It would not be illegal for Lisa Wilson-Foley to hire John Rowland, Connecticut’s former Republican governor, as a paid campaign advisor. Wilson-Foley was running as a Republican for Congress in Connecticut’s 5th district two years ago when Rowland approached Wilson-Foley – and another campaign – with a scheme to hide the fact Rowland was a paid political consultant. Was it all about perception for the campaign, and cash for Rowland?
The basic idea, as provided in the indictment – was to hide the fact – from the public, state election officials and the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) – that Rowland was a paid consultant. I’m certain FEC election law is complicated as quantum physics, but even I know it’s illegal to hide a paid political consultant. You can’t bury their payments under an accounting line named “Office Expense” and you can’t funnel cash though another business. And of course there are specific limits when it comes to how much can be donated to a campaign. Before a consultant gets paid, legal contributions need to come in to pay for that advice.
Why the heck would they do this? I guess I can speculate a little bit, with the understanding I know little about local and state political machines. For Wilson-Foley, perception was a part of the equation. Although Rowland was a friend, he also happens to be an indicted politician who resigned from office, was convicted and send to federal prison. The advice provided may have been valuable, but publicly paying for counsel would have been an opportunity for the campaign’s opponents to make hay of the arrangement for weeks.
The Wilson-Foley campaign may have also been encouraged by Rowland’s position at WTIC 1080. Not only could he have “guided” listeners to vote Wilson-Foley in the main election (totally expected), Rowland could have also gave favorable coverage during the primary process.
I guess you could look back to see if Rowland provided favorable coverage for Wilson-Foley, but if he did, it did not help. Maybe the Foley/Wilson-Foley duo felt pressure from Rowland? The indictment certainly indicates Rowland was first pressuring another candidate, Mark Greenberg, to hire him, but pay him through an animal shelter Greenberg was associated with. Greenberg was not interested.
Rowland moved on, telling Wilson-Foley Greenberg did want to hire him using a payment scheme he suggested, but he’d much rather work for Wilson-Foley. It would provide a better cover for Rowland and Foley/Wilson-Foley since they could run the payment through Foley’s large healthcare company, Apple Rehab. But even that was too close. They went with an attorney associated with Foley’s company.
For Rowland, I think it was about flexing muscle within the Connecticut GOP, power, influence, and of course cash. Rowland obviously wanted to get “back in” to the game, and with Wilson-Foley in Congress, he would be back in Congress by proxy. I’m not sure if it would have been a violation of Rowland’s deal with WTIC 1080 to be a paid political consultant, but my guess is it would have been a big problem.
What do you say about a guy – under a microscope in this state – who is stupid enough put this scheme together? What do you say about his friends who went along with it, and who willingly paid Rowland thousands of dollars for political advice using a technique they know was illegal? What about the attorneys who went along with all of this?
I go back to my question from paragraph three. Why the heck would they do this? All for a Connecticut congressional seat that pays less than $200,000 per year?
Oh yeah… the answer is power and influence, and it’s all directly related to my Symptom of the Disease series if you think about it. My series is almost exclusive to problems in federal government since that is what I write about, but it happens at the state level too. I really do believe that if you provide any government with more than absolutely necessary power, this kind of stuff will happen. I guaranty it will continue to happen.