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Former Speaker Looks To Retire Campaign Debt With Fundraiser

by | Apr 8, 2015 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Campaign Finance, Smoke Shop Investigation, Donovan

Christine Stuart file photo Former House Speaker Chris Donovan landed a job with the Connecticut Education Association at the end of 2014, and now he is trying to retire the debt from his unsuccessful 2012 congressional bid.

Lawmakers, supporters, and friends are gathering on April 28 in West Hartford to help the former state lawmaker from Meriden raise money to pay off his campaign debt. The event is being billed as a celebration of his 20-year legislative career.

“Let’s say thanks to Chris for an inspiring 20-year legislative career, heroically leading the fights for social and economic justice and help Chris retire the remaining debt from his 2012 Congressional campaign,” the invitation reads.

The price of admission ranges between $50 to $250.

Most of Donovan’s $144,000 in campaign debt is largely tied to defending himself during a federal investigation that led to prison time for both his campaign manager and finance director. The campaign manager, Josh Nassi, entered a plea deal while his finance director, Robert Braddock, went to trial and was convicted of charges related to trying to hide the source of $27,500 in contributions to Donovan’s congressional campaign.

The money from the roll-your-own tobacco shop owners was given to Donovan’s campaign in the hope that he would defeat legislation that would have put them out of business.

Prosecutors hinted in court documents that Donovan was aware of the conspiracy, but Donovan was never charged and he maintained that he knew nothing of the scheme. Prosecutors even took the unusual step of notifying Donovan’s attorney that they never planned on filing charges against the former speaker.

Unlike other forms of debt, former candidates have an unlimited amount of time to pay it off. The vendors who may have provided services but remain unpaid have no legal recourse to collect the debt.

For 20 years, astronaut John Glenn still owed money from his failed 1984 presidential campaign when the FEC finally closed his campaign with the debt unpaid in 2006.

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(10) Archived Comments

posted by: cnj-david | April 8, 2015  5:39am

“Let’s say thanks to Chris for an inspiring 20-year legislative career, heroically leading the fights for social and economic justice and help Chris retire the remaining debt from his 2012 Congressional campaign,” the invitation reads.

juxtaposed with:

Most of Donovan’s $144,000 in campaign debt is largely tied to defending himself during a federal investigation that led to prison time for both his campaign manager and finance director.

How heroic…

posted by: art vandelay | April 8, 2015  7:18am

art vandelay

No matter how you look at it, it’s called a shakedown.

posted by: dano860 | April 8, 2015  10:26am

CEA, isn’t that the same gang that hired Donnie Williams?
Get out of government and become a goon / lobbiest. Nice job if you can get it but guess who pays the freight for them in the end. Yup, us!
Maybe he should have talked to the Colorado folks and rolled up some fatties instead of the cigarette people.
When you run for an office you should calculate whether or not you can afford to lose. If not you will never be a winner.

posted by: Jim in Mfg | April 8, 2015  1:05pm

Why doesn’t he just pay it back from his own salary?

Or let his employers of 3 months (CEA) and his employers of the last 20 years (CEA SEIU, AFT,and AFSCME)pay it.  They certainly got their money’s worth.

posted by: SocialButterfly | April 8, 2015  2:06pm

He should be responsible enough to not fund-raise for his legal expense tied to defending himself in a federal probe that sent his campaign manager and finance director to prison.
Count your blessings Christopher that you were spared prison-time as your underlings were not.

posted by: JusticeCT | April 8, 2015  7:18pm

Such vicious comments.  There ARE some real criminal politicians in CT—Rowland, Ganim, that lowlife Waterbury mayor, Wilson, Wilson-Foley—and there are people who fought hard all their lives for regular people against special interests, made some enemies in the process, and get gleefully tarred by those enemies with the corruption brush when they make small mistakes—like Chris Donovan and Eddie Perez.  Those who know the difference need to speak up more, and those who know less need to get a life.

posted by: LE 2015 | April 8, 2015  7:38pm

Maybe Malloy will give him a job so he can get a bigger pension like DeFonzo and Sullivan

posted by: Tessa Marquis | April 9, 2015  8:39am

Wow! Look at all the Haters!

1. Donovan did nothing wrong, other than trusting someone he thought he could trust.
2. “Retiring the Debt” is common in campaigns. It is better than when campaigns solicit more funds than they need and then throw parties with the leftover cash. Just Saying.

posted by: Jim in Mfg | April 9, 2015  12:39pm

The commenters that are not sympathetic to Donovan are not “haters” and don’t reach the level of “vicious”.
1.  Why do political campaign funds spend more money than they have?
2. Why not change the law that makes the Politicians personally responsible for the debts.  This will likely eliminate the problem and clear the air of quite a bit of crappy campaign ads.
3. Most of us believe that Donovan did do something wrong and was aware of the “roll your own” arrangement but was smart enough to not leave any “footprints”. 
4.  Eddie Perez?  How is what he did different than “Hot Tub” Rowland? 

Corrupt politicians get away most of the time and we taxpayers like to see the few who do get caught, get significant punishment for misusing the public trust.

posted by: JusticeCT | April 9, 2015  9:47pm

Jim - hello?  Rowland used his radio show to bash candidates he was being secretly paid to oppose .. lied about it .. lied about the money .. again .. a pretty vast subversion of the public trust—after supposedly learning his lesson and getting religion in jail .. Eddie allegedly got a discount on some kitchen work from a city contractor (unwise) and possibly favored a political boss (unwise).  These are mistakes of judgement that caused little if any harm.  Want to defend that Waterbury mayor too?

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