NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A key witness in the federal trial against a campaign aide to former Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan discussed his role Wednesday in a scheme to illegally funnel nearly $28,000 in contributions to the one-time Democratic congressional candidate.

Harry Ray Soucy, a former Department of Correction officer and union official, testified for more than three hours at U.S. District Court in New Haven. He explained how he tried to use money and political connections to kill a bill before the General Assembly in 2012 that would have taxed roll-your-own cigarette establishments. The tax later passed in a separate, special session.

Besides Soucy’s testimony at the trial of Robert Braddock, Donovan’s former congressional campaign finance director, jurors heard from Soucy in recordings and written messages that were presented as evidence, the Connecticut Post reported.

“Politics is about the Benjamins,” Soucy was heard on tape, telling an FBI informant. “This game runs on one thing _ dollars.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Glover led Soucy through at least a dozen tape recordings involving plans by roll-your-own shop owners to buy support from legislators. Also, at least an hour of text messaging between Soucy and Rep. Joseph Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, now the House majority leader, was presented. In those messages, the pair discussed the roll-your-own tax bill.

“If you fix it it will jump to 10 large,” Soucy wrote to Aresimowicz, proposing more money to Donovan’s campaign. “Will have to take care of U 2.”

Aresimowicz wrote back, “Not needed.” Aresimowicz declined to comment because he is listed as a potential witness in the case.

Soucy also testified he left $5,000 in cash in House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr.’s legislative office refrigerator in hopes of persuading him to oppose the bill, but the cash was immediately returned by a Republican House staff member.

Cafero said the FBI has told him neither he nor anyone on his staff did anything wrong.

Donovan has denied any knowledge of the scheme and has not been charged with any crimes.

Soucy and six other defendants in the case, including Joshua Nassi, Donovan’s former campaign manager, have already pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate federal election campaign laws. Soucy is expected to appear again in court on Thursday.


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