Fact-checking is standard operating procedure in campaigns. How much latitude does a candidate take burnishing a resume? Mayor Joe Ganim, running for governor, has received an assist from Superintendent of Schools Aresta Johnson rebutting Democratic-endorsed Ned Lamont’s claim he was a “teacher” at Harding High School more than a decade ago.
The Ganim campaign is trying to leverage Lamont’s veracity to undercut his credibility with voters. Ganim has mountain ranges of baggage, right, how dare he question veracity? Just because Ganim’s got baggage doesn’t mean Lamont’s a boy scout, or a “teacher.” It depends how you go after someone. On the campaign trail and in fundraising solicitations as well as his bio, Lamont has referred to himself “As a businessman and teacher …” Sometimes he refers to himself as a volunteer, sometimes not. It’s a declaration for more than a decade in runs for U.S. Senate in 2006 and governor in 2010, and now in 2018.
There’s no questioning Lamont’s financial pedigree. He’s a successful entrepreneur. The “teacher” thing, however is a place where a political lesson can be taught. The Ganim campaign kicked out this news release on Friday featuring school chief Johnson who pointed out “The credentialing process of a teacher is rigorous.” It’s not to be taken lightly. Johnson’s voice adds credibility to the campaign jab.
“To enhance his resume as someone who understands Connecticut urban cities and its schools, Ned Lamont has for over a decade falsely portrayed himself as a teacher at Harding High School when he was an occasional volunteer who worked under certified teachers. By falsely stating in campaign speeches and ads that he was a teacher when he really was a sometime volunteer, Ned Lamont has not only grossly exaggerated what he did at Harding High, but does a disservice to teachers throughout Connecticut,” said Ganim.
“In his speeches and on his campaign website, Ned Lamont should immediately stop making the false claim he taught at Harding High School,” said Ganim.
Bridgeport’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aresta Johnson today stated Lamont was a volunteer at Harding High, not a teacher. “We have over 600 volunteers in the Bridgeport school system. When Mr. Lamont volunteered at Harding High School, it was under the direction of the building principal as well as the classroom teacher. There were sessions facilitated by Mr. Lamont to get guest speakers but always under the direction of a certified credentialed state of Connecticut teacher. The credentialing process of a teacher is rigorous. While we have volunteers who are guides on the side they are always under the direction of a certified credentialed state of Connecticut educator.”
Hector Sanchez, who was principal at Harding High when Lamont was a volunteer, also stated Lamont was not as he has claimed a “teacher” at Harding High.
“Mr. Lamont helped bring in speakers, but as a volunteer. It wasn’t as a teacher. He wasn’t in charge of the room. There was a teacher assigned to that room.”
Will Lamont go tit for tat in the veracity department?
So far Lamont’s jabs at Ganim have been nuanced such as his visit to a New Haven wine store “Joe Ganim sent me,” Lamont joked. “I hear he’s an aficionado of great wines.” That was a reference to cases of wine Ganim accepted as part of a bribery scheme that landed him in jail.
Lamont’s political operation won’t unload on Ganim’s past unless they see him as a real threat to win the August primary. In any event that will not come until Ganim has received official word he has qualified for the ballot via his petitioning campaign.
Sometimes surrogates suffice, be it orchestrated or just someone who steps up on her own unafraid to mix it up, such as Bridgeport Board of Education member Maria Pereira who supported Ganim’s comeback for mayor in 2015, but has since soured on him. Pereira posted this comment on the Ganim for governor Facebook page.
The disservice to our “hardworking teachers” is your failure to fund the Bridgeport Public Schools by proposing three consecutive budgets with ZERO additional funds for both them and their 21,000 students you absolute hypocrite.”
Ganim recognizes Lamont has millions of dollars to unload on his past, but poking Lamont’s wealth, as he has, and now his veracity, is a risk worth taking for Ganim who enjoys the campaign chutzpah.