Tag Archive | "Richard Blumenthal"

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Blumenthal: Get Refund for ‘Cramming’


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Customers who have used and are using T-Mobile or At &T phones might be owed money for unauthorized charges.

Recently, both carriers settled with the Federal Communications Commission and 50 states after they were charged for allegedly “mobile cramming,” a term used to add small charges to bills and is akin to “modern-day pickpocketing.”

To settle the allegations, T-Mobile  paid $90 million and AT&T paid $105 million.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn.) and Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel announced the news at the Legislative Office Building on Monday.

Both urge customers to get their refunds.

“Those carriers have been profiting from those false, fraudulent fees to the tune of 30 to 40 cents of every dollar, and that is not only wrong, it’s illegal, and it should produce refunds for consumers,” Blumenthal said. “Ask the carrier, through the website or the phone number … and make the claim for refunds.”

Rosenworcel agreed and said: “It’s fraud, pure and simple.”

According to Blumenthal about one thousands of customers in Connecticut are owed a refund.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in July  produced a report, saying cramming is widespread. It states that third-party wireless billing “has been a billion dollar industry that has yielded tremendous profits for the four largest wireless carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.”

If you were a T-Mobile customers after July 2010, you can request a free account summary from July 2010 to present. The account summary is available by visiting http://t-mobilerefund.com/billing, or by calling 1-855-382-6403.

AT&T customers can file a claim by visiting http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/att-refunds.

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Michelle Obama To Visit CT


HARTFORD — First lady Michelle Obama is expected to be in Connecticut this month to campaign for Richard Blumenthal, the state attorney general who is in a close race for Connecticut’s Senate seat.

Blumenthal’s campaign announced the news on Wednesday. The event is expected to be Oct. 18. No details are yet available.

Blumenthal’s lead over Republican Linda mcMahon has shrunk according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Both a vying for Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat in Congress.

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Date Set for Democractic U.S. Senate Candidates to Debate


WEST HARTFORD — A date is set for a debate between two Democratic candidates in the 2010 United States Senate race.

Richard BlumenthalOn March I the first televised debate of the 2010 race will be live on WTIC Fox61 between Democratic candidates, Merrick Alpert and Richard Blumenthal.

Hosted at the Lincoln Theater on the campus of the University of Hartford, the debate will be open to the public. The Lincoln Theater is at the University of Hartford.

Among the topics to be discussed are the economy, health care, and foreign policy.

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Dodd Is Done With Congress


EAST HADDAM — It’s official. Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd announced today that he will not seek re-election in the 2010 senatorial race.

While Congressman John Larson (D-CT) was in the North End of Hartford today for a small business “listening” session, he announced that he had to leave for an important noon press conference. The small business owners, who earlier said they were hurting and needed money, didn’t skip a beat. One person asked: Where’s our bailout money.

Dodd’s banking friends got theirs, one restaurant owner said. No one–at least up here–cares about Dodd’s retirement.

Dodd’s retirement is actually welcome news not just to those in the North End of Hartford but across the state and the nation from a Democratic point of view.

He’s been enmeshed in allegations that he received a sweetheart mortgage deal. He was facing an tough re-election campaign. Dodd’s absence, some pundits speculate, means the Democrats are more likely to hold the seat.

Blumenthal didn’t miss a beat. He preempted Dodd’s conference and announced earlier today he would enter the 2010 election for for Dodd’s seat.

The Washington Post reports that although Dodd said he loves his job as senator, the past year has “raised challenges that insisted I take stock of my life.” He cited the strain of managing four major pieces of legislation, serving as chairman or acting chairman of two major Senate committees, losing his sister and one of his closest Senate colleagues — Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) — and battling cancer over the summer.

Read more here.

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Court Mulls Injunction On Medical Benefits For Legal Immigrants


Ann Marie Adams Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Superior Court of Hartford is mulling over whether to grant a permanent injunction in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of legal immigrants whose medical benefits ended Dec. 1.

On Dec. 9 the Greater Hartford Legal Aide Society lawyers filed an injunction after a a trial in which they argued the constitutionality of what they perceived as the state’s discrimination between legal permanent residents and citizens.

Judge Grant Miller heard both sides of the case, which was put on the court’s fast track since the lawsuit was filed on Dec. 1, the deadline for legal immigrants to appeal the state’s decision.

Social Services spokesman David Dearborn in an email to The Hartford Guardian said the department doesn’t have a comment on the lawsuit. But he did provide information about the State’s Medical Assistance for Non-citizens Program or SMANC.

About 4,800 legal residents were sent discontinuance letters notifying them that their  SMANC benefits would end Dec. 1.  Refugees were exempted.

Nicholas Yorio, an attorney with the area’s legal aide society, said those residents only had four days to file a grievance because the notice was sent out on a Friday, Nov. 20. The following week was Thanksgiving and then the deadline was on the following Monday.

According to a letter from Commissioner of Social Services Michael P. Starkowski, only 120 people had requested a hearing on Dec. 1.

Their benefits have continued, Yorio said, but the rest had their benefits terminated-unless they filed an administrative appeal. The administrative appeal has a 60-day window. But it would be a fruitless appeal because the agency would not rule against itself, Yorio said.

Hence, the lawsuit.

Hong Pham, a legal permanent resident who was formally admitted to the United States four years ago, was named in the class action suit challenging the actions of the Commissioner of Social Services that terminated state-funded medical assistance for herself and other low-income legal immigrants across the state, according to the agency’s press release.

The suit alleges that implementation by the Department of Social Services  of the sate budget law violated the constitutional rights of legal immigrants. It further states that the Equal Protection Clauses of the Connecticut and federal constitutions bar the state from discrimination between citizens and legal non-citizens.

The problem for this group, Yorio said, is that most of these people are indigents, disabled, over 65, or parents of minor children.

Plans to eliminate benefits for legal immigrants began earlier this year as the state wrangled over a budget deficit.

The termination of this program was proposed then. At that time other legal offices and religious organizations around the state alerted the Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and asked him to weigh in on this matter.

In a July 28 letter to Gov. Jodi Rell and legislative leaders, Blumenthal says that ending benefits for legal immigrants “would raise significant constitutional issues and concerns.”

According to Yorio,  Starkowski has adopted the position that this is a legislative enactment and that he is bound to follow the law.

But the legal aide society maintains there’s a serious difference of opinion regarding the constitution because “trimming the budget, though understandable in the current economic climate, is not such a compelling state interest that overrides the constitution.”

The state’s created this program in 1997 for those who have lived in the U.S for less than five years.

“For many years, Connecticut sponsored a 100%-state-funded medical coverage program for documented/legal residents who had been in the country for less than five years. The current budget crisis made a continuation of the state-funded program untenable for the SMANC recipients, except for those in [the exempted] categories,” Dearborn said.

Rell’s proposal, which makes an exception for non-citizens who need emergency care, would save the state $48 million dollars over two years.

Blumenthal says there’s precedence that the idea violates equal protection rights.

“An elimination of the state funded medical assistance in Maryland was held to be unconstitutional because a federal program provided the same kind of medical assistance to citizens. So the Maryland decision provides support to anyone challenging action by the Legislature eliminating this critical medical assistance for legal non-citizens.”

starkowskis-letter-to-blumenthal

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