HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- House Speaker Chris Donovan's congressional campaign said Saturday it has returned what it believes are all the questionable contributions tied to an alleged scheme to stop legislation at the state Capitol that would have imposed taxes on Connecticut roll-your-own tobacco shops.
Tom Swan, manager of Donovan's 5th Congressional District race, told The Associated Press that the campaign returned $27,660 last month to the FBI. He said the campaign relied on its own internal reports as well as information from a federal investigation to determine how much money should be returned.
"We chose to give it to the federal government," he said, referring to the FBI. "We do believe that's all of it," he said, adding, "We really don't know where the stuff came from."
On Thursday, Donovan's former campaign finance director pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged scheme to hide the source of $27,500 in campaign contribution. Robert Braddock Jr., 33, of Meriden, faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted on charges of conspiring to conceal federal campaign contributions, accepting federal campaign contributions made by people in the names of others and causing false reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Swan provided the AP with a list of the returned checks. Besides 11 checks for $2,500, believed to be from the conduit donors, the campaign returned two checks from Ray Soucy, a former prison union official who has been identified by The Hartford Courant and Waterbury Republican-American as an unindicted co-conspirator listed in Braddock's indictment. Soucy, who has not responded to numerous requests for comment, allegedly met with the tobacco store owners and conspired to make contributions to Donovan's congressional campaign in an effort to buy influence and defeat the roll-your-own tax legislation in the General Assembly.
Donovan, the Democrats' endorsed candidate, has denied any knowledge of the scheme and has not been charged with any crimes.
Swan acknowledged that the controversy has affected Donovan's continued fundraising efforts. He said the campaign raised $149,715 over the past three months. That's compared to $340,000 over the same period raised by former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, one of Donovan's three Democratic rivals in the Aug. 14 primary.
Donovan has raised nearly $1.1 million in total and has $570,515 in cash on hand.
Esty has reported raising $1.5 million and has $900,000 in cash. The third Democrat, Daniel Roberti, has not yet announced his figures.
"There's no doubt that we had additional challenges during the month of June," Swan said. However, he said the campaign has hired a new finance director. He said an assistant finance director and chief operating officers will also be on the job soon.
Despite the controversy, Swan said Donovan, who is still being strongly supported by organized labor, expects he can rely on his supporters to keep making contributions.
"We have thousands of low donor contributors and their pattern is to give over and over again," he said.
There are also four Republicans in the race: state Sen. Andrew Roraback, veteran Justin Bernier and business owners Lisa Wilson-Foley and Mark Greenberg. They are vying to fill the seat that's been vacated by U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate.
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