One hates to get — what was the Obama phrase about Biden? — too far out over one’s skis, but Chris Donovan will find it difficult to rebound from this.
Just a general hint for candidates picking finance directors: pictures like this should be a warning. [Update: someone appears to have pulled Braddock's Google Plus photo.]Finance directors are the hardest campaign spots to fill these days. The number of people who do it well and want to do it is small. Note that Braddock is “not from around here,” as they say. Sometimes campaigns aren’t choosy enough because they’re desperate.
For Donovan, this isn’t a problem. It’s five problems.
There’s also a mess-of-pottage quality to the whole thing. The campaign finance director sacrificed Donovan’s credibility for some money from the Roll-Your-Own lobby? Suddenly and for a very brief moment, Linda McMahon and Lisa Wilson-Foley look like Abe Lincoln in Chanel.
At the moment, the big winners appear to be named Roberti and Esty. Also Roraback, the candidate who could beat Roberti or Esty.
But before Tom Swan takes away Donovan’s belt and shoelaces, here are a few things worth at least thinking about:
The feds moved with uncustomary alacrity. They arrested on the last day of May for offenses committed during May? They never do that, unless it’s Phil Giordano. And they had somebody undercover? That suggests a bigger, longer investigation. I don’t know what to make of that. I’m not making anything in particular of it. But it means something. They usually don’t work that way. If he has any plausible claim of deniability, Donovan could benefit from this haste. If he can plausibly claim Braddock was an independent actor, he has time to reorganize and shake this off. (That seems very doubtful but not impossible.) The more probable scenario is that this pulls down the campaign right now, especially if Braddock puts his boss in the jackpot. One thing that doesn’t help is that Donovan has a lot of explaining to do and he’s a horrible explainer. In his Dankosky interview he sounded like Bullwinkle on ketamine.
This may not be the only active investigation in the district. The FEC fielded multiple complaints about Wilson-Foley. One of them came from a former FBI agent. If there’s an apparent crime or criminal conspiracy in that campaign, the same U.S. Atty. gets involved. In fact, one reason they might have moved so fast in Donovan’s case is to put a little daylight between two cases and two outcomes in the Fifth.
Some of the state’s excellent Capitol reporters might now want to go back and revisit the events of Pissy Night. Even legislators normally in the loop were puzzled by the way everything slowed down in the final hours, when the normal mode is legislation-on-meth. There appeared to be, in particular, some kind of breakdown between House and Senate leadership. It would be worth it, I think, to ask around about that. Did Williams and Looney get pissy because too much of the activity seemed to be dictated by Donovan fund-raising?
Even if Donovan turned out to be completely unaware of what was being done on his behalf …with people who had specific business before him…well that doesn’t look very good, does it? It makes him look clueless.
The chances that he will be sitting on a plate next to eggs and home fries by Sunday are very high.
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