NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A former aide to ex-state House Speaker Christopher Donovan was sentenced Tuesday to more than three years in prison in connection with illegal contributions to Donovan’s failed congressional campaign last year.
Robert Braddock Jr., who was convicted in May of campaign finance violations, was sentenced in New Haven to three years and two months in prison. Campaign finance regulations play a critical role as the country grapples with regulating money in campaigns, Judge Janet Bond Arterton said.
“This was one of the crassest, most flagrant violations” of campaign finance regulations, said the judge, who referred to the scheme as “brazen corruption.”
Braddock, who’s due to report to prison in mid-November, was the finance manager for Donovan’s campaign for the 5th Congressional District seat.
Donovan, a Democrat, wasn’t charged, but his congressional campaign was derailed by the allegations.
Prosecutors say Braddock and seven other co-defendants who pleaded guilty were involved in a scheme that funneled nearly $28,000 to Donovan’s campaign through straw donors in an effort to get Donovan to kill proposed legislation to raise taxes on roll-your-own cigarette shops. Shop owners gave the money to employees and others, who then wrote checks to Donovan’s campaign to conceal the fact that the money was coming from the store owners.
The bill on roll-your-own tobacco shops failed in last year’s regular session but was approved in a subsequent special session.
Braddock was convicted of accepting more than $10,000 in federal campaign contributions made by people in the names of others; conspiring to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and to defraud the U.S. by impeding the FEC; and causing a false report to be filed with the FEC.
Braddock didn’t initiate the scheme, but he assisted and encouraged it, the judge said. But she also noted he served his country as a U.S. Marine and said she was impressed by the level of his work with an organization that feeds the hungry, suggesting it could become his new calling.
Braddock didn’t address the court, but his attorney, Frank Riccio Jr., said Braddock didn’t steal any money and no one was directly harmed. Riccio had sought probation, community service and home confinement for Braddock.
“He didn’t benefit from this financially,” Riccio said.
But prosecutor Christopher Mattei disagreed that no one was harmed, saying the scheme hurt the people of Connecticut. The failure of the legislation could have resulted in the loss of more than $100 million, he said.
“This is a case that shows what happens when a process that is supposed to be transparent and is the most sacred we have in this society is corrupted,” Mattei said.
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