Opinion: Fiorello is the most extreme of the most extreme

State Rep. Kimberly Fiorello, R-Greenwich, speaks during the Rally for Ukraine outside Town Hall in Greenwich in March.

State Rep. Kimberly Fiorello, R-Greenwich, speaks during the Rally for Ukraine outside Town Hall in Greenwich in March.

Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media

In her fawning profile last year of freshman Republican state Rep. Kimberly Fiorello (Dist. 149, Greenwich, Stamford), the Hartford Courant’s Daniela Altimari anointed Fiorello a “rising luminary” of the Connecticut GOP. One year on, Fiorello’s extremism and bizarre utterances have shocked and outraged many voters in her district, and spurred a powerful movement to oust her from office.

Put bluntly, Kimberly Fiorello is the Marjorie Taylor Greene of Connecticut: the most extreme of the most extreme. Fiorello, who serves on the Legislature’s Education Committee, has just been rated by the Connecticut Education Association as Connecticut’s worst state representative based on her voting record on education legislation. Ironically, given her seat on the education committee, Fiorello does not send her four school-aged children to her hometown Greenwich’s highly regarded public schools. Not having children in the school system, however, hasn’t stopped Fiorello from appearing at Greenwich Board of Education meetings where she harangues and threatens board members, demanding they eliminate mask and vaccine mandates, while accusing them of teaching “Critical Race Theory.” Fiorello was recently revealed to be a member of  the far-right extremist Facebook group, “No Left Turn In Education,” whose founder spews anti-LGBTQ hate rhetoric, such as telling people to go “back to Trans-sylvania,” and claims that “Black bigotry towards whites” is a “very real problem.” 

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) recently named Fiorello to its “Failing Grades” list of the 10 state legislators with the worst environmental voting records. Not only did Fiorello vote against Connecticut’s Clean Air Act (SB 4), which LCV called “a landmark air quality initiative to reduce pollution from transportation with a strong focus on equity and environmental justice,” Fiorello, a climate change-denier, voted against HB 5285, which requires climate change to be taught as part of Connecticut’s science curriculum, and voted “no” on legislation encouraging solar energy production (SB 176). 

During the Greenwich League of Women Voters debate in 2020 when asked her views on reproductive rights, Fiorello dodged the question, responding, “I don’t understand why this question is being asked.” She’s revealed herself to be an anti-abortion extremist, who praised the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, leaving abortion access to individual states. Fiorello opposes Connecticut’s state abortion law, which codified Roe, claiming that abortion should only be permitted “early” in a pregnancy. This session, Fiorello voted against legislation (HB 5414) to protect women coming to Connecticut for abortions from prosecution in their home states, and Connecticut health care providers who assist them. The bill was proposed in response to Texas’ abortion ban that permits vigilantes to report to authorities for prosecution women seeking abortions, as well as anyone who assists them.

Fiorello’s extremist record on civil rights and race includes ugly votes and shocking statements. A virulent opponent of Fair Housing legislation, she once declared, “Housing is not a right, because housing is built by other people. It’s a want ... You don’t have a right to other people’s labor.”  In fact, the United Nations decades ago named housing a human right.

Fiorello’s ugly extremism was on full display during the Legislature’s discussion of a bill establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday. Juneteenth, referring to June 19, 1865, has long been celebrated by African-Americans as the day that slavery finally came to an end. But when Fiorello spoke on the bill, she first attempted to whitewash the holiday, repeatedly claiming it was about “all Americans,” rather than a celebration of the liberation of African-Americans. She then claimed that the Constitution’s “3/5th”s compromise,” which counted Black slaves as three-fifths of a human being, “was a compromise in favor towards freedom!” She continued, “The slaveholding states actually recognized what they claimed to be things that they owned. Suddenly they wanted to count them as full human beings ... They count as full human beings.” Fiorello’s remarks outraged legislators, moving African-American state Rep. Toni Walker and other Black leaders to denounce Fiorello’s remarks. When Walker began expressing her outrage at Fiorello’s words, every Democratic representative stood up and gathered in an arc at the back of the House chamber, where they stood shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with their Black colleagues, and dramatic remonstrance against Fiorello. Fiorello sat alone at her desk.  

Outrage at Fiorello’s extremism has galvanized an army of volunteers in her district to support her Democratic opponent, Rachel Khanna. Khanna has already been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, Connecticut Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Independent Party, and the Sierra Club, 

If Fiorello is a “rising luminary” in the GOP, she’s certainly not acting like it. Fiorello pulled out of the traditional televised League of Women Voters debate, where she would have to explain her extremist record to voters in a town characterized by moderation.  

One year on, this “rising luminary” faces the very real prospect of being tossed from office.

Sean Goldrick retired from a career investing in international equities. He also served four years on the Greenwich finance board, the Board of Estimate and Taxation.