HARTFORD — Republican Penny Bacchiochi, whose campaign for lieutenant governor has been involved in various controversies, fired a paid campaign consultant Thursday after she made racial comments about another candidate on Facebook.
The issue arose when candidate Heather Bond Somers of Groton called upon Bacchiochi to disavow the "defamatory comments'' by consultant Regina V. Ross Roundtree that involved "outrageous assertions about Heather Somers and her campaign.''
In a posting under her name that since has been taken down from Facebook, Roundtree wrote: "People think what they think, but help the party out and don't plaster your complete sense of privilege. This is an example of what is sometimes phrased as 'white privilege.' The way Heather talks. The arrogance and belittlement of Penny's and her family's feelings or any other person who has experienced racism. Our feelings or the fact that we may say something is an embarrassment to the party.''
Roundtree also posted: "I am working on a few social media campaigns that everyone can participate in. It is very positive, and they don't even mention Healther's name. I am also considering whether CBRAC will make a public statement about Heather's ads and the fact that party leadership has not condemned them.''
CBRAC stands for Connecticut Black Republicans and Conservatives.
Roundtree, 44, was still employed Thursday as a consultant for urban outreach for Republican Tom Foley's campaign for governor. She could not be reached for comment.
"While a Republican primary may become very heated over the discussion of a candidate's record and vision there is no place for the personal, divisive and defamatory assertions which are becoming common from the Bacchiochi camp,'' said a statement released by Somers campaign manager Jon Conradi. "The Heather Somers campaign calls on Bacchiochi to immediately disavow herself of these divisive comments which have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse.''
Roundtree has been involved in increasingly important roles recently in the state Republican Party. Her Facebook page says she is chair of the urban affairs coalition of the state party and president and CEO of Cogent Consulting LLC in the Unionville section of Farmington. That consulting firm has received at least $7,000 in payments from the Foley campaign in recent months.
Christopher Cooper, Foley's spokesman, said that "whatever involvement she had in the lieutenant governor's race is unrelated to the work she does for our campaign.''
Roundtree attended a high-profile fundraiser in Greenwich on Monday that attracted numerous Foley supporters and top contributors. The fundraiser was closed to the press, but Roundtree posted numerous pictures from the event on her Facebook page, including shots of Christie speaking at the posh home in Greenwich's upscale Belle Haven neighborhood.
The post by Roundtree came only days after Somers released a 60-second radio commercial that criticized Bacchiochi harshly.
The Somers commercial states, "Republicans have a great chance to defeat Democrat Governor Dan Malloy. So why risk it with a lieutenant governor candidate like Hartford insider Penny Bacchiochi? Oh, you know Penny Bacchiochi. She sponsored Connecticut's pro-marijuana legislation, but did you also know she was paid $110,000 by pro-marijuana DC lobbyists and then claimed the money was for travel? Bacchiochi also made headlines when she called another Republican candidate racist, but was forced to retract her ugly comments less than 48 hours later.
The commercial continues, "No wonder The Hartford Courant writes, 'A spotlight on Bacchiochi could put Republicans at a serious disadvantage.' Don't let Penny Bacchiochi blow Republican chances to take down Dan Malloy's job-crushing agenda. Vote for Heather Somers, the only Republican for lieutenant governor who can help defeat Dan Malloy and the Democrats.''
The story on Roundtree's Facebook post was first disclosed by Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie, who is a former Republican state senator.
By early Thursday afternoon, Bacchiochi had released Roundtree from the campaign.
"Regina Roundtree's comments are unacceptable and were in no way made with permission from my campaign,'' Bacchiochi said. "The campaign had no prior knowledge of the statements attributed to her that were made on a third party social media web site. The campaign has severed all ties with Ms. Roundtree.''Copyright © 2015, CT Now