No, the headline doesn’t echo my sentiments because I’ve been a Donovan critic all along. But the faithful in the left wing of the Democratic Party is standing by its man.
Even after the recent arrest of Josh Nassi, one of Donovan’s closest aides, union bosses and liberal activists continue to insist that nothing uncovered so far has directly tied their man to the scandal. They are unconvinced by the convincing logic that if Donovan knew about the alleged crimes committed in his congressional campaign, then he should be in jail. Or if he did not know about the chicanery, then he is a clueless doormat.
My guess is the truth lies somewhere in between. Donovan might have told his underlings to get money for the campaign any way they could. He didn’t want to know the details because he was too busy with his duties as speaker of the state House of Representatives. If that’s what he suggested to them, then it would essentially be an open invitation to his staff to cut corners or break the law.
What many of Donovan’s admirers don’t understand is that the tone is set at the top in any organization. If Donovan sends signals — subtle or otherwise — that the law is an inconvenience to be overcome, then the people who work for him will do it. It is simply inconceivable that Nassi, who was Donovan’s legislative chief of staff before leaving to run his congressional campaign, would be a party to this money laundering scheme if he thought his boss would be horrified by it.
Plus, this isn’t the first time Donovan has erred on the side of excess. As Dick Ahles helpfully pointed out in a column a couple days ago in The Day, there is the matter of Donovan’s arrogance in refusing to step down in a timely manner from the redistricting committee and his incredibly boneheaded attempt to reward his predecessor as speaker, James Amann, with a cushy job as his special assistant at a salary of $120,000 a year.
Donovan just makes one mistake after another. Over the years, he’s almost made as many as senate candidate Susan Bysiewicz, although in her defense, no one from her floundering campaign has been indicted.
I understand the passion Donovan’s supporters have for the man. Like the fellow he is pictured with above, Donovan was a community organizer. He was also a union official himself and believes to his core that the government needs to grow with money provided by the wealthy among us. In other words, Donovan is a staunch advocate for the causes of his followers. Indeed, he is one of them.
But at a certain point, passion must give way to reality. It was doubtful that Donovan could have won a general election in the moderate fifth district anyway, but with the stench of scandal looming over his campaign, it will be all but impossible for him to pull out a victory over state Sen. Andrew Roraback, the clean-government advocate and likely GOP nominee. Adding to Donovan’s woes, pressure is mounting for a legislative probe.
Imagine what happens if Donovan wins the Aug. 14 primary and is subsequently indicted or arrested before the Nov. 6 election. According to Democratic Party Executive Director Jonathan Harris, members of the Democratic State Central Committee from the fifth district would get together in a smoke-filled room and pick the nominee.
The Republicans will salivate over that one. Tammany Hartford, baby!