Monday, July 16, 2012

The Jaws That Bite, the Claws That Snatch


Dan Roberti, a Democrat running for the U.S House in Connecticut’s 5th District has called upon Democratic Party nominee Chris Donovan to quit the race.

"It is time for Chris Donovan to withdraw from the primary race for the good of the Connecticut Democratic Party and to protect the seat,” Mr. Roberti said following an indictment returned by a Grand Jury of Mr. Donovan’s former campaign director Robert Braddock. “He has hidden behind lawyers and never stepped up to explain how members of his campaign staff could have arranged conduit contributions without his knowledge."

Following Mr. Roberti’s invitation to withdraw, Donovan campaign manager Tom Swan declared that Mr. Donovan remains, even after damning disclosures, the strongest Democrat in the race.

Mr. Donovan was nominated at the Democratic convention for the 5th District seat now occupied by U.S. Representative Chris Murphy, the Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated when present Senator Joe Lieberman leaves office.

"We have a clear path to victory in August and November," Mr. Swan said.
Formerly a union organizer, Mr. Donovan has received the backing of union groups in the state that also have announced their formal support of Mr. Murphy’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Donovan was nominated by his party when the campaign financing scandal was a tiny cloud no bigger than a finger tip on the political horizon. Following the nomination, the cloud has grown to menacing proportions and now threatens to blot out the shining Democratic campaign sun. Since Dannel Malloy was wafted into office on a promise of shared sacrifice, Connecticut has become, for all practical political purposes, a one party state, and there is little doubt among campaign watchers and too clever by half Democratic Party operatives that voter inertia and political force majeure exerted by office holding Democrats will largely determine the outcome of the upcoming elections.

The published indictment of Mr. Braddock does not help Mr. Donovan’s campaign. In both an earlier affidavit and now in the indictment, Mr. Braddock has been accused of conspiring to accept conduit campaign contributions, illegal donations falsely made by one person in the name of another.
It is, however, the disquieting details included both in the affidavit supporting Mr. Braddock’s arrest and the recently released Grand Jury indictment that should cause Democrats in the state to contemplate getting together a delegation of politicos that might convince Mr. Donovan to take a bullet for his party.

According to the Braddock indictment, the roll your own scandal was a spin off investigation of an earlier federal probe concerning “the way federal money has been spent to remove lead paint from the homes of low-income families.” Federal investigators had discovered that one of the people who had signed an illegal conduit check for the Donovan campaign was connected with a business under investigation in the lead paint removal program. In investigations of this kind, one thing leads to another, and soon the best laid plans of mice and men are torn asunder.

The scorpion’s stings in the conduit campaign contribution scandal remain hidden. Mr. Braddock’s indictment, according to one report, suggest more shoes are to drop, “including the possibility that the FBI arranged to have union activist Ray Soucy wear a wire to record a conversation with Donovan at the Democratic State Convention about accepting illegal contributions in exchange for killing a piece of legislation related to ‘roll your own’ tobacco shops.”
Mr. Soucy – like Mr. Donovan before his election to the House, a good portion of which has been spent as a Speaker steering bills through the legislative sausage maker– was a union operative before he was caught up in the FBI investigation centering on members of Mr. Donavan’s campaign staff. It was Mr. Soucy – co-conspirator 1 (CC1) in the affidavit that secured his arrest – who coached two roll your own store owners under investigation for a meeting with Mr. Donovan by cautioning them not to mention pending bills relating to roll you own shops in Connecticut. Eyes and ears were everywhere, Mr. Soucy advised: “… there is always people following this guy around, watching what he's doing …" During their meeting inside a restaurant, the tobacco owners, Mr. Donovan’s arrested former finance director and Mr. Donovan discussed “various issues relating to the roll your own industry in Connecticut," according to the Grand Jury indictment.
Was Mr. Soucy, already deeply implicated in the scandal, wired during conversations he might have had with Donovan? Were other co-conspirators wired when they conspired with Mr. Soucy? Is Mr. Soucy, under threat of prosecution, the only singing canary serenading prosecutors? Where are the scorpion stingers? What does the FBI know, and when did it know it?

Barring leaks from behind the thus far leak-proof barricades, answers to these questions may not be forthcoming before the election. Until such questions can be answered with some degree of certitude, those within the Democratic Party who owe Mr. Donovan their silence and a studied indifference to possible political repercussions will consider themselves safe from provocative criticism.

And later?

Later is for later. In a free country, professional politicians who winked at the damaging data in both the affidavit securing the arrest of Mr. Braddock and the Grand Jury indictment can always plead ignorance. And in the bluest state in the Northeast, the penalties assigned for willful ignorance are mild and survivable.     
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