The Hartford Courant is seeking a federal court’s permission to intervene to unseal documents in a sentencing dispute involving former Gov. John G. Rowland.
Rowland was convicted back in September for conspiring to do work on two Republican congressional campaigns and keep his pay hidden from federal election regulators. His sentencing and that of his co-conspirator has been postponed indefinitely.
Alan Neigher, an attorney representing the Hartford Courant, wants to unseal an affidavit from an attorney representing Lisa Wilson-Foley, one of the congressional candidates at the center of the conspiracy. The affidavit filed under seal by Robinson & Cole’s Craig Raabe was entered earlier this month.
Raabe’s sealed affidavit and a memo from Postal Inspector Bernard Feeley, which the Courant is also seeking to unseal, are being held up as part of a claim by Rowland’s defense attorneys, who argue the government withheld evidence crucial to their case.
Raabe, wrote in court documents last week that Wilson-Foley has never deviated from her recollection that her husband, Brian Foley, hired Rowland to work for his nursing home chain. The understanding between Foley, Rowland and Wilson-Foley, according to the government and 12 days of testimony in September, was that Rowland would work on Wilson-Foley’s campaign and get paid through Foley’s nursing home chain so his work wouldn’t show up on Federal Election Commission reports.
In her sentencing memo on Dec. 29, 2014, Wilson-Foley said she “advised the government before Mr. Rowland’s trial that she did not believe in September 2011 that the sole purpose of her husband hiring Mr. Rowland was subterfuge— and such truthful testimony from Ms. Wilson- Foley would not fit the government’s singular, black and white theory against Mr. Rowland.”
In court documents last week, Raabe wrote that “Wilson-Foley’s position and her and her counsel’s statements to the Government have been consistent.”
Rowland’s attorneys have latched onto that argument and hope to prove to a judge during the sentencing phase that “there was no conspiracy and that any illicit intent was secreted in Mr. Foley’s mind.”
Neigher, the Courant’s attorney, argues the public and the press have a right to know what’s in that affidavit and interview and the only party objecting to that at the moment is the government.
“There is no compelling interest sufficient to overcome the press’ and the public’s First Amendment and common-law rights of access to those records,” Neigher wrote in court documents.
Neigher pointed out that “Rowland’s trial has concluded; Rowland was convicted by a jury, and Ms. Wilson-Foley has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The access sought here it to the Affidavit of a respected member of the Connecticut Bar who has disputed The Government’s assertion that statements made in Lisa Wilson-Foley’s sentencing Memorandum dated Dec. 29, 2014 did not occur.”
The government denies hearing Wilson-Foley or Raabe make those statements about the relationship her husband entered with Rowland, according to Neigher’s motion.
“The government’s denial of Ms. Wilson-Foley’s statements is now a basis for the Court’s inquiry into the assertion that ‘Ms. Wilson-Foley never made such statements and is now dissembling in connection with her sentencing’,” Neigher wrote.
Responses to the Hartford Courant’s motion to unseal the affidavit and the interview are due to the court by Jan. 27.