How Hearst Connecticut reporter Kaitlyn Krasselt holds public officials accountable

By Cami­la Valle­jo, UConn Journalism
Octo­ber 19, 2018

Meet Kait­lyn Kras­selt, a mul­ti-tal­ent­ed reporter for Hearst Con­necti­cut Media, an Ida­ho native and a triv­ia night host. Kras­selt was recent­ly pro­mot­ed to cov­er the guber­na­to­r­i­al race as a polit­i­cal reporter after three and a half years at Hearst. Over­all, Kras­selt’s work revolves around hold­ing pub­lic offi­cials accountable.

Kras­selt notably held one for­mer Repub­li­can can­di­date for gov­er­nor account­able when she dis­cov­ered sev­er­al dis­crep­an­cies in what Peter Lumaj was spout­ing dur­ing his cam­paign. Her curios­i­ty was sparked when Lumaj said he was a crim­i­nal immi­gra­tion lawyer. Her research led her to dis­cov­er that Lumaj had nev­er actu­al­ly tried a crim­i­nal case and was only allowed to prac­tice a lim­it­ed amount of immi­gra­tion law.

Kras­selt’s exten­sive inves­ti­ga­tion took her to the Bronx to see Lumaj’s law firm in per­son. Her vis­it includ­ed a pesky park­ing tick­et and the dis­cov­ery that his non­de­script office is often closed despite his claims to hav­ing mul­ti­ple employ­ees. Lumaj tried to dis­cred­it Krasselt’s sto­ry after pub­li­ca­tion, claim­ing dur­ing a press con­fer­ence that he was a vic­tim of char­ac­ter assas­si­na­tion, but he had no evi­dence to refute her sol­id reporting.

Ulti­mate­ly, Lumaj didn’t get enough votes to appear on the bal­lot and announced he would donate his $50,000 of sur­plus cam­paign funds to a group called Alban­ian Con­nect Inc. How­ev­er, more report­ing by Kras­selt found that this so-called char­i­ty had the same address as his Bronx law firm and had been denied tax-exempt sta­tus by the IRS. Accord­ing to Con­necti­cut law, sur­plus cam­paign funds can only be donat­ed to IRS approved or vet­er­an charities.

He is some­one that I first saw on the debate stage and thought there was some­thing there, some­thing inter­est­ing,” Kras­selt said. “At the time I didn’t know if it was some­thing that was going to be real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing or what it turned out to be, which was a lot of what he was say­ing was false or exaggerated.”

Aside from expos­ing the truth when we need it the most, Kras­selt also hosts a Pints and Pol­i­tics triv­ia night at a local bar in Stam­ford, an event that began in Sep­tem­ber. The bar and Hearst Con­necti­cut Media teamed up to engage the com­mu­ni­ty and spark a get-out-the-vote initiative.

We’ve had great turnout and it’s a blast. I per­son­al­ly love triv­ia and we draw a lot of the polit­i­cal ques­tions from our dai­ly newslet­ter, CTPol­i­tics, which I write,” Kras­selt said.

Kras­selt states that being young woman in jour­nal­ism can be chal­leng­ing at times. Often she walks into a room of jour­nal­ists or sources and she is the youngest reporter in the room, or the only woman. Peo­ple will def­i­nite­ly respond to you dif­fer­ent­ly, she explained, but it’s a real­i­ty you get used to. She advis­es aspir­ing jour­nal­ists to get in as much report­ing prac­tice as pos­si­ble, before fac­ing the real world.

Top pho­to: Kait­lyn Kras­selt is a Hearst Con­necti­cut polit­i­cal reporter and triv­ia night host. Pho­to cour­tesy of Hearst CT