Connecticut State Rep. Ernest Hewett, a five-term Democrat from New London, is desperately trying to explain a comment made to a high school girl during a hearing on the funding of youth programs. The girl had explained that one of the youth programs had cured her of her fear of snakes. Hewett then suggested that he had a snake under the desk for her to test herself on. Hewett insisted that the comment was entirely innocent and not sexual but he has been stripped of his leadership title. On his legislative site (which is still announcing his promotion to the leadership), Hewitt posts the defining quote of his career: “Never get so high that no one can touch you, never get so low that no one will want to touch you.” It appears that no one is touching Hewitt, or his snake, this week.
After the girl was told that she was a great spokesperson for the center in question, Hewett added: “If you’re bashful I got a snake sitting under my desk here.” There was audible laughter in the room after the shocking comment.
Hewett later insisted that “What I meant to say was, if you are shy then I have an acre of land in the Everglades.” That was equally bizarre.
The president of the science center, Matt Fleury, said Friday he had passed an apology from Hewett on to the girl and she had accepted it.
Hewett said that he never had problems with female in the office, but that “I purposely will not have female interns.” Just for the record, most men are able to hire female assistants without unexplained fears or concerns. Then there is the little problem of discrimination in hiring that Hewett appears to have publicly embraced as a defense.
By the way, the last we discussed New London was when the politicians and citizens of that city used eminent domain to take the homes of their neighbors against their wishes and give them to a pharmaceutical company promising to build a facility on the site. It was a shocking act of abuse that the Court inexplicably upheld in Kelo v. The City of New London. For many, the decision of the company to then abandon its plans, after the city betrayed its own citizens and carried the cost of years of litigation, was poetic justice.
Here is an audiotape of the hearing.