One of House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan’s two Democratic rivals in the party primary for the 5th Congressional District, Dan Roberti, toughened his stance Friday on the scandal plaguing the state House speaker’s campaign.
One day after issuing a very cautious statement professing that “our campaign does not wish to inflame any issues surrounding the investigation,” Roberti offered much stronger language.
If the allegations against Donovan’s former campaign financial director are true, “it is one of the most reprehensible things that can happen in a campaign,” Roberti said. “… This is the type of politics I am running against.”
Robert Braddock Jr., who handled finances for Donovan’s campaign, was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents and charged with illegally concealing the source of two $10,000 contributions for his campaign.
Donovan fired Braddock, as well as campaign manager, Josh Nassi, and hired Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group to take over his campaign.
Braddock, 33, of Meriden, was arrested on a criminal complaint that says he conspired with others to hide contributions from a person who wanted to kill a tobacco tax bill before the General Assembly. Nassi was not charged, but an unnamed campaign aide was implicated by the authorities.
The money came from an interest opposed to a proposal to tax roll-your-own cigarettes, according to an affidavit on file in U.S. District Court. The tax bill never came to a vote.
Roberti, who held a press conference outside of The Bushnell in Hartford — immediately after Swan finished addressing reporters roughly 100 yards away — said the speaker fell short in several ways Friday.
Donovan should address the media and the public immediately, Roberti said, adding that is Democratic rival ultimately must apologize on behalf of his staff and be prepared to accept some degree of responsibility, regardless of what he knew about the alleged illegal activity.
“Please come face the press, come face the public and just let us know what you knew and when you knew it,” Roberti said, adding that “if he had no knowledge of it, there’s no reason not to come out and address it.”
And if Donovan had any knowledge of the activity before charges were filed against his former campaign financial director, “he should step down and should strongly reconsider running for Congress.”
Besides recusing himself from legislative negotiations tied to this month’s special session, and from overseeing House debate on the dais, Donovan also should forfeit his vote, Roberti added, effectively relinquishing his office entirely until the matter is resolved.
“Let (House Majority Leader) Brendan Sharkey take over entirely in this role,” he said.