Thursday’s new arrests in the campaign financing scandal surrounding Christopher Donovan’s 5th District congressional candidacy quickly drew criticism from two Republican candidates vying for the seat.
Litchfield businessman Mark Greenberg, one of four Republicans seeking their party’s nomination in the district, renewed his call for Donovan to drop out of the race in a statement hours after the arrests became public.
“These additional arrests show at the very least, Chris Donovan’s campaign to be a corrupt operation and the indictment also suggests the Speaker may have known of this illegal activity,” Greenberg said. “This case is not about party politics. Republicans, Democrats and Unaffiliated voters should be outraged that our state is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Donovan’s campaign has joined the list of offenders in Connecticut political corruption cases.”
Greenberg said of the alleged criminal activity by Donovan’s campaign staff members: “If he knew about it, it’s a big problem. If he didn’t know about it, it’s still a big problem.”
Greenberg also repeated a call for Donovan to step down as speaker of the state House of Representatives.
Convention-endorsed Republican 5th District candidate state Sen. Andrew Roraback of Goshen referred to Donovan’s now-fired campaign manager, Joshua Nassi, as Donovan’s “alter ego.”
In a statement, Roraback said: “Today’s news of a guilty plea having been entered by Ray Soucy for having devised a scheme to bribe a public official together with the reported arrests of Chris Donovan’s alter-ego, Josh Nassi, and others connected to this scandal cannot help but raise additional questions about Mr. Donovan’s knowledge or lack of knowledge as to the conduct around which this scandal has developed. Speaker Donovan owes it to all voters in the 5th District to answer fully any and all questions which relate to his role in the transgressions of his campaign.”
Before becoming Donovan’s campaign manager late last year, Nassi had been a top staff aide to Donovan at the state legislature.
But in an interview later Thursday, Roraback said he was not calling on Donovan to drop out of the race.
“That’s a decision that only he can make,” said Roraback. “Ultimately, the fate of all candidates is in the hands of the voters. All I’m demanding is that he be open, transparent and truthful about all aspects of this unseemly situation.”
In a statement, Republican candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley echoed Roraback and also avoided calling on Donovan to bow out of the race.
“It’s a sad day for Connecticut and it raises questions about the Democrat-led Legislature and how career politicians do the people’s business,” she said.
Roraback, Wilson-Foley and Greenberg are contending with fellow Republican Justin Bernier in an Aug. 14 primary for their party’s nomination. Donovan, the Democrats’ convention endorsed candidate in the race, faces two intra-party challengers, Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti, in his party’s Aug. 14 primary.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Nat Sillin, also jumped in with a statement: “Even in light of these new arrests, national Democrats remain deafeningly silent on Chris Donovan’s growing scandal because they know their endorsed candidate’s chances are going up in smoke faster than a hand-rolled cigarette. Either Donovan was complicit in the alleged activities – or he was so disconnected from his own campaign that he’s an incompetent manager unfit for federal office. Connecticut voters deserve to know – which is it?”
Courant staff writers Wes Duplantier and Daniela Altimari contributed to this report.