A Hartford attorney filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday alleging that WTIC-AM 1080 violated federal communications law while they employed former governor and convicted felon John G. Rowland as a talk show host in 2012.
Attorney Ken Krayeske said he filed an informal objection to WTIC’s broadcast license renewal on the grounds that Rowland’s involvement with Lisa Wilson-Foley’s 2012 campaign constituted “covert on-air electioneering” that the stationed tacitly condoned.
WTIC’s broadcast license is currently on enforcement hold, which means the FCC has declined to grant a renewal of the license while they are investigating a possible violation by the station. WTIC can continue to broadcast until the FCC takes action on their application.
WTIC Program Director Jenneen Lee said in an email Monday that the station was unaware of any enforcement hold and could not provide more information. The FCC declined to say why the station was being investigated, but an FCC official did confirm that there was an enforcement hold on the license renewal.
“I hope the enforcement hold means where there was smoke, there was fire,” Krayeske said Wednesday in a phone interview. This is the third complaint he has filed with federal regulators since 2012 alleging criminal activity on part of WTIC and Rowland. “It’s good they’re finally taking action,” he said.
Krayeske claims that in light of Rowland’s recent conviction, there is strong evidence that the former governor and the station that employed him violated FCC regulations and campaign finance disclosure laws.
Former campaign workers testified during the trial that Rowland used his radio talk show to support Wilson-Foley’s campaign, without disclosing that he was paid a total of $35,000 by her husband’s nursing home company. WTIC also knew there was a relationship between Rowland and the campaign, but Krayeske alleges they failed to investigate it sufficiently.
“Given Mr. Rowland’s public record of mistruth and dishonesty, starting with the place of purchase of kitchen cabinets in his cottage in Litchfield, Connecticut, and culminating in his resignation from the office of Governor and his conviction on federal corruption charges, WTIC acted irresponsibly in taking Mr. Rowland at his word,” Krayeske wrote in his complaint. “The FCC should not let WTIC-1080 off with a slap on the wrist. WTIC has demonstrated serious malfeasance.”
Asked why he thought the FCC would wait to take action, Krayeske said “It is plausible that the Justice Department called the FCC and told them to lay off during the investigation.”
He speculated that now that Rowland has been convicted and witnesses have gone on record confirming his suspicions, the FCC may be more willing to move against WTIC-AM.
“I expect more comprehensive prosecution from executive branch agencies of law-breaking corporations,” Krayeske said.
In his complaint to the FCC, he references another complaint made to the Federal Election Commission in 2012.
Back in May 2012, Krayeske complained that Rowland coordinated a political attack against Wilson-Foley’s opponent, Andrew Roraback.
“It appears that the Wilson-Foley campaign and John Rowland coordinated a political attack against at least one of her opponents, Andrew Roraback, using live air time on CBS Radio Inc.’s WTIC-1080 AM’s frequency,” Krayeske’s May 2012 complaint states. “This live air time is a commodity that should have been paid for by the Wilson-Foley campaign or be listed as a contribution to the Wilson-Foley campaign.”
That same complaint mentions the fact that Rowland gave out Roraback’s cellphone number on the air to get angry listeners to call him about his position on the death penalty.
During the recent trial, Roraback testified that the callers told him Rowland was the one who asked them to call.
Chris Syrek, one of Wilson-Foley’s campaign managers, testified a few weeks ago that on Feb. 23, 2012, Rowland emailed him during the show. He was talking about the death penalty on the air and wanted Roraback’s personal phone number.
“Rohrback [sic] home phone number ? givuing [sic] out his and [Democratic Sen. Edith] Prague contact info,” Rowland emailed Syrek.
“Ha that’s awesome,” Syrek responded. “Want his cell?”
Rowland read the number on the air and asked listeners to call Roraback.
Rowland denied in a Sept. 13, 2012 handwritten letter to election regulators that he had ever given out Roraback’s cellphone number on-air.
The FEC wrote Krayeske on March 6, 2014 telling him “there is no reason to believe CBS Radio Stations, Inc. (WTIC) or John Rowland violated” election law. In that same letter, election regulators told Krayeske they closed the file on the matter.
Krayeske said Wednesday he intends to file an appeal of that decision with the FEC in the future.