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Giusti: It Was a Typo [Update]

Paul Giusti, a Republican seeking the New Canaan first selectman's office, said he never intended to mislead constituents.

Update 9:55 a.m.

Saying he didn't do anything wrong and that the website supporting his candidacy for New Canaan's first selectman had a simple typo, Paul Giusti on Thursday morning told Patch he worked as COO, not CEO, of The Fortress Group.

"I made a mistake on the website. I take responsibility for it and it's my website but someone made a mistake," Giusti said. "At the end of the day this is a typographical error on our website."

"I didn't do anything wrong," he added.

The section of the website detailing his background has been updated.

Addressing the question of his professional timeline (see original story below), Giusti said: "The problem is it's confusing as hell," Giusti said. "But I've been CEO of Brookstone Homes from 1989 to the present."

"Every single piece of literature out there says I was COO," Giusti said.

"I'm very disappointed. I have tried to run a very positive campaign and very upbeat campaign. These kinds of attempts to impugn someone's character are wrong. At the end of the day we're all friends and neighbors here," Giusti said.

Giusti said it bothers him that his team "got it [the job title] wrong."

Giusti told Patch it's unfair to call his professional experience into question, that he doesn't expect special treatment, but does expect to be treated fairly.

Giusti supplied the following background to Patch:

After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1985, I worked for GE for several years.  I left the firm in March 1989 to start a real estate development company in the greater Chicago area.  In 1994, after acquiring a small home building firm in Southeastern Wisconsin, we changed the name of the company to Brookstone Homes. In 1996, I sold Brookstone Homes to The Fortress Group – a publicly traded company that was consolidating the home building business.  Kathy and I had decided to move back to Connecticut for personal reasons which prompted my decision to sell the company.  My intention was to remain as Chief Executive Officer of Brookstone Homes for a period of time and then eventually leave the firm.  Instead, the management of The Fortress Group asked me to take on role of a Vice President and then ultimately promoted me to be the Chief Operating Officer of the entire company.  I remained Chief Executive Officer of Brookstone Homes, which was a division of The Fortress Group, throughout this entire time – essentially holding two titles within the same company.  That sometimes leads to some confusion. In 2001, as the Board of Directors of The Fortress Group decided to divest itself of certain assets, Brookstone Homes was put up for sale.  At that time, I resigned from The Fortress Group and was ultimately the successful bidder for Brookstone Homes.  I have owned Brookstone Homes and served at the company’s Chief Executive Officer since that time. In all the information that I have produced over the past decade – including as recently as a full page advertisement in today’s (June 2) New Canaan Advertiser and all our printed campaign literature for this campaign – I have indicated that I served as Chief Executive Officer of Brookstone Homes as well as the Chief Operating Officer of The Fortress Group.

Original Story

In his bid to become first selectman of New Canaan, Paul Giusti cites business experience as proof of his ability to lead.

As part of his campaign to secure the nomination Giusti, a Republican, launched a website in April. The “About Paul” section says Giusti was “the Chief Executive Officer of The Fortress Group, a firm with 1,200 employees and over $750 million in sales."

Yet according to Fortress documents and information obtained by Patch, Giusti never rose above the level of chief operating officer.

Giusti could not be reached for comment.

The Fortress Group collapsed in 2002 and was the subject of an article by Gerry Donohue, a writer for Big Builder online. Donohue, now an editor at The American Council of Engineering in Washington, D.C., told Patch that he didn't recognize Giusti's name.

“I remember George Yeonas was CEO because I interviewed him for the article," Donohue said. "I don’t remember the name Paul [Giusti] at all.”

Fiscal responsibility and transparency are on the minds of New Canaan voters.

This week, was convened to investigate why some members of the Town Council seemingly about a $617,000 judgment against the town, handed down by the American Arbitration Association in a dispute about the bridge on Lakeview Avenue. In a subsequent meeting last week, took full responsibility for failing to communicate information about the arbitration award to the town’s governing bodies. Walker said he had been told of the judgment against the town in late February.

Yeonas, now executive vice president and COO for Homebuilding Operations of TOUSA, Inc. was listed as CEO of The Fortress Group on his bio for TOUSA. According to Yeonas’ bio, he was CEO of The Fortress Group.

Yeonas could not be reached for comment.

Donohue said Fortress collapsed because “it was a bad idea."

"They were jumping on the bandwagon like everybody else to consolidate small companies in to one large company," Donohue said.

Also in question is the timeline Giusti provides on his website and social networking sites.

According to Giusti’s LinkedIn profile, he was CEO of Brookstone from 1989 to the present. The LinkedIn entry makes no mention of Fortress.

According to an April 24, 2000 Washington Post index, Giusti was promoted to COO of the Fortress Group the same month and year that Yeonas was promoted to CEO. In 2000, Giusti was listed as executive vice president and COO of Fortress, while Yeonas was still listed as president and CEO, according to the same Washington Post index.

In addition, according to a March 30, 2001 PR Newswire release, Giusti resigned from The Fortress Group in January 2001 to “take part in the competitive bid process for Brookstone Homes.”

Finally, Giusti is listed as COO, but never CEO, in the Fortress Group’s May 23, 2001 annual shareholder meeting report.

New Canaan's incoming first selectman will command an operating budget of more than $120 million and help oversee about 180 employees.

Jay June 03, 2011 at 04:56 PM
I am truly shocked, not merely "shocked" at Mr. Giusti's attack on Mr. Mallozzi in the Advertiser. I thought Paul was a stand-up guy and wasn't going to run a negative campaign. He even says in this article that he wants to run a "positive" and "upbeat" campaign yet attacks his opponent on an issue where there is more than enough blame to go around on the bridge issue, including the Board of Finance of which Paul is a member, the Town Council, and the Board of Selectmen, of which Rob is a member. The First Selectman has already accepted responsibility and Rob had the decency in his letter to admit we can all do better - without mocking his opponent I might add. Where does Paul take any responsibility for any role he might have played as a town official? Can we learn and move on now from the bridge disaster and have a discussion instead about how we, together, can achieve transparency in public decision-making? Or why stores keep leaving downtown and how we might revitalize our commercial center? Or how we can stop the insiders from lining their pockets with special projects and consulting fees? I like both guys personally but I do not trust Paul's supporters - including those who would keep us from exercising our First Amendment rights by not putting up signs of support in an election season on our own property. These people seem to believe they know better than the voters what's best for this town. On many levels, we just can't afford that kind of thinking any more.
SCC June 03, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Jay: "I do not trust Paul's supporters - including those who would keep us from exercising our First Amendment rights by not putting up signs of support in an election season on our own property. " I recommend that you familiarize yourself with both the Constitution and the First Amendment. First Amendment rights can only be violated by the passage of a law (hence the words "Congress shall make no law..."). An informal agreement between candidates not to hand out and organize the placing of official campaign yard signs is in no conceivable way an attempt to keep anyone from exercising their rights. "These people seem to believe they know better than the voters what's best for this town." "These people" ARE voters.
Elmcrest June 03, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Dear SCC: If I want to put a sign for a candidate on my front lawn, I will do so, regardless of what a few poltroons on the Republican Town Committee want to dictate. There was never any "informal agreement between candidates," and Christine Wagner's snippy letter to the Advertiser says as much. I think Jay's comment about "these people" is very clearly directed not to those who might vote for Paul Giusti, but to Paul's inner circle of entrenched politicians (Jeb Walker, most GOP Town Council Members, Christine Wagner, etc.) and their continued efforts to thwart, marginalize or ignore the public on issues ranging from runaway town spending to the micromanagement of political expression.
SCC June 03, 2011 at 07:22 PM
Elmcrest: No one said there was an informal agreement. Jay claimed that the prospect of such an agreement threatened his First Amendment rights. This is an absurd claim and betrays an obvious ignorance of what the First Amendment guarantees. As for "these people", he clearly was referring to "Paul's supporters", who are themselves voters, so it makes no sense to speak of their opinions as being independent of and separate from that of "the voters". And what makes Jay (or you) think that his (or your) opinion on signs (or any other matter) is any more representative of "the voters" or "the public" than those of Walker, Wagner, or anyone else? Just because YOUR wishes may not come to pass should not lead you to conclude that "the public" is being ignored.
Elmcrest June 03, 2011 at 08:14 PM
Dear SCC, YOU said there was an informal agreement. Christine Wagner's letter in the Advertiser shows that no such agreement was ever in place, although the Giusti campaign and the RTC tried to force one. Jay's overall point seems not about petty skirmishes involving yard signs; the larger point seems fairly obvious: Paul is supported by a cabal of those in power who seem more in touch with pushing their pet projects (LRPC, moving the library, building sidewalks into their own neighborhoods, etc.) than in being the representatives they are supposed to be. Case in point: 80% of the Town Council supported the sidewalk plan; given the chance to vote, only about 50% of the voters did. And I urge you to watch how dismissive Dr. DeWaele and Mr. Karl (both avowed Giusti supporters) are of the voters who wanted to speak at the 5/23 "hearing" -- it's a public hearing, Dr. DeWaele choreographed the whole thing, and when the public finally got a chance to speak, he shut them down and said the hour was too late. You can quibble about what is or isn't a First Amendment right, I'm more concerned about the continuing inability of the small group of politicos running town hall to listen to any voices but those bouncing around their own closed rooms.
SCC June 03, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Elm: "YOU said there was an informal agreement. Incorrect. I simply pointed out that an informal agreement of the sort that was proposed (but apparently rejected by Mallozzi) would not have represented a threat to First Amendment rights, as Jay foolishly insisted. "... although the Giusti campaign and the RTC tried to force one." Perhaps you should consult a dictionary or a thesaurus. You have a very odd understanding of the word "force". "Case in point: 80% of the Town Council supported the sidewalk plan; given the chance to vote, only about 50% of the voters did." Actually over 53% of the voters did. Which means, it seems to me, that 80% of the Town Council had better judgement about what a majority of voters wanted than the other 20%. How odd that you condemn the 80% for having judged "the puglic" properly. "And I urge you to watch how dismissive Dr. DeWaele and Mr. Karl (both avowed Giusti supporters) are of the voters who wanted to speak at the 5/23 "hearing" " I watched it. Your characterization of it suggests that you viewed an entirely different meeting than the one I viewed. " I'm more concerned about the continuing inability of the small group of politicos running town hall to listen to any voices but those bouncing around their own closed rooms." Again, it is an error to conflate your voice with "any voice". Just because you aren't getting your way of things does not mean that our representatives are not "listening".
Jon S. June 03, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Hey, SCC, can you get back on topic? I should note, however, that calling everyone who disagrees with you "foolish" and "odd" and in "error" is a typical bullying ploy, marginalizing serious discussion. Despite your assertions, the Town Council is a representative body, designed to give ALL New Canaanites a voice, not just some. Town Hall told us all it was just a "few complaining neighbors" against the sidewalk, but if we took the Town Council's 80/20 vote on sidewalks as truly representative, then the pro-sidewalk side should have won by 2,000 votes, not 200. That should concern everyone, regardless of their opinion on that referendum. It goes to Town Hall's "we know best" attitude noted by Jay, above.
SCC June 03, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Jon: I'm not at all sure why you think I am off topic. I've simply been responding to what other people have said. And if you think that calling foolish claims "foolish" or pointing out errors is "bullying", I suggest that you also consult a dictionary/thesaurus. How very odd. As for Town Hall's "we know best" attitude, it seems that you, like Elmcrest, need to be reminded that your personal views are not necesarily representative of the views of "the people". Just because you didn't get your way on something doesn't mean that our representatives, who BTW were elected precisley in order to render their own best judgement, are ignoring the will of "the people". Again, Jon S's desire should not be conflated with "the voter's" desires.
Jon S. June 03, 2011 at 10:29 PM
Dear SCC, I'm not going to debate you on this any more, since you apparently can't muster up reasons without personal attacks. You call all who disagree with you "absurd" and "ignorant" and "foolish" and "odd" and in "error." You're quick with the belittling, dismissive words, but it still doesn't make your opinion anything but your opinion. By the way, I don't conflate my "desires" with anyone else's. I'm pointing out that there's a vast spectrum of opinions in our town beyond whatever Town Hall and the Advertiser wants us to believe, and I'll vote for any candidate who shows he or she is absurd/ignorant/foolish/odd/erroneous enough to appreciate that. Hope you have a terrific weekend.
SCC June 03, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Jon S: I have engaged in no personal attacks, least of against you. Calling an assertion "foolish" or "absurd" is quite different from attacking a person. And really, if you are so thin skinned that you consider calling something "in error" to be a personal attack or " bullying", you really should avoid comment boards such as this. And let's be honest...if you approved of everything that the Town Council was doing, would you be accusing them of ignoring the people and of maintaining a "we know best" attitude? Of course not. It is only because you disagree with them that you do so. Thus, the only way your accusation has any coherence whatsoever is if you believe that your opinion necessarily reflects that of the public at large. So despite your denial, conflating your opinion with that of the public is precisely what you (and others here) are doing.
Jay June 04, 2011 at 02:45 AM
SCC: Thank you for the suggestion to study the Constitution and the First Amendment. I will take it under advisement. In the meantime, my main points are this: 1) We need town government that is responsible to its citizenry and that means leaders who are genuinely transparent and inclusive beyond the confines of their inner circle 2) We need leaders who do not attack one another but instead take responsibility for their decisions and mistakes and act in good faith to repair civil discourse and restore transparent and fiscally responsible decision-making 3) We need to find creative solutions to revitalize the downtown 4) We need leaders who do not see taxpayers' money as a slush fund for their (and their friends') pet projects 5) We need leadership that supports free speech and advocacy for candidates, even if it's in the form of yard signs Again, I personally like both Mr. Giusti and Mr. Mallozzi - and I admire both of them for stepping up to serve our community - but when I look at who they surround themselves with as political advisors, how they vote, and how they participate in civic discourse, I have to go with Rob for the job.
Jay June 04, 2011 at 02:46 AM
Yes, agree - disconnect the robocalls
Observer June 04, 2011 at 03:01 AM
Hey SCC! Obviously you have been sent to obfuscate and distract from the issues at hand just like DeWaele did in the TC meeting on 5/23. Your guy is “out at the plate” on all his three (3) key issues that he states in his ads and press interviews. I will resubmit my post to “Stepping up to the Plate”: “Mr. Giusti must know that the First Selectman has NO oversight control of Education in New Canaan and yet it is his number one issue in his platform according to the article. His second issue is about preserving the character of the community. He must be FOR the downtown New Canaan re-do because the chair of the Long Range Planning Committee is one of his top campaign people. His third issue is about fiscal responsibility. He willingly voted YES, as a Board of Finance member, on a failed bond issue to put New Canaan in debt for $650,000 knowing full well (watch the video) that most of the amount in question would have been paid back by the state. He is “0 for 3” on his own vital issues for New Canaan if elected. Three issues and coach Giusti is out at the plate.” AND as it pertains to this Article SCC, “Giusti: It was a typo”, which is what this comment section is for, if one thing is for certain, a candidate READS his own bio section on his own Web site. Please, enough of this nonsense. I would expect a good “CEO” or “COO” or whatever he is today to catch that type of mistake and correct it and correct it FAST.
SCC June 04, 2011 at 10:36 AM
Jay, I agree with you about what we "need". But the thing is, we already have it. It is one thing to support a candidate because you think he is more competent, or because he supports policies with which you agree. It is quite another to support a candidate by falsely accusing his opposition, or the government in general, of nefarious and corrupt actions, even if only by implication. There is no "slush fund". There is no "inner circle" cabal. There is no attempt to squash free speech rights. These are all false charges. You want candidates who do not attack one another? I suggest you start at home and stop imputing malignant motives to those with whom you disagree. Read all of the posts above, and indeed all of the posts on any article/letter on The Patch. The attacking is being done almost exclusively by Mallozzi supporters. Why is that, I wonder?
SCC June 04, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Hey Observer! I haven't been "sent" for any reason. And this is an open comments board....the "issue at hand" is pretty much whatever I want to comment on. If that happens to be taking to task others for saying foolish things, then that is "the topic at hand". As for the error on Giusti's website, it is hardly the scandal you and others are trying to make it. If he was really trying to deceive anyone, why would all of his other campaign materials be correct apart from this one instance? It was obviously a simple oversight, immediately corrected when brought to his attention. The desire of Mallozzi supporters to paint it as something else says more about them than it does about Giusti.
Jay June 04, 2011 at 12:53 PM
You think we already have this? You must be one of the inner circle then, because they seem to be the only ones provided critical information at key points in time, authorizing add-ons to construction projects, commissioning endless "studies" w/o no real input from anyone other than your cabal, etc etc. Further, the RTC did ask for an agreement to limit free speech in this caucus season so, unless you don't consider them leaders, yours is the false "charge". Your denial is exactly what I've come to expect from the current inner circle and what needs to be changed as soon as possible. Thank you for making my case so nicely.
Observer June 04, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Apparently its possible to get more than one of the same screenname on patch. There is more than one "Observer" account. Not sure it matters, (especially in anonymous land) but its interesting to know. They seem to be separated electronically, so that if you search for past comments you only get those for the one you're searching for, not both mixed together.
Elmcrest June 04, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Thanks, Roy. Reading the letter in this week's Advertiser, Giusti campaign rep Christine Walker made it sound like everyone agreed to the "sign limitation" except Rob Mallozzi. Your description of the events tells a clearer story. Everyone discussed it, and the proposal was tabled by the RTC.
SCC June 04, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Roy: I would go even further and say that the RTC is, in any event, in no position to squelch free speech, since it cannot make laws. People need to understand that the First Amendment protects them from the government passing laws preventing them from expressing themselves. It does not disallow agreements between private parties (ie candidates) being either proposed or even effected that would limit or restrict the behavior (ie passing out lawn signs) of those private parties.
Jay June 04, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Thank you for the clarification. C. Wagner of the Giusti campaign writes in last week's Advertiser, "our campaign agreed with the Republican Town Committee's efforts to limit the use of yard signs to a specific time immediately before the opportunities to vote." I stand corrected - if the RTC wasn't advocating restrictions of free speech then it appears it is merely the Giusti campaign advocating for that. I will check their opinions in more detail before believing them in the future.
SCC June 04, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Elmcrest: It is strange that you think that Roy's explanation is "clearer" than Wagner's. Why did the issue get tabled by the RTC? Reading Roy's post, we have no idea. Could it be because Mallozzi and his supporters were opposed to any agreement on limiting the use of official campaign lawn signs? Perhaps Roy can tell us exactly why it was tabled in a subsequent post. In any event, you say that Christine Walker (presumably you meant Wagner) made it sound like "everyone" except Mallozzi agreed to limit signs. But there are only two parties involved here...the Giusti campaign and the Mallozzi campaign. Wagner made it plain that Giusti was willing to limit signs. Mallozzi was not. Therefore the lack of an agreement is due only and entirely to Mallozzi.
SCC June 04, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Jay: Again, I suggest you try to educate yourself on the meaning of free speech. A proposal to agree to limit the use of official campaign lawn signs involves absolutely no freedom of speech issues. None. Zero. Zilch. To claim otherwise betrays an ignorance of both the Constitution and the First Amendment.
Jay June 04, 2011 at 05:58 PM
SCC: Interesting - while what you say may be legally true, you are missing the spirit and intent of the entire discussion. C. Wagner of the Giusti campaign states in her letter, "...we understand and agree that being able to place a political sign is a free speech issue..." and many others believe that proposal to limit yard signs was an attempt to discourage freedom of expression. My bottom line point is that I disagree with those who try to keep voters' voices quiet in a time of great importance to the future of our community - whether that attempt is through legal means or campaign agreements. More voices - not fewer - are needed. I am now officially bored with your insulting tone suggesting I educate myself and/or that I'm ignorant. That is unnecessary and I'll have no further discussion w/you on this matter.
SCC June 04, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Roy: (reposted, as someone deleted my previous response) "It is a constitutional issue..." This is incorrect. A proposal suggesting that two candidates for office agree to limit the organized placement of official campaign lawn signs, whether that proposal emanates from the candidates themselves or an organization like the RTC, in no way whatsoever raises constitutional issues. To be clear, it doesn't bother me in the slightest that the RTC "shelved" the issue. That is a perfectly fine decision as far as I am concerned. However, you are quite simply wrong to claim that any constitutional issue would have been involved had it not done so. "It is apparent SCC that your objective is to "bad-mouth" the RTC..." What a bizarre thing to say. I challenge you to cite a single thing that I have said that could sensibly be characterized as "bad-mouthing" the RTC. I have said nothing bad, and have nothing bad to say, about the RTC. I think it does a find job. Again, I challenge you, Roy, to cite a single thing that I have said that bears negatively on the RTC. "If you are not afraid to identify yourself..." Who I am is of no concern to you. My opinions and arguments here stand or fall on their own merits. not based on what my name is.
SCC June 04, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Jay: (reposted, as someone deleted my previous response) "while what you say may be legally true" Free speech and the First Amendment issues are legal issues. I'm not sure how what I say could be false in a non-legal sense. "you are missing the spirit and intent of the entire discussion. " Not in the slightest. I am well aware that the spirit and intent of your claims is to suggest that the Giusti campaign wants to "limit" free speech. And, as I have pointed out, your claim is absurd. An agreement of the sort that Wagner spoke of involves no free speech issues whatsoever...as you have admitted above when you acknowledge that what I say is "legall" true. "many others believe that proposal to limit yard signs was an attempt to discourage freedom of expression." Many people believe a lot of things that just aren't so. "My bottom line point is that I disagree with those who try to keep voters' voices quiet in a time of great importance to the future of our community" I do too. I am unaware of anyone trying to do so. (Except, perhaps, whoever it is that is deleting my posts here!) "I am now officially bored with your insulting tone..." Funny. Others here smear our public servants as "dishonest", call them a "cabal", and impute nefarious motives onto them, but you think MY tone is insulting? Wow. I guess there is just no accounting for what some people think sometimes.
rough1 June 05, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Just curious, but do others have the problem of their Patch posts disappearing for no apparent reason?
Alan Breslow June 05, 2011 at 08:14 PM
To Rough1 My first post on this thread disappeared as well and the post asking why also disappeared. Hopefully someone is minding the store to investigate and solve the issue.
SCC June 06, 2011 at 12:22 AM
rough1: Yes indeed. I had several posts disappear, although they re-appeared later.
John Sheffield June 07, 2011 at 03:23 AM
This "typo" as he calls it is but one of many misleading statements. One mistake is a typo, but several shows a distinctive pattern to embellish oneself. Everyone in this town is busy, but even 10-15 mins spent peeling back the onion on this candidate's claims presents an entirely different perspective. Again, trust and character should be on everyone's mind when it comes time to vote.
John Sheffield July 14, 2011 at 02:50 PM
in response to SCC/Scott's question....please see the picture above with the screenshot of the website showing the information in question. Looking today at the website, the COO title is changed (long ago) and now the sales and employee figures (the topic of the exchange with SCC) are now gone entirely. Guess they got tired of the argument, as I have I. That's fine...no big deal. Just answers SCC's statement that it was never there.

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