legislation designed to grant amnesty and a path-to-citizenship for illegals who first came to the United States as minors. He likewise favors a broader form of “comprehensive immigration reform” that would offer similar benefits to all illegals. In January 2017, Blumenthal claimed that President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities “would be illegal” if enacted. Eleven months later, he condemned “the heartless, immoral, and unconscionable deportations and cruel decisions of this [Trump] administration.”
In September 2017, Blumenthal issued a statement in support of “Medicare for All,” a single-payer healthcare bill proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders. “Access to affordable healthcare should be a clear right, not an exorbitant luxury,” said Blumenthal. At a news conference that same month, he noted, approvingly, that “Medicare for All,” if passed, would overturn the Hyde Amendment, thereby permitting the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.
In a March 2018 appearance on CNN, Blumenthal criticized the Commerce Department for its announcement that in 2020, U.S. Census forms would include, for the first time since 1950, a question about people’s citizenship status. By Blumenthal’s telling, such a question “violates the Constitution” and would “shortchange areas of the country where there are a large number of undocumented people.” His concern was that the question would cause many illegal immigrants to skip the upcoming census out of fear of deportation, and that the resultant population undercounts in their districts might: (a) diminish the number of congressional seats allotted to those districts, and (b) cause the federal government to cut back on funding for those same districts.
In April 2018, Blumenthal was one of 12 U.S. senators who sought to punish the Sinclair Broadcast Group – widely perceived as a conservative media company – which (a) consisted of 193 television stations and 614 channels in 89 markets nationwide, and (b) had recently announced plans to acquire the Tribune Media Company’s 42 TV stations in 33 markets, a merger that, if completed, would extend Sinclair’s reach to 72% of all American households. The twelve senators included Blumenthal, Independent Bernie Sanders, and 10 other Democrats: Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, Maria Cantwell, Edward Markey, Jeff Merkley, Patty Murray, Tina Smith, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden.
- In a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai, these senators expressed concern over the fact that Sinclair had recently aired an ad showing its various local anchors reading from a corporate script extolling the virtue of “balanced journalism”; stating that “truth is neither politically ‘left or right’”; emphasizing the importance of a “commitment” to reporting that “seek[s] the truth and strive[s] to be fair, balanced and factual”; criticizing “some members of the media” for “us[ing] their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’”; and condemning “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.”
- Viewing the Sinclair ad as an implicit defense of President Donald Trump, who had long been under withering attack by media outlets nationwide, the senators wrote in their letter: “We are concerned that Sinclair is engaged in a systematic news distortion operation that seeks to undermine freedom of the press and the robust localism and diversity of viewpoint that is the foundation of our national broadcasting laws.” “We have strong concerns,” they added, “that Sinclair has violated the public interest obligation inherent in holding broadcast licenses. Sinclair may have violated the FCC’s longstanding policy against broadcast licensees deliberately distorting news by staging, slanting, or falsifying information.” In addition, the senators demanded that the FCC put on hold its review of Sinclair’s potential merger with Tribune.
In his response to the letter, Pai said he “must respectfully decline” the senators’ request “in light of my commitment to protecting the First Amendment and freedom of the press.” “I understand that you disliked or disagreed with the content of particular broadcasts,” he added, “but I can hardly think of an action more chilling of free speech than the federal government investigating a broadcast station because of disagreement with its news coverage or promotion of that coverage.”
In a December 11, 2019 appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball, Blumenthal stated that he thought up to ten Senate Republican senators would vote to convict President Trump on the impeachment charges that had been filed by the House of Representatives. “I would give the high end probably five to ten,” he said. “I think that’s a realistic number. But, and I want to emphasize the but, we need to keep in mind what’s unpredictable here. Remember the Watergate case, where the Nixon tapes emerged, seemingly by chance…and that was the end of his presidency. So, never underestimate the possibility of unpredicted evidence. And so, I think that one to ten number may increase as we see more of the evidence. It is a very, very fluid situation.”
In a December 13, 2019 appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room, Blumenthal condemned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s assertion that he would be coordinating with the White House about the upcoming Senate impeachment trial:
“It is improper. He said not only is he coordinating but taking his cues from the White House. He seems to be abandoning all pretense or semblance of objectivity and independence. It’s also unprecedented. In every one of the past proceedings, Republicans and Democrats have worked together…. I think it’s really regrettable the majority leader is already undermining the credibility of this proceeding in the eyes of the American people. I think he should change the tone and substance of his approach. Realistically he is more than just the foreman of the jury as some of our House colleagues characterized him. The foreman of a jury has only one vote, and Mitch McConnell potentially controls a lot of votes through the sway and influence he has over his fellow Republicans. That’s why he should really take himself out of this coordination with the White House, meeting with lawyers. He’s undermining the credibility of the Senate, not just himself.”
For an overview of Blumenthal’s voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Richard Blumenthal, click here.
Further Reading: “Richard Blumenthal” (Ballotpedia.org, VoteSmart.org, KeyWiki.org); “About Senator Blumenthal” (Blumenthal.senate.gov); “Blumenthal: The ‘A’ in AG is for Activist” (Connecticut Post, 8-16-2010); “The Nation’s Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General” (by Hans Bader, 1-24-2007); “Richard Blumenthal’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History” (NY Times, 5-17-2010); “Remembering Rich Blumenthal’s Vietnam Deception” (by Lloyd Billingsley, 1-16-2017).