I first met John Rowland in 1988 when he was a congressman from Connecticut’s 5th district and I was a fresh-out-of college radio reporter in Danbury. He was impressive—smooth, engaging, smart and media savvy.
In 1990, I was among the media members who “roasted” Rowland at a special event following his loss to Lowell Weicker in his first race for governor. He was a good sport, taking a bit of beating from smart-ass journalists.
I was always friendly with Rowland when he became governor and I was working for the opposition as the communications director for the Senate Democrats. He hated my predecessor Roy Occhiogrosso (he of the successful Dan Malloy campaign) but we got along just fine. In fact, in an email exchange after he got his radio gig, I wished him well.
His radio show quickly became a platform for the Republican Party. He and Rev. Will Marotti wouldn’t have anyone on as guests that might challenge them. At best, the show was dishonest, at worst, they purposely lied to the listeners. I lost respect for Rowland (I never had any for Marotti) and it only got worse.
His fall from grace is well documented culminating with Friday’s guilty verdict. The former three-term governor was convicted on seven counts related to election fraud. My thoughts:
• I was not surprised by the verdict. I was surprised Rowland would get himself in this jackpot in the first place. I thought he was smarter than this.
• I am monumentally offended that Rowland used his radio show on WTIC-AM to further his own financial interests. I spent 10 years in radio and later, was honored to frequently guest host on WTIC in the same time slot Rowland later occupied. What he did with his show was abhorrent. ‘TIC has wonderful professionals working there who take pride in what they do. Rowland made a mockery of them. He owes them and his listeners an apology for being such a fraud.
• At times, I became angered by the constant “it’s so sad” stories about Rowland. He knew what he was doing. The guy essentially skated in his first case of corruption in 2004 serving less than a year in the hoosegow for far more serious activities than this latest case.
• Rowland was the beneficiary of a sympathetic judge back then in Peter Dorsey who sentenced him to a year and a day—that extra day made Rowland eligible to accrue good behavior time and get out early. Sadly, “Peter C. Dorsey of Federal District Court, explained that he had been influenced by Mr. Rowland’s statements of contrition and the idea that the onetime political star had already suffered some by leaving his office in disgrace,” wrote the New York Times.
Rowland probably won’t be so lucky this time around. Judge Janet B. Arterton has a reputation for being as hard on those guilty of political corruption as Dorsey was soft. She slapped the players in the Chris Donovan campaign case with substantial sentences. Rowland may be in for a long stretch in the pokey.