A pair of protesters tried their best to keep their handwritten posters that criticized former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst visible during a press conference Monday morning.
Herbst, one of five candidates running for the GOP nomination for governor, had hoped to spend the day talking about his pledge never to raise taxes.
Instead, Herbst supporters tried to block the protesters’ signs with a large “TIM” banner, and smaller placards.
On read, “Tim protects taxpayers unless they are paying for his campaign,” while the other read, “How much did the taxpayers pay for this press conference?”
Herbst defended his participation in the Citizens Election Program, which will provide him with $1.35 million for primary, and possibly another $6 million if he wins the party’s nomination.
“Quite frankly, I’m participating in the clean elections program because I want to take the special interests out of our politics,” Herbst said.
NBC Connecticut identified one of the protesters as Jeremy Wiss, the current President of the Quinnipiac College Republicans. Wiss, whose identity was confirmed to NBC Connecticut by a pair of members of the Connecticut College Republicans Executive Board, even described himself as a “Bob Stefanowski Staffer,” on his Facebook page, before removing that portion later in the day.
Immediately following the event, Wiss said he had no connections to any campaign and was not being paid to attend the event. When asked why he was in attendance, he said, “I just think that it’s extremely hypocritical that someone says that they’re fiscally conservative and meanwhile they’re taking millions of dollars from the taxpayers while our state is in fiscal ruin.”
Stefanowksi is a former General Electric and UBS executive also running for the GOP nomination. His campaign manager, Pat Trueman, denied any involvement with Monday’s display.
“I just think that it’s extremely hypocritical that someone says that they’re fiscally conservative and meanwhile they’re taking millions of dollars from the taxpayers while our state is in fiscal ruin,” Trueman said.
Stefanowski has been the loudest voice criticizing Herbst, along with Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Westport tech businessman Steve Obsitnik, who are all using public financing for their campaigns.
Reached later in the day, Herbst said of the stunt, “Stefanowski sends paid staff to disrupt opponents’ events for the same reason he skipped all six Republican debates: because he’s desperate to distract from his liberal record,” and added that Stefanowski has donated to Democrats in the past, and was a registered Democrat up until he decided to run for governor.