Gov. Ned Lamont and his team coordinated with a pro-tolls group to hold a public town hall meeting in Westport where the governor will pitch his CT2030 plan, according to an email labeled “top secret.”
According to the email, the Lamont administration is trying to keep the meeting quiet to avoid members of No Tolls CT from attending.
“Do NOT share any of this information on social media,” the email reads. “We have advance notice of this event, thanks to Senator Will Haskell and Gov. Lamont’s office, and we want to keep that advantage over the plan’s ‘No Tolls’ opponents as long as possible.”
According to sources, the email was sent to members of the Westport Democratic Town Committee, but town officials were not aware of any scheduled meeting.
The governor’s office put out a statement shortly a day after the email was made public saying the governor had been in contact with Haskell and “multiple advocacy groups” about a “possible town hall for this Tuesday.”
“There appears to have been a miscommunication from one of these groups as to the Governor’s commitment to this event, as it is always difficult to make the date and time of the town hall work with the Governor’s schedule,” said Max Reiss, Lamont’s communications director.
The email links to an event page hosted by Angela Liptack, a Ridgefield resident and member of the ReSisters, a progressive political action group, and subset of the Westport Democratic Town Committee, that was founded in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election.
The ReSisters were part of a pro-tolls group that appeared at the Legislative Office Building on December 18 wearing matching “Pro Tolls” t-shirts to support Lamont’s transportation goals. The group says they want tolls on all vehicles to support road and highway repair and speeding up rail and bus travel.
The group was greeted by Lamont and Senators Alexandra Bergstein, D-Greenwich, and Will Haskell, D-Westport.
“Gov. Lamont needs supporters of CT2030 to show up in force in Westport,” the email says. “And that’s where you come in, because Governor Lamont is counting on ReSisters!”
The writer of the email said they hope to have 100 supporters at Bedford Middle School on Tuesday, January 7 at 7 p.m. when Lamont delivers his pitch. Since the email was released to the public, the event page was changed to “closed.”
Following release of the CT2030 plan, the governor told reporters at a press conference that he would hold town hall meetings across the state to pitch the plan, which, at the time, included 14 tolling gantries on bridges in select locations throughout Connecticut.
The plan quickly changed when Senate Democrats indicated they would not support tolling all vehicles.
The governor, along with Democrat leaders in the legislature, is now pushing a plan to toll only trucks at 12 locations throughout the state, but there were never any town hall meetings scheduled.
Lamont is pushing to hold a special session during January to pass this latest transportation proposal along with a bonding package that will give grant money to municipalities for road repair.
The governor has held off approving the Town Aid Road grant as he waited for a transportation plan to be passed, leading Republican leaders to say Lamont is holding towns “hostage” in order to push his tolling agenda.
No special session has been scheduled yet and, thus far, Democratic senators and representatives have appeared wary of supporting tolls as they come into the 2020 election year.
The email says Lamont will be “joined by local Democratic legislators who are also putting their careers on the line with this plan.”
**This article was updated to include the statement released by Max Reiss**