Rowlandology, a Beginner’s Guide

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Image from Flickr. Used by permission of Carmen Anthony's.

First things first. Here’s today’s column.

K-Dawg wrote on the same subject.

Lender wrote about Rowland’s pension.

Why all the fuss? Who do reporters and columnists keep working this guy over?  He did his time, right?  I hear that a lot.

The other thing I hear is a variation on “He took a hot tub and some kitchen cabinets. Big deal.” That’s how the scandal is understood in collective memory. Even a recent Courant article condemning him contained that notion — that Rowland went to prison for taking gifts from favor-seekers.

That’s not quite right. It’s on the order of calling Watergate “a third-rate burglary.”  With this in mind, I’m going to paste at the bottom of this post the stipulation Rowland made (and signed) at the time of sentencing. The statement links Rowland’s criminal conspiracy to the construction of CJTS. That building cost $57 million and was eventually closed by Gov. Rell because it was unusable. One thing I say to conservatives who defend Rowland is: how can you complain about government waste and then wink at $57 million? Also mentioned in Rowland’s stipulation is a Bradley airport parking garage. These were big projects. Honest businessmen could not compete for them, because they were awarded within a system that prized cronyism above all else.

The stipulation is a  quick read. It takes a little longer to go through the House Select Committee report, which comprises a lot of sworn testimony, much of it dealing with additional areas of malfeasance, including Rowland’s unusual relationship with Robert Matthews.

The committee’s report is incomplete, because Rowland resigned from office in the heat of its fact-finding. To have stayed in office any longer would have meant that the governor and his wife would have been forced to testify under oath before the select committee, something they were loath to do. People may have forgotten that Rowland took this all the way to the Supreme Court.  Rowland has never answered and never will answer a full menu of questions about what he did. He resigned from office rather than do it, and he plead guilty to the feds rather than do it. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Frost-Nixon interviews on this one. (But I’m available and can fake a British accent.)

The withholding of evidence was one of the hallmarks of that administration. One ongoing sore point with me (and the JI’s Chris Powell) is the case of Anne Rapkin, a state employee who tried to speak up about the practice of relaxing or ignoring environmental laws under Rowland’s DEP chiefs. This case wound up spiraling all over the place and cost taxpayers insane amounts of money. This Jacklin column gives you  only the tip of that iceberg — because there were more iterations to come — but it mentions the thing that drove Powell and me nuts. As part of her settlement Rapkin was gagged. She had to promise not to criticize state officials any more. Think about that. Your taxpayer dollars were used to pay a state employee so that she would never tell us things we probably deserve to know about how our own government was operating.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Maybe the preceding will help you understand why we keep writing about this. Part of the problem is that none of us feel we ever learned the whole story. It was so huge and so well-concealed that we wound up breaking off only manageable parts of it.  Beyond that, it has been vexing to see Rowland leave prison and immediately get a lucrative job in exactly the sector (government-driven economic development)he defiled, like making Willie Sutton a bank manager. And it is galling now to hear him on the radio preaching good government when all of his previous contributions have been to the worst government imaginable.

That’s all. But below is the promised stipulation.

The defendant John G. Rowland and the Government stipulate and agree to the following
offense conduct that gives rise to the defendant’s agreement to plead guilty to the information:
1. John G. Rowland was the Governor of the State of Connecticut from approximately
January 1995 through June 2004.
2. As Governor of the State of Connecticut, John G. Rowland was an elected official
who held a high-level decision-making and sensitive position.
3. From approximately October 1997 and continuing through approximately October
2003, in the District of Connecticut and elsewhere, defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND, together
with Peter N. Ellef; William A. Tomasso, Tomasso Brothers, Inc. and Tunxis Management Co.
(hereinafter collectively referred to as “Tomasso and related entities”); Lawrence Alibozek and
other persons, known and unknown to the United States Attorney’s Office, did unlawfully and
knowingly combine, conspire, confederate and agree with each other to commit certain offenses
against the United States as follows:
(a) devise and participate in a scheme and artifice to deprive the State of Connecticut and
its citizens of the intangible right to the honest services of its Governor, the defendant JOHN G.
ROWLAND, and of public officials Peter N. Ellef, Lawrence Alibozek and others, and to have
those services performed free from deceit, favoritism, bias, conflict of interest and self
enrichment, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, 1346;
(b) willfully and knowingly defraud the United States for the purpose of impeding,
impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful Government functions of the Internal Revenue
Service of the Treasury Department in the ascertainment, computation, assessment and collection
of the revenue, that is, income taxes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.
4. Between approximately January 1998 and December 2001, defendant John G.
Rowland accepted things of value or gratuities for, because of and in connection with the
business of the State of Connecticut. As described below, defendant John G. Rowland received
more than one gratuity for because of and in connection with the business of the State of
(a) Between in or about February 1998 and February 2002, defendant JOHN G.
ROWLAND vacationed alone with his family at no charge approximately three times at
the Vermont home of Tomasso and related entities.
(b) In approximately May 1998, Tomasso and related entities performed construction
work at no charge at the Bantam Lake cottage of defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND.
(c) On approximately November 22, 1998, defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND learned that
Peter N. Ellef, Lawrence Alibozek and other state officials traveled to Ohio with
Tomasso and related entities to view models for the Connecticut Juvenile Training
School (“CJTS”). Despite having learned that Tomasso and related entities had
inappropriately received confidential and inside information about the CJTS project,
defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND took no corrective action.
(d) On approximately December 15, 1998, defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND received a
memorandum outlining that Tomasso and related entities were performing renovation
work at Long Lane School (“LLS”) in Middletown, Connecticut. In approximately
January 1999, defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND gave his consent as Governor of
Connecticut for DPW to enter, without competitive bidding, into a contract in excess of
$250,000 with Tunxis Management Co. to renovate LLS, under which contract DPW
paid Tunxis Management Co. approximately $2.1 million.
(e) In approximately March 1999, defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND and with his wife
vacationed alone at the Florida home of Tomasso and related entities and knowingly paid
only a nominal amount for the seven-day stay.
(f) In approximately May 1999, Peter N. Ellef and Lawrence Alibozek, together with
Tomasso and related entities, arranged and paid for the installation of a heating system at
the Bantam Lake cottage.
(g) In approximately February 2000, defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND directed the
commissioner of DOT to sign a lease agreement concerning the construction and
operation of the Bradley Airport parking garage, which agreement was to benefit
Tomasso and related entities.
(h) Between approximately January 1998 and December 2000, defendant JOHN G.
ROWLAND approved bond agendas for, voted affirmatively as a member of the bond
commission for, and subsequently allocated monies to projects which benefitted the
financial interests of Tomasso and related entities.
(i) Between approximately April 1999 and November 2000, defendant JOHN G.
ROWLAND took personal trips to Las Vegas and Philadelphia at no charge on private
chartered planes provided by Entity A.
(j) Between approximately August 2001 and February 2002, a representative of Entity A
met with and requested that defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND advocate a change in the
State of Connecticut’s tax legislation which benefitted Entity A.
(k) In approximately October 2001, Peter N. Ellef directed DRS to include a tax
exemption which benefitted Entity A in DRS’s 2002 legislative proposals.
(l) In approximately January 2002, defendant JOHN G. ROWLAND approved as part of
the Governor’s Budget a retroactive tax exemption which benefitted only Entity A.
5. The above things of value total $107,042.69, which consists of $15,549.00 from
Tomasso and related entities and $91,493.69 from Entity A, all of which represents unreported
income for the tax years 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. As a result, defendant JOHN G.
ROWLAND has a tax plus interest due and owing of $35,459.25.
The written stipulation above is incorporated into the preceding plea agreement. It is
understood, however, that the defendant and the Government reserve their right to present
additional relevant offense conduct to the attention of the Court in connection with sentencing.


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6 thoughts on “Rowlandology, a Beginner’s Guide

  1. Richard

    Most of Rowland’s critics fall down the slippery slope of “Rowland stole and causes cancer”.

    How the absence of Rowland induces phantasmagorias of idyllic government under benevolent Democratic rule is a question for science to answer

  2. Richard

    Rowland hired some interesting people…..

    Lisa A. Thiesfield was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison for her role in the state treasury scandal.

    Ms. Thiesfield, 33, of Hartford, the former mistress and campaign manager of former Treasurer Paul J. Silvester, pleaded guilty in September 2003 to participating in a corrupt payment to Mr. Silvester by accepting a $1 million contract with Triumph Capital, a Boston investment firm.

    Mr. Silvester, an appointee of Gov. John G. Rowland, gave Triumph management of a $200 million state pension fund.

  3. Pam

    Thank you. It’s so easy to be honest if you want to — but so hard to draw the line when you’re trying to be dishonest.

  4. Tanya Castiglione

    Thanks for this column. Your reference to the “third rate burglary” characterization of Watergate is spot on. Rowland’s corruption was essentially a crime of betrayal of the people of Connecticut. And we should not forget that or gloss over it.

  5. Stu Pedassel

    Rowland is a pompous, shameless crook. He should still be in jail.

    That WTIC allows him to host a radio program for half the waking day, with his inconsequential sidekick for religious credibility, the Reverend (?) Will Marotti, is an unbelievable waste of air time.

    He is a crook.

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