Herbst says Nappier ad false, sends cease and desist letter

Tim Herbst speaks during New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Tom Foley's campaign stop in Trumbull Oct. 6.
Tim Herbst speaks during New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s and Tom Foley’s campaign stop in Trumbull Oct. 6.

First Selectman Tim Herbst is calling a new television commercial, released by Denise Nappier’s campaign “false and defamatory.” An attorney for Herbst has sent a cease and desist letter to local television stations urging them to stop airing the commercial, since his campaign says it makes a false claim about Herbst’s father’s employment with the town.

Nappier’s advertisement says Tim “approved a $600-a day contract for his father,” that he received on top of his pension. Michael Herbst, who retired as athletic director last winter, was rehired as interim director for the remainder of last school year, by a vote of the Board of Education.

The rehiring lead to some criticism by local Democrats. Tim Herbst’s mother, Deborah Herbst is the Board of Education chairman. She reportedly recused herself and left the building when the board voted to rehire her husband on the interim basis. He was rehired and paid a $618-dollar a day salary. The district has since hired a new athletic director.

The advertisement also says Herbst “steered” $1 million of town business to his former law firm, Owens, Schine, & Nicola, which serves as the town’s counsel.

The commercial calls Tim Herbst “a conflict of interest for Connecticut.”

Herbst’s campaign spokesman responded to the commercial Wednesday.

“Mr. [Michael] Herbst has been an educator, coach and administrator serving the Town of Trumbull for decades. To use a political campaign to impugn his integrity is just wrong,” according to JR Romano spokesman for Herbst’s campaign.

“Ms. Nappier and her campaign have shown a disdain for the political process during the entirety of this campaign,” added Romano. “When you can’t explain to the voters what you’ve done, and what you plan to do — all you’re left with are personal attacks, but to levy these attacks against Tim’s father is just uncalled for.”

In a letter sent to WVIT, WTNH, WFSB and FOXCT, Attorney Robert D. Russo says the advertisement’s central claim is false.

“As can be easily verified by the enclosed minutes of the Trumbull Board of Education, the Advertisement contains clearly false information deliberately intended to misrepresent that Mr. Herbst gave his father Michael Herbst a job in the Trumbull School system after he retired,” the attorney’s letter said. “Mr. Herbst had neither the power to do so, nor was he in any way involved in any decisions involving his father’s employment. Because the Advertisement conveys messages that are plainly disproven by fact, we respectfully demand that your station immediately stop airing the Advertisement and that no further airings of this false content be allowed on your station.”

Herbst has been actively campaigning, releasing his own commercials, attacking Nappier’s record. He has also challenged the state treasurer to a debate. Nappier dropped out of one debate, citing personal reasons. Another debate is scheduled to air Nov. 2, on NBC30.

“Why won’t Ms. Nappier answer questions about the way she’s conducted business in her office? Why can’t she answer for the sub-par performance of the pension funds? Why has she left teachers and state retirees wondering whether they will be able to rely on a pension in the future?”  Romano wrote Wednesday.