|Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are quietly targeting the Connecticut firefighter who's at the center of Sotomayor's most controversial ruling.|
On the eve of Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearing, her advocates have been urging journalists to scrutinize what one called the "troubled and litigious work history" of firefighter Frank Ricci.
This is opposition research: a constant shadow on Capitol Hill.
"The whole business of getting Supreme Court nominees through the process has become bloodsport," said Gary Rose, a government and politics professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
On Friday, citing in an e-mail "Frank Ricci's troubled and litigious work history," the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way drew reporters' attention to Ricci's past. Other advocates for Sotomayor have discreetly urged journalists to pursue similar story lines.
Specifically, the advocates have zeroed in on an earlier 1995 lawsuit Ricci filed claiming the city of New Haven discriminated against him because he's dyslexic. The advocates cite other Hartford Courant stories from the same era recounting how Ricci was fired by a fire department in Middletown, Conn., allegedly, Ricci said at the time, because of safety concerns he raised.
The Middletown-area fire department was subsequently fined for safety violations, but the Connecticut Department of Labor dismissed Ricci's retaliation complaint.
Damn Ricci for pointing out safety concerns.