U.S. Senate candidate Chris Murphy vouches for the integrity of embattled House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan in a new mailing, putting him in the middle of Donovan’s Democratic primary for Murphy’s congressional seat.
But the testimonial was unauthorized, forcing the Donovan campaign to issue a statement of regret Tuesday night for using Murphy’s photo and quote in a manner that gives the impression of an endorsement. Murphy has endorsed no one to succeed him.
“We should have done a better job of communicating with them throughout this, and I accept responsibility for that lack of communication,” said Tom Swan, the manager of the Donovan campaign.
The mailer was unwelcome for Murphy on two counts: It drew him into an internal Democratic fight while he faces his own Democratic primary with Susan Bysiewicz, and it links him with a scandal not involving his own campaign.
“We did not know about it, and we did not approve it,” said Ben Marter, a spokesman for the Murphy campaign.
Donovan, whose campaign was rocked by the arrest of two former campaign aides in connection with an investigation into illegal campaign contributions, is seeking the 5th District seat Murphy is surrendering to run for U.S. Senate.
Murphy, a three-term congressman, was supportive of Donovan during an appearance July 15 on the “Real Story,” a Fox Connecticut news show.
“I do trust Chris Donovan, and I believe him…Chris Donovan has spent his career fighting for a cleaner government and a more ethical government,” says the mailer, which attributes the quote to Murphy by linking it to his photo. Murphy’s name does not appear with the quote.
It is juxtaposed with both a picture of Murphy and a Hartford Courant headline about an investigation commissioned by Donovan’s campaign: “Independent probe clears Donovan.”
The same front-page image is used in a Donovan television commercial.
The accuracy of the Murphy quote is not contested.
Murphy made that statement 11 days before a federal indictment added details to the scandal, which broke May 31 with news of the arrest of Donovan’s finance director, Robert Braddock Jr. The July 26 indictment describes Donovan’s then-campaign manager communicating with a senior legislative aide about tobacco legislation.
The indictment charges the manager, Joshua Nassi, and Braddock, with conspiring to solicit campaign contributions from smoke shop owners in return for a promise to kill a bill to impose fees on roll-your-own cigarettes.
Donovan is engaged in a three-way primary for the Democratic nomination with former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Cheshire and Dan Roberti of Kent, who each have made the federal investigation a campaign issue.
Here is Murphy’s appearance from which the quotes were taken.