(Updated 4:11 p.m.) WTIC 1080 AM allowed former Gov. John G. Rowland to go back on the air Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that “any reasonable outlet” would remove him.
Opening day of the 2014 baseball season spared the radio station from having to respond to questions about their drive time radio host on Monday, but by Tuesday there was no hiding from the news media inquiries regarding Rowland’s status.
In a brief email, Jenneen Lee, program director at the station, said that “We have spoken with Mr. Rowland and his representatives and are monitoring the situation closely. Mr. Rowland is expected back on the air this afternoon.”
Sitting behind glass in the WTIC radio station in Farmington, Rowland sat and chatted with Lee as he waited to go live on the 50,000 watt station. Outside in the lobby were three television cameras and one reporter waiting to see if he would offer any insight into his current predicament.
WTNH’s Mark Davis texted him and asked if he wanted to comment on the latest allegations in the federal probe. Rowland’s response: “No.”
When he went on the air following his theme song “Only in America,” he acknowledged the federal investigation by saying “I won’t be discussing the recent news and legal developments.”
“I’m sure you all understand. I want to respect the process,” he said.
He moved directly to his guest line up for the day. The show went on to talk about the Affordable Care Act deadline.
Lee declined to comment further and it’s unclear exactly how Rowland’s contract with the radio station is worded.
Former 5th Congressional District candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to illegally paying Rowland $35,000 in campaign consulting fees. The $35,000 was paid to Rowland through Apple Rehab Center, rather than through the campaign.
Court documents show that Wilson-Foley was concerned about Rowland’s previous corruption conviction and worried it may look bad if the former governor was on the campaign’s public payroll.
Asked about the issue at an unrelated press conference, Malloy said “we all knew this was coming.” Without using Rowland’s name, Malloy said WTIC should take the former governor off the air.
“The reality is that we now know enough — two people have pled guilty to this charge and have identified the party they were engaged with . . . unless there’s going to be a denial and in light of two actual pleas, both identifying who the third party was, I think any reasonable outlet would remove him at this point,” he said.
Malloy called the case “deeply disappointing for the state of Connecticut.” He said it hurt public trust in the political process.
“He had the interesting position of trying to impact and influence political discourse on an afternoon radio show. That somebody would violate that trust as well, is disturbing,” he said.
Nine years ago today, Rowland entered the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania to serve a 10 month sentence on corruption charges.