Not unlike his first 30-second TV spot, Chris Donovan is back with a second ad he where looks directly in the camera to talk to voters. This time though it’s not about his progressive agenda its about the attacks by his Democratic opponents regarding the ongoing federal investigation.
“You’ve seen the attacks” Donovan says from a front porch. “I want you to hear directly from me.“
Donovan is one of three Democrats vying for the party’s nomination Aug. 14 in the 5th Congressional District, which covers the western portion of the state.
The federal government has charged eight people in connection with a pay-for-play scheme, including Donovan’s former campaign manager and finance director.
“What my former campaign employees are accused of is everything wrong with politics,“ Donovan says in the ad. “That’s why I immediately fired them and asked a former Republican U.S. Attorney to conduct an independent investigation.“
Across the screen flashes the Hartford Courant headline “Independent Probe Clears Donovan,“ which was the headline the day following the release of former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy’s report. Twardy was hired by the Donovan campaign and given unfettered access to investigate if Donovan himself has any knowledge of the allegedly illegal donations made to the campaign, but was unable to interview several key figures, including Josh Nassi, the former campaign manager.
Twardy interviewed Donovan and 12 former and current campaign aides, but was unable to interview the three individuals fired as a result of the federal investigation. Lawyers for Robert Braddock Jr., the former campaign finance director, Nassi, the former campaign manager, and Sara Waterfall, the former deputy finance director, declined interviews for Twardy’s investigation. A lawyer for Laura Jordan, Donovan’s chief legal counsel in the General Assembly, also declined to allow his client to be interviewed.
“The truth is no one in Connecticut has worked harder than me to clean up elections,“ Donovan says in the ad. “I’m Chris Donovan. I’m proud to be endorsed by the Democratic Party. In Congress, I’ll fight for seniors and working families, just like I have my whole life. That’s why I approve this message.”
Twardy’s report concluded Donovan did not trade his influence as speaker of the House of Representatives for campaign donations, but the federal investigation is ongoing. Donovan maintains he had no knowledge of the campaign contributions made through straw donors seeking to influence roll-your-own tobacco legislation, but he refuses to take questions regarding the investigations from the media.
“We wanted to address the scurrilous attacks on Chris, highlight his record as one of Connecticut’s leading fighters for campaign finance reform, and show his broad base of support,” Gabe Rosenberg, Donovan’s spokesman, said in describing the impetus for the second TV ad.
However, Donovan’s inability to tackle the questions has given his two Democratic opponents an opening to attack him—possibility providing ammunition for his Republican candidate in the fall.
Former State Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti have both attacked Donovan and have used mailers and television ads to arouse voters suspicions of their fellow Democratic opponent.
But Donovan supporters have been fighting back holding press conferences to address the accusations made by outside groups like EMILY’S List, which has endorsed Esty. None of the unions or the groups who have endorsed Donovan have withdrawn their support.
The most recent Esty campaign mailer includes headlines from the Register Citizen such as “Indictment of Chris Donovan Aide Alleges Conspiracy to Kill Law for Money” and “Source: Chris Donovan a Focus of Federal Probe,” a headline from the CT Post.
Roberti has used his campaign ads to attack both Donovan and Esty, including one which shows a Donovan look alike exiting a tanning bed full of smoke.
“Took money from tanning bed operators, then killed a bill that protected kids from skin cancer,” the narrator says in the ad.
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Will the ads make a difference in how you vote? Use the comment section below to discuss.