“Embattled” is a word you do not want waltzing around with your name on the eve of a U.S. Congressional election. “Embattled 5th District Congress candidate Chris Donovan,” the Register Citizen reported, “in a taping of WFSB TV’s ‘Face the State’ Thursday, said he has no plans to quit the race even if his campaign’s troubles start to adversely affect other Democrats and party leaders urge him to leave.
Mr. Donovan is under scrutiny by the FBI for campaign financing irregularities. His campaign finance director, Robert Braddock, is under arrest for having conspired to hide the identity of certain donors allegedly involved in influence peddling; and other Donovan connected officials, two of whom are directly connected with his U.S. Senate campaign, have been named in an affidavit supporting the arrest of Mr. Braddock.
Thanks to some impressive digging and nagging by manyreporters, the influence peddlers –tagged anonymously in the affidavit as CC1, CC2 and CC3 -- have now been identified as: Ray Soucy, a labor union activist and a vigorous supporter of Mr. Donovan lately suspended from his position as a correction industries supervisor at Cheshire state prison (CC1); a former “roll your own” smoke shop worker in Waterbury (CC2); and Joshua Nassi, Mr. Donovan’s fired campaign manager (CC3).
As the story unfolded, an uppity Governor Dannell Malloy, who has managed to shove his finger in many political and judicial pies, at first called upon Mr. Dovovan to make himself available to Connecticut’s media for questioning, demanding in rather stern tones that Mr. Donovan give “a full explanation of what he knows." Eventually, the governor calmed down.
Mr. Donovan and all the co-conspirators promptly lawyered-up. Stan Twardy, best known for his service in the administration of former Governor Lowell Weicker, the father of Connecticut’s income tax, was hauled in to conduct an in-house examination of the tangled web in the House Speaker’s office. Mr. Donovan hired a criminal lawyer, who advised her client that he was to respond to every media inquiry concerning the FBI investigation by saying he did not intend to comment on such matters, except to say, as he did repeatedly during the interview with Mr. House, that he was innocent of wrongdoing.
Apparently content that Mr. Donovan had done everything possible to satisfy the curiosity of Connecticut’s media – the same persistent interrogators who had forced the resignation from office of former Republican state Senate leader Lou DeLuca in a previous FBI sting operation-- Mr. Malloy, once an empathetic prosecutor, took a nap, convinced that Mr. Donovan had sufficiently teffloned himself. If Mr. Donovan were to excite among senators and the media the same sense of outrage that nudged Mr. DeLuca from office, the General Assembly would be burbling at this moment with whispers of hearings and impeachment.
"He's met the test of dismissing the individuals,” the governor said of Mr. Donovan.“He has said he had no prior knowledge. He's come forward to speak to the public," Malloy said. "I think the rest of it is up to the speaker and the public” … And Mr. House, who found himself face to face on Face the State with a political armadillo.
When Mr. House noted that neither the governor nor U.S. Representative Chris Murphy, whose seat Mr. Donovan hoped to commandeer, had endorsed him, the Speaker replied that Mr. Malloy was drawn to his Democratic primary opponent Elizabeth Esty, whose husband Daniel is Mr. Malloy’s Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and then he tossed Harry Truman at Mr. House: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
Off in the distance, Leo Canty, one of the best know union operatives in the state, could be heard chanting, “There’s always people and events that will trip you up. This is just a slight trip in this race. … This is a hiccup and a glitch.” At an earlier union rally in Hartford, Mr. Donovan invoked the shade of Franklin Roosevelt.
“’I have my head held high. No one bought my involvement or my influence on any legislation, period,’ the embattled Speaker said. Touching on the controversy only in passing, Mr. Donovan said he wanted to talk about “fairness, dignity, respect. You take the first letter of each of them and what you get?-- ‘FDR.’”
Mr. Donovan boasted to Mr. House that he would win his primary against his two Democratic opponents, neither of whom is under investigation for possible influence peddling. When Mr. House gently prodded the Speaker, asking what would happen to his best laid plans should he be arrested, Mr. Donovan, according to Mr. House, “bristled.”