The race for the open congressional seat in Connecticut’s fifth district is clearly the most competitive race for Congress in this election cycle. There have already been some strange aspects to it particularly on the Republican side.
Businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley, who failed in a bid for lieutenant governor in the last statewide election, has seen fit to enlist convicted former Gov. John Rowland as an “advisor.” Back on February 28th, I emailed Wilson-Foley spokesman and strategist Chris Healy asking for some information on just what Rowland’s role would be. The former GOP party chair wrote back, “Gov. Rowland has offered advice to Lisa and has been supportive of her candidacy.”
It seems the former governor is doing more than that. Political blogger Kevin Rennie reveals that Rowland is actively contacting elected officials on Wilson-Foley’s behalf.
This should be raising red flags with Rowland current employer, WTIC-AM radio where he hosts an afternoon talk show. When it was first disclosed that Rowland was “providing advice” to Wilson-Foley, I email the station’s program director, Rowland’s producer and Rowland himself asking if Rowland would disclose to his listeners his role in the campaign. None answered which is odd because I know them all as the former guest host for Colin McEnroe when he hosted the time slot.
(For what it’s worth, when I hosted the show, I was also the communications director for the state Senate Democrats—a fact I routinely disclosed when interviewing or discussing officials I had any dealings with. I continue to do that on The Hanging Shad.)
Media expert and director of the graduate journalism program at Quinnipiac University Rich Hanley says Rowland is walking a very fine line. “At the very least, he [Rowland] should disclose his role in the race whenever he talks about it. There is nothing illegal about what he is doing,” Hanley said, “but there are certainly ethical questions for him and the radio station.”
Bottom line: Rowland, Healy and Wilson-Foley herself should disclose the exact nature of the former governor’s role in the campaign. And he should disclose it every time he talks about the fifth district race. Let’s see if that happens. I wouldn’t hold my breath.