Former Gov. John G. Rowland came recommended by Tom Foley’s campaign manager in a 2011 email to congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley.
The email between Justin Clark and Wilson-Foley was used as evidence Tuesday during Rowland’s campaign corruption trial. Rowland’s facing charges he conspired to do campaign work for two congressional campaigns while keeping his involvement hidden from election regulators.
Foley, the current and 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee, was mentioned several times during the trial Tuesday. In an email presented as evidence, Clark recommended Rowland to Wilson-Foley as the first among several people who could be helpful to her campaign.
“I’m sure you have talked to him about running before but this is his neck of the woods [sic] might provide good insight,” Clark wrote.
In another email, Rowland claims to have spoken to Foley in 2010. The former governor had emailed the husband of then-lieutenant governor candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley. Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, are not related to Tom Foley.
“I had a long chat with Tom Foley he’s going to throw everything they can behind Lisa, support, volunteers etc. Let me know how they are doing. They need her to win in Nov,” Rowland wrote.
Foley’s mention during the corruption trial prompted a press release from Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign.
“This matches previous reports that Governor Rowland was an advisor to Tom Foley’s campaign in 2010,” Malloy spokesman Mark Bergman wrote. “If Tom Foley thought Rowland’s advice was an asset in 2010 and then recommended Rowland to Wilson-Foley, did Tom Foley ever pay Rowland or have anyone else on his behalf pay Rowland for his “expert” political advice?”
Tom Foley’s campaign spokesman said Rowland was never paid by the Foley campaign for his advice.
“It wouldn’t take a genius to know, and you wouldn’t expect to be paid to tell someone that John Rowland knew something about politics in his former house district,” Mark McNulty, Foley’s campaign spokesman, said Tuesday. “Neither Tom Foley nor Justin Clark ever paid for advice from John Rowland nor were they paid to provide advice to Lisa Wilson-Foley’s campaign.”
Chris Covucci, Tom Foley’s state field director in 2010, also came recommended by Clark. Covucci also worked for the Connecticut Policy Institute, a think tank founded by Foley after the 2010 election. Covucci said the group started out as a PAC, but grew into a think tank.
Wilson-Foley eventually hired Covucci as her campaign manager. However, he testified that he quickly left the campaign after he was informed of the arrangement with Rowland.
“I was troubled by it. These rules are not something to mess around with. The FEC takes them very seriously and the federal government takes them very seriously,” he said. “I was very uncomfortable with what she had told me. That week I started looking for a new position.”
Covucci testified that as campaign manager, he felt as if he was working under Rowland in the hierarchy of the campaign.
Rowland “was functioning more in the role you would see a general consultant in. A general consultant would be managing a campaign manager,” he said. “John Rowland and [former state Republican Chairman] Chris Healy had the majority of the authority.”