Connecticut Heckler Has a Tricky Past


Over at TPMCafe, Greg Sargent has been trying to get to the bottom of the Connecticut Heckler kerfuffle. Who is this man, Richard F. Goodstein, who came all the way from Washington, D.C., leaving a lucrative lobby practice on hold so he could sit in a diner, munch a hamburger, and heckle progressive Democratic challenger Ned Lamont for the benefit of assembled reporters and photographers?

It turns out, this recent flap isn’t the first time Goodstein’s been in hot water. Way back in 1983, Goodstein — then a lawyer for the doomed Mondale for President campaign — “surreptitiously took” a notebook from a Philadelphia office in order to hide the nature of the campaign’s scheme to use rather flimsy outside organizations to evade fundraising laws. The action was disclosed in a 1985 book and reported in the Washington Post. (The notebook was returned soon after Goodstein took it, the paper reported; the FEC discovered the ruse, and Mondale — after losing 49 states to Ronald Reagan — paid over $379,000 in fines.)

As Goodstein told the Washington Post (article not online) at the time of its article on the topic: “It was the middle of a campaign and the stakes were high. . . It seemed to be the thing to do at the moment.”

Since the 1980s, Goodstein has worked as a lobbyist specializing in waste issues.For many years he was a staff lobbyist for Browning Ferris Industries, a giant in the trash hauling business. In 1998, when BFI closed its Washington office, he struck out on his own. Aside from a mining concern and a fuel company, Lexmark and the two Air Products divisions have been his main clients since then.

Of course, waste-related lobbying hasn’t distracted him from another major role: being a constant commentator on FOX. Nexis shows at least three dozen appearances on the network by Goodstein between 1998 and 2002. There and in other media, he has alternately been described as a Democratic “strategist,” “adviser” and “lawyer.”

Since 2002, Goodstein has lobbied for only a few clients: Kentucky-based technology manufacturer Lexmark, Inc.; Pennsylvania-based Air Products & Chemicals, an $8.1 billion concern which sells hydrogen, oxygen and other gases; and Pennsylvania-based Air Products Healthcare, which appears to be a division of AP&C.

Despite the short client list, Goodstein doesn’t seem to hurt for cash: last year he pulled in at least $360,000 in fees from those three clients. In other words, he could certainly afford that hamburger.

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