Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a mea culpa Friday after he was caught attending an event linked to the Communist Party USA.
What is the background?
The Connecticut People's World Committee hosted its annual Amistad Awards last Saturday, Dec. 11. Not only did Blumenthal attend the event, but he honored the award winners with "certificates of special recognition" from the United States Senate, according to the Yankee Institute.
The problem is: The Connecticut People's World Committee is directly associated with the Communist Party USA, and last Saturday's award ceremony was hosted in honor of the Communist Party USA's 102nd birthday.
What is Blumenthal saying now?
After his appearance at the event generated criticism, Blumenthal is now claiming ignorance.
In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Blumenthal said he was unaware of the event's links to the Communist Party USA, and said he would not have attended the event if he had known the ties.
"My understanding was that this ceremony was strictly a labor event. If I had known the details, I wouldn’t have gone," Blumenthal said. "Let me just say very emphatically, I’m a Democrat and a strong believer in American capitalism. I have been consistently a Democrat and a strong supporter and believer in American capitalism."
The Democratic senator further pleaded his case of ignorance by suggesting some details fall through the cracks of his busy schedule.
"I go to a lot of events, places, meetings, rallies, and ceremonies in Connecticut. I’m delighted to be invited anywhere, and in this instance, I was invited by local labor unions to honor these three individuals, and that’s why I was there. That’s pretty much it," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal also dismissed the criticism.
"People are going to do what they’re going to do. I’m just going to keep doing my job for the people of Connecticut. There’s a lot at stake in the Senate right now - voting rights, the ongoing pandemic, making childcare affordable, lowering prescription drug prices. That’s where my focus is," he told the Courant.
Did he really not know?
Video from the event suggests Blumenthal could not have been unaware the event was linked to the Communist Party USA. In fact, the person who introduced Blumenthal noted "how important the Communist Party is."
Event emcee Ben McManus also highlighted the connection to the Communist Party USA, the Yankee Institute noted.
"We invite you to join the Communist Party in this epic time as we make good trouble to uproot systemic racism, retool the war economy, tax the rich, address climate change, secure voting rights and create a new socialist system that puts people, peace and planet before profits," McManus reportedly said at the event.