Herbst bills Democrats over 'political stunt'

First Selectman Tim Herbst, who is also running for governor, raised eyebrows recently sending a legal bill for more than $13,000 to the town’s Democrats over a legal challenge they did not file.

Herbst cited Trumbull Democratic Chairman Tom Kelly’s statement of support for a citizens’ referendum on returning the town to seven districts from the current four. The motion, brought by an petitioning group called Trumbull Citizens for 7 Districts, was denied by Council Chairman Carl Massaro, as was a subsequent legal challenge.

Herbst called Kelly’s support for the petitioners, “disgraceful” and said it showed “unadulterated recklessness and poor judgment” and attached a bill for $13,352.75.

“The taxpayers of Trumbull should not have to pay for your political nonsense,” he said.

The invoice included billing for 63.2 hours of town attorney time, at $200 per hour, and $712 in expenses involved in deposing Citizens group spokesman Regina Haley.

Kelly laughed off the bill, pointing out that Herbst had been the subject of numerous lawsuits and other legal actions involving the town.

“When it comes to actions that cost the town money, he’ll end up owing a lot more than I do,” Kelly said.

Haley said she was shocked that a citizens’ petition drive intended to increase voter turnout would be written off as a political stunt.

“It is astonishing that a man who is running for governor would minimize this as a political stunt,” she said. “In doing so, he negates the spirit of the almost 3,000 people who signed. And he makes it clear that he doesn't want us to vote.”

She also reiterated that the group was not affiliated with the Trumbull Democrats.

“Our actions were our own. Our data was our own. Our decisions were our own,” she said.