Remembering Roraback Explaining How Rowland Misled Him, Hammered Him on the Radio When Dishonest Host Was Helping Rival

Back in March of 2012, The Shad was chatting with then-candidate for Congress and state Senator Andrew Roraback about his run for the fifth district seat when he told me something fairly shocking but something he didn’t want me to report at the time. What he said—and what I eventually was the first to report—shocked most political observers and may play an important role in Rowland’s conspiracy trial that starts Wednesday.

Roraback told me that Rowland invited him to be a guest on Rowland’s afternoon drive time radio show on WTIC-AM, the 50,000 watt news-talk station to talk about the race. Roraback was competing with several other candidates in a Republican primary.

Rowland pulled a bait and switch on Roraback. Rowland told him he wanted to talk about issues facing the fifth district and Connecticut in general but instead focused solely on the topic of the death penalty. The general assembly was debating whether to repeal the state’s death penalty law. In the past, Roraback was the rare Republican to oppose the death penalty and was a potential vote for its repeal (he eventually voted against repeal). Rowland’s candidate was against the repeal and pro-death penalty.

Rowland hammered away at Roraback in the interview, asking how he could possibly support repeal of capital punishment after the stomach-turning crimes in Cheshire. After the interview concluded, Rowland gave out Roraback’s personal cell phone number, urging listeners to call him and implore him not to vote for the repeal bill.

Neither Roraback nor Rowland’s listeners knew at the time that Rowland was working for Roraback’s rival in the primary race Lisa Wilson-Foley. That relationship is now the subject of Rowland’s criminal trial.

When the Rowland – Wilson-Foley relationship came light, he claimed he was a volunteer advisor to the campaign. Turns out at the same time, he was being paid as a “consultant” to Wilson-Foley’s husband Brian who owns a chain of nursing/rehabilitation facilities. That is the crux of the latest charges against Rowland in the trial that starts Wednesday. The Foleys, who have taken a plea deal, are expected to testify Rowland did no consulting work but used that agreement to avoid reporting paid work done for Wilson-Foley’s campaign.

It appears Roraback, now a state Superior Court judge, will also be a witness in Rowland’s case. Being addressed as “Judge” in the trial, Roraback is expected to tell the same story he told The Shad that March in 2012. It should make for some interesting testimony.

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