Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday he was impressed with the speed at which the U.S. Attorney’s office was investigating an alleged conspiracy involving members of Chris Donovan’s congressional campaign, but said it would be nice if voters knew before the primary whether Donovan will be a target.
Speaking with reporters for the first time since federal authorities made additional arrests last week in the investigation surrounding Chris Donovan’s congressional campaign, Malloy described the allegations detailed in the indictments as “terrible.”
The latest unsealed indictment shows there was communication between Donovan’s former campaign manager, Josh Nassi, and a member of his legislative staff regarding the legislation tobacco store owners wanted defeated. The feds have charged eight people for conspiring to hide the identity of donors who gave $27,500 in illegal conduit checks to Donovan’s 5th Congressional District campaign.
The indictment details text messages between Nassi and an unnamed legislative aide talking about ways to defeat the legislation, which was eventually passed during a June 12 special session. Nassi was among seven who were arrested last week.
The governor said he’s taken time to read the superseding indictment.
“It’s terrible,” Malloy said Tuesday. “You know, a bunch of people in Connecticut have been charged with doing things that have the ability to cause our citizenry to have concern and worry about their governmental processes. These criminal acts that have been alleged to have been committed. This is some pretty bad stuff.”
Donovan has maintained he had no knowledge of the illegal activity.
“The speaker said he’s done nothing wrong and we’ve not read anywhere any allegation that he has done anything wrong,” Malloy said.
But he added that it would be helpful if the U.S. Attorney would say whether Donovan is ultimately a target of the federal investigation.
“That would be helpful and valuable information for the voters to make their decision on [August] 14. Without telling anyone how to do their job, that might be a useful piece of information,” Malloy said.
Tom Carson, a spokesman for United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut David Fein, said the office was declining to comment on the governor’s statement.
But as a former prosecutor, Malloy had high praise for Fein.
“It’s quite clear that the U.S. Attorney is a diligent person and by all appearances expedited, and I think appropriately so, this investigation,” he said.
Fein identified a “bad actor,” turned him and obtained information about other bad actors, and then indicted them in short order, Malloy said.
“As a former prosecutor, I have to tell you, I’m pretty impressed,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney called for a he formation of an eight-member, bipartisan, bicameral investigatory committee to look into whether any violation of the public’s trust took place in Donovan’s office.
Asked whether the committee was an appropriate response, Malloy noted that he was the head of the state’s Executive Branch, not its legislature. But he said if the legislature does move forward with an inquiry, they should coordinate as much as possible with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Having said that, on basic concept, I think we should all be concerned about what happened and I trust that the legislative body will deal with this at the appropriate time,” he said.
Federal authorities have charged eight people in connection with a scheme to hide the identity of donors who gave $27,500 in illegal conduit checks to Donovan’s 5th Congressional District campaign. The donations allegedly came from roll-your-own smoke shop owners seeking to defeat legislation detrimental to their business interests.