The arrest of the suspected bag man, who's apparently talking, and six others in the scheme to bribe congressional candidate Chris Donovan in exchange for killing a bill in the legislature should be quite enough to retire Donovan from the race or defeat him in the Aug. 14 primary.
To quote an opponent, if Donovan knew about all this, there's a problem and if he didn't know, there's a problem and both problems are of candidacy-ending magnitude.
But if it's not enough for the public employee unions and other true believers, there are other Donovan activities reasonable voters should find rather objectionable, if not indictable.
Most recently, there was Donovan's refusal to resign from the commission reapportioning the state's congressional districts even though he was running in one of the districts being redrawn. Having a candidate setting the boundaries of his own district is what most people would call a blatant conflict of interest. But Donovan arrogantly delayed resigning until the districts were redrawn.
Next, return with us to Friday, Jan. 17, 2009, when Donovan, the newly elected speaker of the House, announced he was appointing his predecessor, James Amman, to be his special assistant at a salary of $120,000 a year.
The announcement omitted a few inconvenient details like Amman's intention to continue working his two other jobs, running for governor and fund raising for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, which paid $60,000.
Now, running for governor consumes a bit more than 40 hours each week and raising funds for a charity would seem to require something like a full day's work for $60,000. This left the skeptics among us to assume Amman would rarely be showing up anywhere near the speaker's office in Hartford and Donovan would not be receiving much special assistance for the taxpayers' $120,000 a year.
The job therefore amounted to a $120,000 contribution to the Amman for governor campaign out of taxpayer pockets, not Donovan's, as it would subsidize Amman's candidacy at public expense. This is not the usual definition of public financing.
The announcement's timing seemed brilliant, as it came on the weekend before the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States, an historic event that would cast all other news into oblivion.
But it didn't work out that way. The state was facing a deficit, reform and change were in the air and state Democrats quickly joined Republicans and the media in an angry response to Donovan's raw political move.
By inauguration eve, poor Amman was back to only two full-time jobs. He was even reduced to telling a home town blog in Milford he wasn't looking for another job; he just wanted to continue his state insurance, as if that might be a more noble motive. Donovan's explanation was as lame as Amman's:
"He and I had a chance to discuss these matters at length yesterday and again today and it became clear his sense of the demands of his political work differed from mine to an extent it made employment in my office unrealistic."
In other words, Donovan innocently thought Amman could run for governor, work full time for a charity and serve full time as his special assistant. An honest error that could happen to anyone.
And now, three years later, following the arrests of two key aides and five others, he's claiming another honest oversight. As a busy candidate for Congress, routine housekeeping matters like fund raising are beneath him - although he did get caught taking the time to meet the illegal donors. He declined to say what they talked about.
"It was just a meeting we had with some folks and that's all I'm going to say about that now," he "explained."
Donovan presumably talked about that meeting when he was interviewed by Stan Twardy, the attorney he hired to conduct an "independent" investigation of the scandal but the interview was somehow not recorded. Twardy couldn't interview most of the principals but that didn't deter him from finding Donovan innocent.
I'm still awaiting a reply to a July 6 email to the Donovan campaign website asking who is paying for the investigation, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you gave to the Donovan for Congress campaign, you may be interested in an answer too.
Dick Ahles is a retired journalist from Simsbury.