GOP senate leader calls on Donovan to step down

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, called on House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, to relinquish his leadership post Friday in the wake of the arrest of Donovan’s congressional fundraiser.

The legislature should convene a committee of inquiry to determine if Donovan has done anything to warrant censure or expulsion, McKinney said.

McKinney said the allegations that Donovan’s fundraiser concealed the identity of a donor who wanted to kill tax legislation raise questions about every action taken by Donovan on legislation since becoming a candidate for Congress.

“The facts and allegations in the affidavit are a grave violation of the public trust and cast a pall on all of the legislative activities Speaker Donovan has participated in since announcing his run for Congress,” McKinney said. Donovan is seeking the 5th Congressional District seat.

If nothing else, McKinney’s call will add pressure on Donovan to publicly respond to the arrest of his fundraiser, Robert Braddock Jr., and his subsequent firing of Braddock and Josh Nassi, who was Donovan’s campaign manager.

The speaker’s legislative spokesman, Doug Whiting, had no immediate comment on McKinney’s statement. Donovan’s campaign has scheduled a press conference for 3 p.m.

Donovan is not implicated in the limited evidence made public by the U.S. attorney’s office in connection with Braddock’s arrest.

In excerpts of recorded conversations with Braddock, the fundraiser said nothing to indicate that Donovan was aware of the effort to conceal the source of $20,000 in contributions or if he did anything on the donor’s behalf.

“First and foremost, the Speaker owes the people of Connecticut a thorough explanation.  He must publicly answer any and all questions pertaining to this matter,” McKinney said in an emailed statement.

On that count, McKinney’s comment was similar to a statement issued by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday.

Donovan is preparing for what is expected to be his last session as speaker: a June 12 special session to act on budget implementer bills.

“In light of this damning evidence of corruption, he should immediately relinquish his role as Speaker of the House and have no involvement with drafting or negotiating any legislative language in preparation for the General Assembly’s June 12th Special Session,” McKinney said.

McKinney called for Donovan to step down without consulting with House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, who was unaware of the statement until contacted by a reporter.

“I think it’s premature,” Cafero said.

But Cafero joined McKinney, Malloy and others in pressing for Donovan to publicly answer questions.

“There’s been some serious allegations here,” Cafero said. “I know Chris has respect for the institution. He needs to clarify and answer some questions.”