As 5th District Republican candidate Mike Clark prepares to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over former Gov. John Rowland\’s role with the campaign of rival Lisa Wilson-Foley, other Republican candidates are also chiming in.
Meanwhile state Republican party Chairman Jerry Labriola said he wants to meet with the Wilson-Foley campaign soon to discuss the matter. \” I intend to have a discussion with Lisa\’s campaign in the next day or two to get a fuller understanding of the matter,\’\’ he said this afternoon.
State Sen. Andrew Roraback, who is also seeking the open 5th District seat, wrote a letter to Wilson-Foley asking her to publicly address the issue.
\”I am writing to ask you to make yourself available to the press and the public as soon as possible to answer any and all questions relating to the role John Rowland has played in the business you and your husband own and in this campaign,\’\’ Roraback wrote. \”Your willingness to do this will ensure openness and transparency and enable the campaign to return to discussing the challenges facing our country.\”
Clark drafted his FEC complaint after revelations, first reported by Journal Register Company\’s Jordan Fenster, that Rowland, who resigned amid a corruption investigation in 2004, served 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to a felony and now hosts a radio show, was receiving payment from a business owned by Wilson-Foley\’s husband, Brian Foley.
Fenster also reported that another candidate in the crowded GOP field, Mark Greenberg, was approached by Rowland about a consulting gig, as long as he was paid through Greenberg\’s not-for-profit animal shelter.
Clark, a former FBI agent who was part of the investigative team that put Rowland in prison on corruption charges, said his complaint was prompted by a desire to ensure that campaign finance rules emphasizing transparency are being followed by all the campaigns.
\”Everyone has to follow the same rules. Otherwise the system will be corrupted,\’\’ Clark said. \”I\’m not doing this for a political reason, I\’m doing this because it needs to be looked at…I\’m a huge believer in the rule of law…our Democratic system is based on those principles.\”
Clark said he spoke with Greenberg earlier this week. \”Rowland was going to provide political consulting services but be paid through a non-profit. That kind of speaks for itself.\”
Another Republican in the race, Afghanistan war veteran Justin Bernier, also raised issues about former governor\’s role. \”Republicans must be the party of truth and transparency — not the party of payoffs,\’\’ he said in an email. \”Every campaign has a moral and legal responsibility to report who is being paid on their campaign.\”
Rowland, who once held the 5th District seat himself, has championed Wilson-Foley\’s candidacy in a number of ways. He has phoned delegates to help line up support for her and has hosted at least one fundraiser on her behalf (Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of a home invasion in Cheshire, was the featured guest.) A source said the former governor, who hails from Waterbury, was instrumental in securing backing for Wilson-Foley from key Republicans in both Middlebury and Danbury.
Rowland has been openly critical of Roraback on the air, hammering the state senator for his past support of abolishing capital punishment.
Calls to WTIC and Brian Foley seeking comment were not returned and Wilson-Foley\’s adviser, Chris Healy, could not be reached for comment.
Scott Will, Bernier\’s campaign manager, noted that Rowland had invited Bernier on his show several times in the past but the invitations have since stopped.
\”Justin was invited on the show regularly in the summer and fall of 2011, but since Gov. Rowland started working for Lisa Wilson-Foley, he has not been asked to appear.\”
The exact nature of Rowland\’s work for Brian Foley\’s company was not disclosed. If he were consulting for the campaign but being paid by Foley\’s business for that work, that could constitute a violation of campaign finance law.
Clark said he harbors no ill feelings toward Rowland, who served 10 months in federal prison. \”I\’m going to be painted as doing this as a personal vendetta but he paid his price, he served his time and he has the right to make a living.\’\’
But, Clark, added, \”there are rules that need to be followed. That\’s what I\’m hoping the FEC will take a look at.\”