There’s a lesson to be learned in the latest federal pinch of John Rowland: if you’re doing consulting work for a political campaign, make sure it appears on the candidate’s campaign filing. The bottom line of Rowland’s latest pinch by the federals, if a jury is to believe the charges, is that Rowland, Lisa Wilson-Foley, the candidate he allegedly provided political consulting work for in her 2012 congressional run and Wilson-Foley’s husband, did not want disclosure of Rowland’s work on her federal campaign finance filing.
Why? They feared the campaign would be fodder for criticism from opponents. She has that felonious so and so advising her, yadda, yadda, yadda.
So they concocted a scheme, according to the government. Instead of the campaign paying Rowland, Wilson-Foley’s hubby would compensate him as consultant out of his company account. Rowland provides consultation, Rowland gets paid, the campaign doesn’t report it. Problem is, the feds have laws against that sort of thing.
So now it becomes one gigantic felonious mess. If they had simply disclosed what he was doing for the campaign there’s no law enforcement issue.
There’s a simple response to the criticism of Rowland doing legitimate campaign consultation. “The former governor dealt with his issues, did his time, turned his life around and has become a great comeback story.” People like comeback stories, maybe because many of us have had to come back from places we wish we weren’t.
Rowland, in fact, had rebuilt credibility in some circles hosting a radio show on WTIC and previously performed economic development work for his beloved Waterbury. There had been nine years of distance from the 10 months he served in the joint for using his public position to enrich himself.
Some wimpy campaign operatives and candidates obsess over the potential baggage advisors bring to a campaign. That apparently was done in the Rowland case. Most voters don’t give a politician’s petunia who’s working on a candidate’s campaign. Voters focus on the candidate, how the candidate communicates with them, how the candidate will govern. Most electors vote on the future, not the past. They understand politics is not terrain for boy scouts.
Rowland says he will fight the charges. The Wilson-Foleys have been charged with federal misdemeanors and will testify against Rowland if the case goes to trial. Rowland’s lawyer will need to convince a jury that his client did legitimate consulting work for Wilson-Foley’s company and did not scheme to violate campaign finance regulations. What did Rowland do for the company and did it justify the $35,000 fee he received?