(Updated 6:25 p.m.) Reports filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission identify two Naugatuck residents as the sources of donations returned by House Republicans in the aftermath of an FBI undercover operation resulting in the arrest of House Speaker Chris Donovan’s congressional finance director.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero was one of dozens of lawmakers interviewed following the arrest of Robert Braddock Jr. During that interview in the FBI’s Meriden offices, Cafero was told five checks were made out to Republican PACs, but two of those checks were never cashed after a staffer left for vacation before depositing them.
The three $1,000 checks that were returned came from Anne Soucy and Walter Dambowsky of Naugatuck. Two were made out to the House Republican Campaign Committee and one was made New Horizons PAC.
Soucy lives at the same address as Ray Soucy, the former correction officer and union official, who has been identified by news reports as co-conspirator one in the Braddock arrest complaint. Mrs. Soucy declined comment Monday by hanging up the phone.
Dambowsky, also of Naugatuck, is a state investigator and volunteers as an auxiliary state trooper, according to the state police. Calls to Dambowsky’s phone number went unanswered.
Republicans continue to maintain their silence regarding the straw donations and how they ended up in their PACs. Pat O’Neil, a spokesman for Cafero, said investigators asked Cafero to refrain from commenting on the investigation. O’Neil declined to comment beyond a statement Cafero released on June 1.
In June, Cafero said House Republicans had no way of knowing the checks were contributed by straw donors.
“When we initially received these contributions, they all bore the indicia and appropriate certifications attendant to legitimate donations,” Cafero said. “As a result of the information given to me by federal officials at this meeting, I made the decision to return these donations of questionable origin to the donors so as not to negatively reflect on the compliance standards we maintain for all of our political action committees.”
Federal authorities made it clear that neither Cafero nor his staff were the targets of their investigation, he said.
The FBI has declined to comment on the investigation beyond a press release and Braddock’s arrest affidavit. It’s unclear why government money found its way to PACs controlled by House Republicans.
Braddock was arrested on charges he illegally conspired to hide the source of campaign donations by arranging straw donors to write checks. According to the affidavit, he concealed the identity of donors who he thought were giving the money to influence the roll-your-own cigarette legislation before the General Assembly.
Donovan has maintained he had no knowledge of his finance director’s attempt to trade his influence as speaker for campaign donations.
Former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy, who was hired by Donovan’s campaign to do his own investigation of the matter, concluded last week that Donovan had no knowledge of the $20,000 in straw donations to his campaign. Twardy’s report does say Donovan was aware of the roll-your-own legislation because he met with two individuals he thought to be investors in RYO smoke shops back in the fall of 2011. That meeting was arranged by Soucy, according to Twardy’s report.
The RYO legislation died during the regular session when the Senate failed to act on it. However, it was passed on June 12 during a special legislative session.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.