The liberal group Media Matters for America is questioning the ethics of ex-governor John Rowland and WTIC 1080 AM, the radio station that employs him as an afternoon talk-show host.
The ethical questions raised in the group\’s online article surround Rowland\’s $30,000 consulting contract in 2011 and 2012 with a nursing-home business owned by the husband of a Republican congressional candidate, Lisa Wilson-Foley — whose campaign, at the time, said that Rowland was assisting her on a volunteer basis.
However, a federal grand jury is investigating an allegation that Rowland\’s consulting arrangement with Wilson-Foley\’s husband, Brian Foley, was really an improper means of compensating Rowland for his assistance on Wilson-Foley\’s ultimately unsuccessful 2012 campaign in the 5th Congressional District. Rowland spent 10 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in December 2004 to corruption in office.
The Media Matters article blasts both Rowland and WTIC over the radio host\’s on-air criticism of one of Wilson-Foley\’s opponents during that campaign, eventual Republican nominee Andrew Roraback, without disclosing to his listeners that he was being paid by Wilson-Foley\’s husband\’s chain of nursing homes.
\”If in fact he\’s on the payroll for a candidate or a political cause and is not disclosing that, he is misusing the public trust by using a radio station to advocate for a candidate or a position there,\” Harvey Jassem, communications professor at the University of Hartford, says in the article.
\”That\’s, in my view, unethical. Part of the issue here is the radio station itself, which appears to be a mouthpiece for the Republican Part,\” Jassem is quoted as saying. \”He is entitled to promote his point of view, but if he is taking money to favor one cause or candidate over another then he has a responsibility to share his incentives, that he could be personally profiting from the public trust of public airwaves.\”
\”It certainly is an issue to have a host who had political connections in a way that were not public to continue to host,\” Richard F. Hanley, director of the Graduate Program in Journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, says in the article. \”It is up to CBS Radio to make these decisions to keep him a host or have him clarify his political consultancy to keep him on the air, and let the audience decide if there is a personal ideology to the guests and the audience.\”
The article says that WTIC did not respond to requests for comment and Rowland could not be reached.
The Courant reported in Thursday\’s editions that Foley, the owner of Apple Rehab, has been cooperating with federal prosecutors, and has agreed, among other things, to testify about his arrangement with Rowland if the U.S. Attorney ultimately decides to make a case for federal campaign reporting violations, according to sources.