Three major groups that have endorsed Fifth District candidate Chris Donovan say they are standing by their candidate, after federal authorities arrested seven people this week in a probe connected to Donovan’s campaign.
Lindsay Farrell, the director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, which is backing Donovan in the Fifth District, said the group is maintaining its support for the Democratic frontrunner.
“We absolutely are,” she said in a phone interview. “Chris Donovan fired Josh Nassi from the campaign as soon as something became apparent that something was amiss. It’s unimaginable that he had any knowledge of this wrongdoing.”
Connecticut AFL-CIO President John W. Olsen also forcefully defended Donovan, saying that federal investigators have not shown that Donovan was connected to or knew about illegal activity within his congressional campaign.
“I’m not bothered by the indictments,” he said. “I think we kind of expected what we’re seeing there. If Donovan’s guilty of anything, he’s guilty of having
a full plate doing the business of the people of Connecticut and didn’t have time to notice this, I hate to say it, juvenile operation.”
The AFL-CIO threw its support behind Donovan at a convention in Hartford late last month.
Earlier Thursday, national advocacy group MoveOn said it is also holding steady on its backing for Donovan, according to its national director of coordinated campaigns.
“I don’t think anything has changed,” national director Daniel Mintz said in a phone interview. MoveOn is standing by Chris Donovan because he’s the best candidate in the race.”
Mintz noted that Donovan fired several campaign staffers in late may after his former finance director, Rob Braddock Jr., was arrested by federal investigators. He also lauded Donovan’s campaign for commissioning an investigation into the campaign by former U.S. Attorney Stanley A. Twardy–even though Twardy found no evidence of wrongdoing and was unable to talk to several key witnesses.
Donovan picked up MoveOn’s endorsement in late June when only Braddock had been arrested.
Mintz denied that the additional arrests weaken Donovan’s candidacy less than three weeks before the state’s primary.
“I think what we’ve seen, voters are by and large really quite happy with how Chris handled this,” he said. “And today doesn’t change any of that.”
Both Olsen and Mintz said they do not think the new arrests will weaken Donovan candidacy in the primary. Donovan is vying for the Democratic nomination on Aug. 14 against rival Democrats Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti.