Rowland Signs Off From WTIC Amid Campaign Finance Allegations
(Updated 7:29 p.m.) In the final minutes of his radio show on Thursday, former Gov. John G. Rowland announced that he was resigning from the job to attend to some “personal issues.”
The announcement came a few days after he had been implicated by Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, as they pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in federal court.
“I wanted to thank the listeners for your loyalty. It’s been a great experience,” Rowland said. “We’ll take it from there.”
He also thanked the staff at the radio station and his producer, Ryan Cosgrove, for being the “adult supervision.”
“I appreciate it very, very much and I am truly blessed,” Rowland said. His last interview before making the abrupt announcement was with David Walker, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
WTIC Program Director Jenneen Lee said in an email that she accepted “Mr. Rowland’s decision to step down at this time.” She said Pastor Will Marotti, who previously co-hosted the show with Rowland, will take over beginning on Monday.
On Friday, the station will carry the Red Sox game during the afternoon drive.
Rowland has not been charged by federal authorities and his attorney has not returned calls for comment.
According to the Courant, Rowland was named by Wilson-Foley in court Monday as the person she and her husband paid $35,000 through their business in order to avoid reporting the fee to the Federal Elections Commission.
Wilson-Foley was concerned about Rowland showing up as a paid consultant in her campaign reports because of his previous corruption conviction. Rowland spent 10 months in prison after resigning the governor’s office in 2004 and pleading guilty to the charges.
According to court documents from the Wilson-Foley case, even Rowland himself recognized that his help could be problematic if it were to be publicized.
“I am just a volunteer helping you and ‘many other Republican candidates’ in case anyone asks,” Rowland emailed Wilson-Foley in November 2011. “I want to stay under the radar as much as possible and get the job done.”
Rowland emerged from prison in 2006, but didn’t re-enter public life until 2008 when he took a job as Waterbury’s economic development director. He later landed the gig at WTIC in 2010 and over the past few years has been encouraged by his listeners to again run for public office.
As a result of Rowland’s previous corruption conviction, the state legislature in 2005 passed its landmark public campaign financing system, which went into effect in 2006. The topic came up Thursday in Rowland’s conversation with Walker, who expressed disappointment that state contractors and their employees are not allowed to donate to campaigns, while unions are not restricted from doing so.
During Thursday’s show Rowland, said the state public campaign finance system that he inspired is a “joke.”
On Tuesday, the first day Rowland was back on the air after he was implicated by Wilson-Foley and her husband, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said WTIC should take the former governor off the air.
“The reality is that we now know enough — two people have pled guilty to this charge and have identified the party they were engaged with . . . unless there’s going to be a denial and in light of two actual pleas, both identifying who the third party was, I think any reasonable outlet would remove him at this point,” he said.
Malloy, the first publicly financed candidate, called the case “deeply disappointing for the state of Connecticut.” He said it hurt public trust in the political process.
“He had the interesting position of trying to impact and influence political discourse on an afternoon radio show. That somebody would violate that trust as well, is disturbing,” he said.