Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Devil And Stan Twardy

The Devil, it is sometimes said, lies in the details.

The Devil did not show his hand in the Twardy investigation of Speaker of the House Chris Donovan’s tawdry campaign for the U.S. House in Connecticut’s 5th District.

Mr. Donovan’s former finance director was arrested by the FBI in a sting operation in which straw contributors, the FBI showed in an arrest affidavit, violated campaign finance regulations. FBI investigators almost certainly are squeezing some of the principals involved in Speakergate to obtain from them information their lawyers have denied to Mr. Twardy. 

Virtually all Mr. Donovan’s Republican campaign opponents have said Mr. Donovan either did or did not know that his finance director, Robert Braddock, was, to put it kindly, delinquent in avoiding the near occasion of arrest. If Mr. Donovan knew about the financing irregularities that led to Mr. Braddock’s arrest, he was participating in corrupt activity; and if he did not know, he is not competent, most of his rivals say, to become a U.S. Representative. Mr. Donovan’s Democratic primary opponent, Dan Roberti, has similarly spanked Mr. Donovan.

There is no painless way to escape the perilous jaws of this Either-Or. Former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy's report on Mr. Donovan’s connection with his office is depressingly uninformative.

Mr. Twardy – sidestepping Will Rogers’ apothegm: “It’s not what you know that can hurt you; it’s what you do know that ain’t so” – has presented Connecticut with a partial investigation. Many of the principals caught up in the FBI investigation refused on advice of council to be interviewed by Mr. Twardy, according to a Hartford Courant story. Any exculpatory conclusion drawn from unexamined facts is bound to be provisional.

The FBI’s investigation of Mr. Donovan’s political operations is certain to be more thorough. Even now, agents of the FBI or the State’s Attorney charged with prosecuting the case are squeezing principals whose lawyers have declined to speak to Mr. Twardy.

Mr. Donovan’s Republican opponent Mark Greenberg , who earlier called upon Mr. Donovan to drop his campaign and resign his Speaker position, issued a statement following Mr. Twardy’s media release that seems pertinent:

 “By Mr. Twardy’s own admission, his report is incomplete and it leaves many questions unanswered. Much of the important relevant information was not forthcoming, and the investigation was hampered by the inability of Mr. Twardy to interview or receive documents from the principles in this scandal. People who commit crimes are not often reckless enough to leave a paper or email trail – the absence of such documentation is not surprising and accordingly, the “independent” investigation is certainly not conclusive. Unfortunately, the cloud of this campaign finance scandal will continue to hang over Donovan’s campaign until the federal investigation is concluded.

“Once again, I call on Chris Donovan to suspend his campaign for Congress. Nothing in the internal investigation diminishes the fact that the Speaker either knew or should have known of the illegal activity in his campaign. Whether it is a gross violation of the public trust or gross mismanagement, Chris Donovan is not an individual who should represent Connecticut in the United States Congress.”

The Donovan crisis is still unfolding.

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