Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) says he would not have taken part in an awards ceremony this month had he known the ceremony was hosted by the Communist Party USA, though video shows he took stage after organizers made clear that it was a comrade conclave.
Blumenthal said in an interview on Friday that he regrets attending the awards ceremony hosted on Dec. 11 by the Connecticut People's World Committee, which is affiliated with the Communist Party USA. Blumenthal presented certificates from the Senate to three winners of the "Amistad Award," which honors labor and social justice activists, the Washington Free Beacon reported. He also touted Democrats' support for the Build Back Better Act and efforts to pass voting rights legislation.
"My understanding was that this ceremony was strictly a labor event," Blumenthal told the Hartford Courant. "If I had known the details, I wouldn't have gone." Blumenthal, one of the wealthiest members of the Senate, insisted that he is a "strong believer" in American capitalism. Blumenthal's wealth is so vast he was unaware until contacted this year by the Free Beacon of his investment in a Shanghai real estate development backed by the Chinese government.
If Blumehthal was unaware before the event of its Communist Party links, he likely knew before he took stage.
Ben McManus, one of the organizers, said the event was being held on the 102nd anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party USA. McManus praised the party for ushering in a "new socialist system" and invited viewers of the ceremony to join the Communist Party USA.
"We invite you to join the Communist Party in this epic time as we make good trouble to uproot systemic racism, retool the war economy, tax the rich, address climate change, secure voting rights and create a new socialist system that puts people, peace, and planet before profits," McManus said.
A party leader who introduced Blumenthal also issued an invitation to join the group.
"I'm a member of the Communist Party. I love it. I think it's an amazing organization," said Lisa Bergmann.
It is unclear whether Blumenthal attended the full event and why he did not pull out of the ceremony before taking stage. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
Blumenthal, who has come under fire in the past for embellishing his service in Vietnam, dismissed criticism from Republicans for attending the event.
"People are going to do what they're going to do. I'm just going to keep doing my job for the people of Connecticut. There's a lot at stake in the Senate right now—voting rights, the ongoing pandemic, making childcare affordable, lowering prescription drug prices. That's where my focus is," he told the Courant.