Donovan to tell press he is not quitting race

House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, intends to announce tonight that he will continue as a candidate for Congress in the wake of an FBI sting that led to the arrest of his campaign fundraiser and the firing of his campaign manager last week.

Donovan says he “will be available to make a statement” outside his campaign headquarters in Meriden, his first significant public comments since his campaign was upended Thursday by the news of the arrest of Robert Braddock Jr. on charges of concealing the source of campaign donations.

His new campaign manager, Tom Swan, declined to say if Donovan would take questions tonight, but he answered one key question: Asked if Donovan would announce the suspension or end of his campaign, Swan replied, “No.”

Swan held a press conference Friday to say Donovan has done nothing wrong, but he would temporarily relinquinish key duties as the leader of the state House during its special session June 12. The campaign also hired former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy to conduct an internal investigation.

Other than briefly speaking to a handful of reporters Thursday night at an awards event, Donovan has made no extensive comments about the arrest of Braddock and the firing of two others: Josh Nassi, who was campaign manager; and Sara Waterfall, who was Braddock’s deputy.

Braddock is accused of conspiring to hide the source of $20,000 in contributions from a man who claimed to be an investor interested in killing legislation that would have imposed taxes and fees on the roll-your-own cigarette business in Connecticut.

According to his arrest affidavit, the investor actually was an undercover FBI agent.

The U.S. attorney’s office has not explained what led federal authorities to offer illegal contributions to Donovan’s campaign for the open seat in the 5th Congressional District, nor have they commented on whether a similar attempt was made with donations to state House Republican political action committees.

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, said he had returned five $1,000 checks that he suspects were made with FBI sting money. He told The Mirror in a story published Friday night that the FBI told him that some of the sting money may have been contributed to the PACs.

Political sources point to one common denominator in the contributions to Donovan and the state House GOP: A politically active correction officer, Ray Soucy, who resigned from two union posts and was removed from one other after The Courant and The Mirror published stories about his role.