HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- Connecticut Speaker of the House opened Tuesday's Special General Assembly Session on budget matters, but he was only been seen for a few minutes.
Chris Donovan is keeping a very low profile and did not participate in negotiations on Tuesday's budget implementation bill because of the scandal surrounding his congressional campaign.
News 8's Mark Davis described the described the day as "awkward," with the normally accessible Speaker of the House mostly out of sight and not very chatty.
"The House will please come to order," Donovan began, "members, staff and guests please rise."
The embattled Speaker of the House opened Tuesday's session in the usual manner, but immediately relinquished the gavel to a Deputy Speaker.
Before he left for his office, Davis had a brief interview on the floor of the House.
"The Deputy Speakers are taking over and we have a good bill that people worked on, House and Senate together," he said. " And we'll be going through the process and trying to get legislative business done."
"Have you found that people think what's happened here has put a black eye on the whole legislative process," Davis asked.
"I...uhh...everybody wants to do legislative business," Donovan replied. "That's what we're doing. A good bill, people working for that, so we feel good about that. We're getting business done."
"So all you will be doing is coming in and pushing your button when you want to vote on a bill?"
"As a legislator my job is to represent the people of my district and that's what I'm going to do..okay..I gotta go."
Rank and file lawmakers have now had almost two full weeks to hear from constituents, including the ones that think all politicians are crooks.
"When something like this happens it can't help but reinforce that idea of people that have that impression to begin with," said Rep. Themis Klarides of Derby.
"Whenever there is one instance of campaign fraud it colors all politics," said Rep. Pam Sawyer of Bolton.
But members of his own party are standing firmly behind him.
"My constituents, the vast majority of them, believe that in America, a person is innocent until he's proven guilty," said Rep. Steve Mikutel of Griswold.
"My district, the constituents are very supportive and they still have faith in their representatives," agreed Rep. Joseph Verrengia of West Hartford.
"We're not all crooks. There are crooked preachers, there are crooked politicians, there are crooked teachers," said Rep. Ernest Hewett or New London. "It's not the politicians that are crooks or the teachers that are crooked it's people that are crooked and I would defend a politician any day."
Tracy Scalzi feels as though she has been caught up in Donovan's troubles and it's going to cost her big bucks.
She owns Tracy's Smoke Shops in Orange and Norwalk, and like a dozen or so other small business owners in Connecticut has taken out bank loans to invest in cigarette rolling machines. The machines have allowed customers to purchase cigarettes at greatly reduced prices.
It's a loophole that will be closed by the end of the special legislative session imposing the same taxes and manufacturing fees as the big cigarette makers by October 1st.
"They're rushing to pass the bill based on the fact, my feeling are on the fact that this whole allegation and scandal is going on," Scalzi said.
Donovan's Congressional campaign Finance Director was arrested for allegedly accepting $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions supposedly aimed at stopping the roll you own bill.
Donovan has denied any involvement and has not been arrested.
"It's not about the bill at hand, it's not about fifteen stores that will close or 140 people that will lose their jobs," Scalzi said. "It's about the fact, that, I truly believe, that it's about them being able to save face."
The chances are the bill would have passed as part of this Special Session even if Donovan's campaign had not been caught up in the scandal.
The Governor wants this loophole closed because he wants the revenue it would generate, although according to Scalzi if there's no big savings advantage for her customers chances are she'll lose a lot of her business and the state won't get very much.
Police in Waterbury are looking for clues to solve a late-night homicide where a man was shot in the neck.
A two-alarm fire destroyed a church in Pomfret Saturday afternoon.
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