The curtain falls on one of the sorriest incidents in recent Connecticut political history with the sentencing this week of the last of eight defendants in a campaign finance scandal.
Paul Rogers, co-owner of a Waterbury smoke shop, was given six months in prison in federal court on Wednesday. It was an appropriate sentence, even considering his cooperation with authorities in the case.
The disgraceful business involved roll-your-own cigarette shops. Though the shops had machines that rolled cigarettes, they were exempt from the state's heavy tax on manufactured cigarettes and thus could undercut the competition. When a bill was proposed to close this loophole, Mr. Rogers, his business partner, a union official and others hoped to persuade then Connecticut Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan to kill the bill.
They illegally disguised the source of some $27,500 in campaign contributions and steered the cash to Mr. Donovan's congressional campaign.
The FBI found out, and the scandal cost Mr. Donovan dearly. He says he knew nothing of the scheme and he was not charged. But he lost his bid for the 5th District congressional seat to now-Rep. Elizabeth Esty in a primary. The roll-your-own bill, originally voted down, was later resurrected and passed.
Given Mr. Rogers' role in the corruption, he's lucky he won't see more jail time.
His sentence was light because he helped with the federal probe. In the words of Judge Janet Bond Arterton, he "provided exceptional assistance to the government" in the case.
Six others in the scheme were given jail sentences as well. Former union official Raymond Soucy received no jail time because of his "extraordinary cooperation" (he wore the wire) and ill health.
Thus ends this sorry mess. The take-home lesson for those who would try to corrupt the system is: In all likelihood, you're going to get caught and prosecuted. Corruption doesn't pay.
Those both in and out of the state legislature should take heed.Copyright © 2015, CT Now