Senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., February 4, 2020. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

After receiving backlash from Republicans, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal has insisted that he would not have attended a recent awards ceremony last week had he known it was hosted by a Communist Party affiliate.

The senator went to the event to support three friends who were honored with the Connecticut People’s World Committee’s annual “Amistad Award,” according to the Yankee Institute, a free market think tank in Connecticut. The committee is tied to the Communist Party USA and listed on the Marxist People’s World news site. Blumenthal, however, is now claiming ignorance on that connection.

“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. … Let me just say very emphatically, I’m a Democrat and a strong believer in American capitalism. I have been consistently a Democrat and a strong supporter and believer in American capitalism.”

He suggested that the drama surrounding his attendance is mostly noise and distraction, and that he’s dedicating his energy to advancing policy priorities in his state.

“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 said.

Blumenthal tried to defend his appearance as a regular engagement with the organized labor community.

“I go to a lot of events, places, meetings, rallies, and ceremonies in Connecticut. I’m delighted to be invited anywhere, and in this instance, I was invited by local labor unions to honor these three individuals, and that’s why I was there. That’s pretty much it,” he said.

The senator used his speaking platform at the original event to advocate for President Biden’s sweeping $1.7 trillion “Build Back Better” package, a $15 minimum wage, and killing the filibuster. While he affirmed the role of the capitalism in the U.S. economy in the interview with the Hartford Courant, at the event he touted the importance of “holding corporations accountable for the basic treatment of the American people.”

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