Chris Donovan had no knowledge of any wrongdoing involving campaign donations, former U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy concluded after an extensive audit of the House Speaker’s campaign for the Fifth Congressional District.
“In short based on our review … we found nothing to indicate Donovan had knowledge of improper contributions or any quid pro quo arrangements,” Twardy said at a press conference releasing his findings Thursday morning.
Twardy’s office was hired by the Donovan campaign after former campaign finance director Robert Braddock Jr. was arrested and charged with hiding the source of two $10,000 campaign donations.
Twardy’s office reviewed thousands of emails from Donovan, his campaign and legislative staff, as well as text messages. Staff also interviewed Donovan and 12 members of Donovan’s campaign and legislative staff. Braddock and three other campaign staff who have been implicated in the improper donations refused to speak with Twardy at the advice of their attorneys.
Twardy explained that in cases of wrongdoing, there is almost always an email trail to bear witness.
“We found none of that here. You heard the total volume of emails we looked at. We were quite exhaustively searching here,” Twardy said. “It would be unusual for me, based on my experience to have any largespread conspiracy without emails or any other written documents.”
According to Twardy, his interviews revealed that Donovan disliked being involved in fundraising and despite weekly emails updating him on campaign contributions and their sources, Donovan had little knowledge of the details. Since July of 2011, the Donovan campaign received donations from more than 8,000 people, Twardy said.
The first time emails to Donovan regarding legislation proposing the taxation of roll-your-own smokeshops and its possible implications for the state of Connecticut appeared was at the end of the legislative session, Twardy said.
At that point, Donovan received what appeared to be form letters from smokeshop owners asking Donovan to oppose the legislation but Donovan did not respond, Twardy said.
He later received an email indicating if the smokeshops were not taxed, the state would be at risk of losing its share of settlements with the tobacco industry and Donovan asked a staff member to follow up.
Twardy said that he was confident all of Donovan’s emails were looked at because his staff froze emails and imaged the computers, Donovan’s iPhone, iPad and the computers assigned to him at the legislature and at his campaign.
“Everything was looked at,” Twardy said, explaining how his findings differed from Donovan’s earlier declaration of innocence. “It’s not just somebody saying something. It’s substantiated by what’s not in the record.”