(Updated 9:45 p.m.) Following Monday’s Bond Commission meeting, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — the former prosecutor familiar with criminal investigations — said there’s two possible explanations for the speed with which the feds’ campaign corruption investigation has developed.
“One is that there was an investigation into other matters and somehow this came across someone’s bow,” Malloy told reporters. “The other way is, it just came across someone’s bow and they recognized an opportunity to investigate.”
However, Malloy pointed out “we actually don’t know who started this,” and added, “Until that time anything else is speculation.”
Lots of theories are floating around the capitol. Sources have speculated that the investigation is related to the roll-your-own cigarette fee legislation, while others say the probe is strictly related to Chris Donovan’s campaign and its staff.
Malloy told reporters Monday that the roll-your-own legislation was something his administration wanted passed.
The legislation was written April 3 after the courts dealt the state a revenue setback in March.
The state had sought an injunction against a Norwalk tobacco shop claiming that the owner was circumventing regulations by helping people operate the roll-your-own tobacco dispenser. State officials say the machine can produce a 10-pack carton of cigarettes in just 10 minutes at a price $30 below retail.
The court found that the shops couldn’t be labeled manufacturers because customers make the cigarettes, but the state doesn’t have the manpower to monitor how much help customers receive from shop owners.
As a result of the ruling, the Malloy administration helped draft legislation requiring tobacco shops with roll-your-own cigarette machines to obtain a $5,000 manufacturer’s license. There are currently 15 such smoke shops in Connecticut. The issue didn’t make it out of the Senate before May 9, never reaching the House, and is expected to be raised again during the June 12 special session.
“We believe it should be passed,” Malloy said, adding that the shop owners are trying to circumvent the clear intent of federal and state statutes with respect to the taxation of tobacco products.
“So we’re proponents of this happening,” Malloy said.
Meanwhile, the governor said he’d like to talk to federal investigators, but he’s happy to give them some leeway until they are ready to provide more information about their findings.
Malloy was the first Democrat to call upon Donovan to offer an explanation for the allegations. Donovan did that on Sunday at a press conference outside his headquarters in Meriden. However, there wasn’t anything Donovan was able to say about the ongoing investigation, and Malloy appears to be fine with that even if Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney doesn’t think so.
“Governor Malloy may be satisfied with Speaker Donovan’s limited responses to the news media, but I am not,” McKinney said, adding that the allegations cast a “dark cloud over the entire legislature and the legislative process.”
Malloy said he’d take Donovan at his word.
“I’m going to take the speaker’s statements that he’s been asked by the feds not to comment beyond those items that are currently public. That’s not unusual of an investigation at this stage,” Malloy said. “It may make his life a little more difficult to honor that request.”
Malloy said Donovan met the test of dismissing the individuals involved, admits no knowledge of the allegations, and has come forward to speak with the public.
“I was pretty straightforward about what needed to happen. The speaker needed to come forward and answer questions,” Malloy said. “He’s done that. I think the rest is between the speaker and the public.”
Asked about Ray Soucy, who has widely been identified as “Co-Conspirator 1” in the federal corruption affidavit, Malloy said he wouldn’t describe Soucy as a political operative. According to the affidavit, Soucy was the person who helped set up meetings with the Donovan campaign and accepted the money for the straw donations from the FBI undercover agent.
Soucy’s Facebook page features a photo of him and Malloy from the 2011 inaugural ball.
“I know him through his labor contacts, and specifically with respect to Corrections officers more than anything else,” Malloy said. “If you’d ask me, ‘who is this guy Soucy?’ I would say he represents the Corrections officers.”