Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday that House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, probably has responded to the fullest extent possible to a federal investigation of his congressional campaign by firing staff under suspicion and addressing the public.
“He’s met the test of dismissing the individuals. He has said he had no prior knowledge. He’s come forward to speak to the public,” Malloy said. “I think the rest of it is up to the speaker and the public.”
Last week Malloy took a harsher stance, demanding that Donovan give “a full explanation of what he knows.” But Malloy said Monday he found credible Donovan’s assertion Sunday that federal authorities have asked him not to discuss the case in detail.
“That’s not unusual in an investigation at this stage,” said Malloy, a former prosecutor in New York. “It may make his life a little more difficult at this stage to honor that request.”
In a press conference Sunday night, Donovan denied any wrongdoing, but declined to say anything about the investigation that was not already public through details released by the U.S. attorney’s office.
Donovan denied any wrongdoing or prior knowledge of an alleged scheme by his finance director to accept $20,000 in contributions from someone who wanted the legislature to reject a bill to tax roll-your-own cigarettes.
Donovan’s campaign for Connecticut’s only open congressional seat was thrown into chaos Thursday with news that FBI agents had arrested Robert Braddock Jr., his campaign finance director.
Braddock is charged with conspiring to conceal the source of $20,000 in campaign contributions, which the FBI says was an undercover agent posing as a businessman interested in influencing the tobacco legislation.
Donovan immediately fired Braddock and his campaign manager, Josh Nassi. A deputy finance director also was fired.
Malloy said Monday that federal authorities have not briefed him on the case, but he expects they will do so at a time when it is appropriate to their investigation.
The governor praised the U.S. attorney’s office and FBI for moving quickly on an apparent effort to influence legislation.
“This thing clearly has come to a head very quickly,” he said.
But they cannot move quickly enough for Donovan, who is not implicated in any public evidence, yet his campaign will languish under a cloud until the authorities release more information.
Donovan is competing for the Democratic nomination in the 5th Congressional District, which will be settled in a primary Aug. 14. Malloy said he believes the government is well aware of the political calendar.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the circumstances of the primary are a factor which must be take into consideration by the prosecutors,” Malloy said, adding that all evidence is that they are moving as quickly as possible.