“It’s not what you know that hurts you, It’s what you know that ain’t so” — Will Rogers
At this point in the FBI Donovan “sting” operation, what is not known is paramount – including whether the operation was a sting operation. Stories involving corrupt politicians have reporters and editors reaching for their adjectives: “In an apparentsting operation…”
In order to persuade a judge to issue a warrant for arrest, those seeking the arrest – in this case, FBI agents – must first present an affidavit containing information that certainly would be of interest to news editors and commentators. The assertions made in affidavits contain certifiable information on the basis of which an arrest is made, and these assertions, partly edited, soon find their way into news stories. The affidavit information may or may not be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth For the purpose of launching an initial story, it is presumed to be reliable by many reporters and editors.
Consider the identity of CC1, noted in the affidavit securing the arrest of fired finance director Robert Braddock, part of whose business it was to haul in contributions for the 5th District U.S.House campaign of present Speaker of the State House of Representatives Chris Donovan. Co-Conspirator 1 is not identified by name in the affidavit, nor are CC2 or CC3, identified as Co-Conspirators 2 and 3 in the affidavit.
In the news business, information flows into a story, once it finds its way into print, from a variety of sources, some more reliable than others. Then too, reporters and editors are supremely conscious of “changes in the force” when a major tremor such as the firing of a finance director shakes the political universe. The name of CC1, still unconfirmed by the FBI, surfaced following a) the appearance of the initial story, b) the identification of CC1 by reliable sources as Ray Soucy, a correction officer and labor union official politically active in Democratic Party politics, and c) the decoupling of Mr. Soucy from his union responsibilities.
The union official who showed Mr. Soucy the door did so because he had become a possible witness in a possible criminal case that involved his participation in corrupt activity.
In the FBI affidavit, Mr. Soucy is the proverbial cooperative co-conspirator; which is to say, he is cooperating with the FBI investigation by serving as a plant in the putative (note the adjective) “sting” (note the quote marks) operation. Someone prompted Mr. Soucy to ask compromising questions of Mr. Braddock, which are then recorded for use in an FBI affidavit, certainly seems to be a “singing canary” in a“sting” operation. Here, of course, we bump into Will Rogers’ admonition.
What prompted the canary’s song? Was it an injured conscience? A sudden resolution to rout all campaign contributors who play fast and loose with campaign financing law? Or was the canary’s participation in the possible sting operation necessitated by a threat of prosecution? At this moment, we don’t know it’s so, and we don’t know it ain’t so. But if it lives in a cage and eats FBI seeds and sings like a canary, it’s probably a canary.
What initially prompted the FBI investigation? Did the FBI detect an odor of corruption arising from Speaker Donovan’s office before Mr. Soucy was recruited to pass along to Mr. Donovan’s former finance director about $20,000 said to have been contributed by an investor hoping to persuade Mr. Donovan to kill state legislation that would have imposed a $5,250 yearly licensing fee and higher taxes on owners of roll-your-own tobacco shops?
Is it plausible that Mr. Donovan was unaware that a major contributor was dumping $20,000 into his campaign kitty for the U.S. House seat soon to be vacated by U.S. Rep Chris Murphy. No whiff of the $20,000 campaign contribution was detected by Mr. Donovan, says the strangely detached Mr. Donovan. What bunnies are clamoring around in FBI hats longing to be pulled out by the ears? Does the FBI have a case against the Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. Congress? Are leading Democrats in the state right in assuming, following Mr. Donovan’s public mea culpa, that there is no fire in the FBI smoke?
“There’s no fishing expeditions in corruption cases,” said former special FBI agent Mike Clark in a phone interview with Hugh McQuade of CTNewsJunkie “There’s always some type of predicative offense or allegation out there to bring the attention of investigators.”
Mr. Clark is well known in the state as the special agent who helped to secure convictions in corruption cases involving former Gov. John G. Rowland, former state Treasurer Paul Silvester and former Waterbury Mayors Joe Santopietro and Philip Giordano.