Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Ethics Issues Abound in Connecticut Primary

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
An FBI sting targeted state Speaker Chris Donovan’s former finance director.

“This primary isn’t about nominating any Democrat. It’s about nominating a Democrat who the families of the district can trust to fight for our shared progressive values,” Donovan spokesman Gabe Rosenberg wrote in an email. “Chris has never backed away from those values and he never will.”

Labor unions and local Democratic allies are sticking with Donovan, and they are why he remains the frontrunner in the primary. He is also fortunate the primary is Aug. 14 and the television air war has yet to commence.

“He’s got this huge track record, so when this issue came out a couple weeks ago, our members waited and read the same information everyone else has,” said Jennifer Smith, a local SEIU political director. “Chris has said he’s not involved and clearly his track record speaks for itself.”

John McNamara of the New Britain Democratic Town Committee said that he would “bet the farm that [Donovan’s] integrity comes out intact.”

Republicans hope they face Donovan in November.

The GOP frontrunner is state Sen. Andrew Roraback, a longtime legislator who has cultivated an image as a squeaky clean moderate. The swing district leans Democratic but has a history of electing Republicans prior to 2006, when Murphy first won election to Congress.

“Donovan isn’t dead yet,” a state Republican operative said. “I think Donovan would be great [as the Democratic nominee]. Because although he has the union support, he has all this baggage you can hit him with.“

While many view Roraback as the most formidable GOP contender, he is not certain to win the party nomination. The field includes businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley and real estate developer Mark Greenberg, both of whom have the capacity to self-fund campaigns. Justin Bernier, the 2010 GOP nominee, is also running and has high residual name identification in the district.

Wilson-Foley, however, has run into her own ethical issues. Federal investigators are examining former Gov. John Rowland’s (R) work as a consultant for her husband’s health care company, Apple Rehab, according to the Hartford Courant. At the same time, Rowland was a volunteer for her campaign.

Her campaign manager, Christopher Syrek, said the investigation “stems from a political attack” from a former opponent.

“Neither Lisa, her campaign, or her husband’s business violated any election law,” he wrote in an email. “The truth and the facts are on our side and we are moving on with the campaign.”

Still, a Wilson-Foley nomination could set up a scenario in which both major-party candidates campaign under ethical clouds.

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