Connecticut state Sen. Alex Kasser resigns, blames bitter divorce battle waged by Morgan Stanley executive husband


Connecticut state Sen. Alex Kasser announced Tuesday she is resigning, saying her capability to do her job has been harmed by a bitter divorce battle being waged by her husband, Seth Bergstein, a prime Morgan Stanley executive.

In her resignation statement posted on Medium, the Democrat from Greenwich wrote: “Seth uses his powerful position at Morgan Stanley to enable his conduct, so I must work even harder to fight for my freedom.”

The beautiful transfer comes two years after Kasser went public together with her romantic relationship with a lady who had beforehand run her first Senate marketing campaign after which briefly labored in her legislative workplace. Kasser advised her husband greater than a decade in the past advised she is a lesbian, in accordance with an op-ed she wrote in The Stamford Advocate newspaper final fall.

Kasser, 54, charged on Tuesday that Bergstein “has tried to destroy” that same-sex companion, Nichola Samponaro, “with lies about our relationship and harassing court motions that mention her 56 times for no relevant reason — she had nothing to do with ending my marriage.”

“I will not stay silent as a homophobic, entitled man attacks my partner,” Kasser stated.

Bergstein, 55, is a senior managing director and head of world providers at Morgan Stanley.

Kasser, who advised CNBC she now not has contact together with her three youngsters with Bergstein, additionally wrote, “In addition, I can no longer live or work in Greenwich as it is loaded with memories of the 20 years I spent raising my children here.”

“It is too painful to be in Greenwich now that I’ve been erased from their lives, just as their father promised would happen if I ever left him,” Kasser wrote.

Kasser’s shock resignation came a month after CNBC revealed that she added to her litigation team New York attorney Robert Cohen, who represents Melinda Gates in her megabillion-dollar break up from Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Cohen additionally beforehand represented Ivana Trump and Marla Maples, the primary and second wives of ex-President Donald Trump.

The senator’s announcement additionally comes as she prepares for her divorce trial, set to start in August in Stamford Superior Court, the place Cohen and her different legal professionals have sought to depose three Morgan Stanley workers over what they’ve urged have been improper efforts by the funding financial institution to acquire private monetary data from her.

“It is with deep sadness that I announce my resignation as State Senator. Serving the residents of Connecticut’s 36th Senate district has been a profound honor and a great joy. However, due to personal circumstances, I cannot continue,” Kasser wrote within the assertion.

“For nearly three years, I’ve been trying to divorce Seth Bergstein. As all survivors of domestic abuse know, emancipating ourselves is an epic struggle that takes years, requires unflinching courage and all our resources — mental, physical, and financial,” she wrote.

“Because of the enormous time and energy this consumes, I can no longer serve my constituents to my fullest ability.”

CNBC has reached out to Bergstein and Morgan Stanley for touch upon Kasser’s assertion.

Kasser made a splash in 2018 when she grew to become the primary Democrat in practically 90 years to win the thirty sixth District Senate seat, which incorporates Greenwich and components of Stamford and New Canaan.

Her slender victory helped Democrats finish two years of splitting management of the state Senate with Republicans.

Last November, she doubled her margin of victory to 2.6% to win reelection to a different two-year time period. Kasser stated a particular election would decide her successor.

Democrats at the moment maintain a strong majority of 24 seats within the Senate, with Republicans holding simply 12 seats.

In an interview with CNBC, Kasser stated her divorce case “has become such a dominant feature in my life that I can’t do my job. It prohibits me from doing my job.”

Asked why she had gone into such element in her assertion concerning the purpose for her leaving workplace, Kasser stated, “First of all, I have a duty to my constituents and to the public to explain my resignation.”

“And I’m fighting not just for myself, but for everybody in this situation, and to use my voice and whatever I can bring to the table.”

“I am truly sad. I am truly disappointed” about having to resign, she stated.

But, Kasser added, “This is not just me. There are literally thousands of women in similar situations. This is not a unique case.”

Kasser declined to offer particular examples of Bergstein’s conduct towards her, citing the recommendation of her legal professionals.

Those now embrace Lanny Davis, the Washington legal professional who was particular counsel to then-President Bill Clinton.

In her op-ed last October, Kasser wrote, “Ten years ago I told my husband I was gay and asked for a divorce.” She wrote that Bergstein didn’t settle for the information, however as a substitute “said if I divorced him, he’d take full custody of our kids and use my sexuality against me in court.”

“His words paralyzed me, which is exactly the power of coercive control,” Kasser wrote. “We do not ‘choose’ to stay. We think we have no choice. I stayed for eight more years.”

In her resignation announcement, Kasser stated she was “particularly proud” of introducing and profitable passage of “Jennifer’s Law,” which expanded Connecticut’s authorized definition of home violence to incorporate coercive management by a companion.

Coercive management is outlined as a partner doing things that include withholding money or engaging in a threatening pattern of behavior to prevent the other partner from leaving the relationship.

Jennifer’s Law is known as after one in every of Kasser’s constituents, Jennifer Dulos, a mom of 5 who’s presumed to have been killed by her estranged husband, actual property developer Fotis Dulos.

Jennifer Dulos, whose physique had by no means been discovered, was in the middle of a protracted divorce and child custody battle when she vanished in May 2019. Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 whereas going through homicide and kidnapping fees in her dying.

Kasser’s assertion stated Jennifer’s Law will assist people who find themselves “trapped in an abusive situation, as I was.”

In her interview, Kasser stated that instances of coercive management can contain “financial pressure, pressure to give up their financial control to their partner, or they’re cut off from their own money.”

“They’re threatened that they or their children or someone they love will be harmed,” she stated, “And, poisoning children against the other parent.”

Kasser stated that in her personal case, she has not had contact together with her youngsters for a while.

“No, they’ve been erased from my life,” she stated, with out offering particulars of how that occurred. Kasser has two sons, ages 23 and 20, and a 17-year-old daughter with Bergstein.

Kasser additionally stated that coercive management can contain “litigation harassment” in divorce instances, corresponding to “filing motions with false allegations and innuendo to destroy a person’s reputation, spread lies about them and to intimidate them and force them to spend money on lawyers.”

“To get somebody to surrender and break them,” Kasser stated.

Her personal divorce has dragged on for greater than 2½ years and concerned greater than 270 authorized filings.

“Abusers don’t just go after their victims,” Kasser stated. “They go after everyone their victim cares about.”

She stated Bergstein has subpoenaed her companion Samponaro, and “he deposed her” within the divorce, forcing her to rent an legal professional.

Kasser says she and Samponaro — an actual property saleswoman who served as her 2018 marketing campaign supervisor and later briefly as an assistant in her Senate workplace — grew to become romantically concerned solely after she sued Bergstein for divorce in late 2018 and after Samponaro left her job in Kasser’s workplace.

“I want to be very clear, we did not have an affair, and to be very clear, Nichola did not have anything to do with the breakdown of my marriage,” Kasser stated.

In 2019, CNBC revealed that court filings in the divorce included an email in which Bergstein supplied to commit $222,000 “from Morgan Stanley earnings for the next 2 years” to pay her private {and professional} finances. The provide got here earlier than Kasser break up with him.

Some of that cash, Bergstein wrote, might be used to pay for Samponaro’s wage and that of one other legislative aide.

Bergstein urged funneling the cash by means of a non-public firm that at one level was owned by Kasser’s mom, or by means of a restricted legal responsibility company, and stated there must be restrictions in what the cash was used for.

Bergstein’s matrimonial lawyer, Janet Battey, advised CNBC on the time that the courtroom submitting by Kasser’s lawyer cited “out of context” quotes from the e-mail and stated his want to keep away from making a battle with Morgan Stanley’s compliance guidelines led him to stipulate restrictions for the usage of his cash by his spouse to assist her as senator.

Bergstein by no means paid the cash, which grew to become a problem within the couple’s divorce case.

Kasser stated her divorce has had an impact on her job as senator in selling the passage of Jennifer’s Law.

“My motives have been impugned and my personal situation is always brought up again,” Kasser stated.

“When I passed Jennifer’s Law, someone in the legislature accused me of [writing the law to make] it effective immediately to help my own case,” she noted.

Kasser choked up when requested what she would miss about being a senator.

“I will miss everything about it,” she stated. “I will miss my colleagues. I will miss the incredible camaraderie and conversations we had …[about] how to bring our personal experiences and expertise to an endless array of issues that we wanted to address.”

“It truly is a life-changing experience, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Kasser stated, including that being a senator gave her “the most professional joy that I’ve ever experienced.”

Kasser, a University of Chicago Law School graduate who beforehand labored as an legal professional for the white-shoe agency Skadden Arps, stated she had no concept what she is going to do professionally after leaving the Senate.

“I have to focus all of my time and attention to this divorce,” she stated. “I can’t make any personal or professional plans until I’m free.”

“My immediate plan is to resolve this divorce as quickly as possible.”

But her resignation announcement refers broadly to her future intentions.

“Going forward, I will continue to fight against bullying and bigotry in all its forms,” Kasser wrote. “Now that I’ve found my voice, I will never stop using it.”


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