This spring, a jury convicted Robert Braddock, the Finance Director to former Congressional candidate—and former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives—Christopher Donovan, with conspiring to hide the source of $27,500 in campaign contributions. According to the indictment, Braddock accepted contributions to the campaign knowing that they had been reimbursed by individuals associated with Connecticut smoke shops. On Tuesday, Braddock was sentenced to 38 months in prison and a year of supervised release.
Campaign contribution reimbursement schemes have long been an enforcement priority of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section. What’s notable about the Braddock case, however, is the unusual lengths the Justice Department and the FBI went to gather the evidence that resulted in the conviction. The FBI used an undercover agent to reimburse contributions and convinced an informant to wear a wire to record incriminating conversations with Braddock.
As the trial judge noted, Braddock did not personally orchestrate the reimbursement scheme, make contributions that were reimbursed, or reimburse others for their contributions. But he reportedly knew about the scheme, encouraged it, and praised its organizers. The lesson here is that the Justice Department and the FBI are increasingly willing to do more than simply prosecute the individuals reimbursing campaign contributions. Rather, they often see evidence of reimbursement schemes as the potential starting point in a larger effort to try to ensnare bigger fish—such as candidates and senior campaign staffers—in wider corruption probes.
As for Braddock, don’t expect his return to campaigns anytime soon. After his sentence, he remarked: “You couldn’t force me to work in politics ever again. If the judge really wanted to make it worse she could have sentenced me to work for another campaign.”