Attorney who has represented York inmate families running for Attorney General
Ken Krayeske, the firebrand Hartford civil rights attorney, is again running for office on the Green Party ballot line, this time for Connecticut’s attorney general.
Krayeske frequently clashes with the office of incumbent Democrat Attorney General William Tong in court. He has been lead counsel in a number of lawsuits against the state Department of Correction, some of which are cases involving York Correctional Institution in Niantic.
In March of this year during a news conference supporting legislation that would require oversight of the Department of Correction’s health care, Krayeske cited numerous problems with health care at York — only some of which he was an active litigator in.
“I’m here for Tiana Laboy, who gave birth on a toilet. The Attorney General’s Office asked her if she could’ve given birth on the bed instead,” he said at the time. “I’m here for Mojah Neish, who had a medical event and sat in the infirmary at York Correctional for three days before she was taken to a hospital…I’m here for Desiree Diaz who ... wasn’t in for 24 hours when she was detoxing and when they found her in the morning, she was in rigor mortis. She wasn’t convicted of a crime, but she suffered a death sentence. I’m here for Cara Tangreti. She was repeatedly raped by multiple different correctional officers when she was at York.”
Krayeske represented Laboy, and is now representing the family of Diaz, as Tong’s office defends the state.
During an interview with The Day, he took issue with how Tong has directed his office during his first term.
“The difference that I propose with Attorney General’s office is that the state of Connecticut is one of the most vicious litigants in the state of Connecticut,” Krayeske said. “At any one time the state has 20% of the docket in federal court because of prisoner and other human rights litigation. They treat every case as if it’s a capital murder, and they make you do the same amount of work for a broken finger as they do for a woman who gave birth in a prison cell.”
Tong’s campaign manager Lori Fernand defended the state’s high level of litigation in an emailed statement to The Day.
"A primary constitutional and statutory responsibility of the Office of the Attorney General is to serve as the state's lawyer and to represent the state, its agencies, and officials,” she wrote in the statement. “State attorneys general have a legal and ethical obligation to zealously represent their state clients, and must take that obligation very seriously. Any candidate for attorney general must understand that."
Krayeske accused Tong of scaling back civil rights and remedies available to people when they sue the state of Connecticut.
“Attorney General Tong trumpets his wins against corporations. But he doesn’t trumpet his wins that restrict human rights in Connecticut, like the case of Cara Tangreti,” he said. “Cara Tangreti was repeatedly sexually assaulted by four corrections officers, all of whom were prosecuted and incarcerated, however, because they were prosecuted and incarcerated, she can’t sue them because they’re broke. We have to assume that the DOC should be liable to her…she was repeatedly sexually assaulted while she was in the custody of the DOC.”
On a larger level, Krayeske said he opposes Tong’s “way of using the law to expand executive branch power at the expense of the citizen.”
Fernand wrote in an email that Tong is proud of his first four years in office.
“Last year alone…Tong returned $973,376,747 million back to the state, to Connecticut families, and Connecticut businesses– 29 times the office’s operating cost,” Fernand wrote. “Tong is taking on the toughest fights, and he won't back down when it comes to protecting Connecticut families. He took on Purdue, the Sacklers and the entire addiction industry to bring billions of dollars to fight the opioid epidemic…He's taking on Facebook and TikTok, Big Pharma, and robocall scammers. He took on Eversource and returned over $100 million to ratepayers…he's not done fighting the big health insurers, utilities, and banks over their unaffordable rates and unacceptable service.”
Krayeske saved his harshest critique for the Republican Party.
“I think watching one of the parties in the two-party system veer into hard-right authoritarianism, means that we need to create other party structures to fill that void. When one of the two parties in a two-party system no longer believes in the system, but uses the system to continue to push authoritarianism and fascism, what are we supposed to do?” Krayeske said. “What happens when one of those two parties no longer believes in the rule of law?”
Fernand also was harsh in her evaluation of the GOP on Tong’s behalf, saying he “won't back down in the face of new, extremist threats to abortion access, gun violence prevention, the environment, and our democracy.”
The Republican candidate for AG is Jessica Kordas, an attorney based in New Canaan. She is running on “parents’ rights” and “freedom of speech,” among other issues, according to her website.
Kordas has voiced her opposition to mask mandates and to Gov. Ned Lamont’s extension of executive powers during the COVID-19 pandemic. She responded to Krayeske’s and the Tong campaign’s comments on Republicans on Friday.
“It’s frustrating for me because I think this is the nonsense politics has become. I’m put in a box ... and even without a scheduled debate ... I’m put in a box because there is an ‘R’ next to my name, so I must believe certain things, and that’s just not true,” Kordas said. “I’m a litigator, I’m a mom, that’s just really disheartened by the culture of politics on both sides.”
“I think it’s really interesting that Tong is almost hiding behind his campaign manager,” Kordas said. “Instead of commenting himself, he’s generalizing the entire GOP...To comment about ‘extremist threats,’ I don’t know who’s making them, but it’s certainly not me.”
This isn’t Krayeske’s first run for higher office in Connecticut. In 2010, he won 1.2 percent of the vote when he challenged then-U.S. Rep. John Larson for the first Congressional District seat.
Krayeske said his campaign is his litigation schedule.
“The Green Party doesn’t have enough resources to mount a ground offensive. The Green Party doesn’t have enough resources to get me on TV, because there’s been suppression against third parties for 25 years by the two party system,” he said.