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Prevailing political chutzpah
If You Ask Me
“People don’t care about the nitty-gritty of politics.”
That was Congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley’s way of dismissing reports that a federal criminal investigation of her campaign is under way.
But Ms. Wilson-Foley’s theory depends upon the scope of the nitty and also the gritty. And when the nitty is a federal investigation involving a Republican candidate for Congress and the gritty, a federal investigation of a Democratic candidate for Congress, and both of these statesmen are running for the same office, people care.
They even find the nitty-gritty more compelling than the candidates’ oft repeated mantras that they are fighting for us when they are not working as job creators. (If all the candidates who are job creators were laid end to end, it would be better than having them running for office, but I digress.)
The 5th Congressional District race for the seat left open by the departure of the incumbent Chris Murphy promised to be interesting, but not this interesting, with corruption raising its head in two of the seven campaigns.
First, Democrat Chris Donovan’s finance chairman was arrested and his campaign chairman was fired when the finance guy allegedly took contributions from FBI agents posing as businessmen interested in defeating a bill before the House of Representatives, which Donovan led as speaker.
Then, it was revealed a grand jury was investigating former governor John Rowland’s relationship with the Wilson-Foley campaign, which he allegedly served as a paid consultant or volunteer while attacking her opponents on his radio show. The payments were paid by a company run by the candidate’s husband.
The candidates deny everything, but the scandals may take down Wilson-Foley, who failed to win the party’s endorsement but is in the primary, and Donovan, who was once a favorite to win the Democratic nomination and therefore the election in a state with no Republicans in Congress.
Also in danger of being taken down is former governor and convicted felon turned radio bloviator Rowland, which doesn’t matter, and the iconic radio station, WTIC, which does.
Rowland is being investigated for his political dealings with the family businesses and campaign of Wilson-Foley while commenting on the campaign and trashing her opponents on the powerful, 50,000-watt station.
For perspective, think of me writing this column critical of Wilson-Foley and Donovan but neglecting to mention I was making a little money on the side helping their opponents or even giving them advice for free. Or on a much larger scale, if a network radio or TV analyst went after President Obama or Mitt Romney while receiving a stipend from the Republican National Committee or a Democratic PAC.
I would expect this newspaper to fire me or at least drop the column until the matter was resolved and the broadcast outlets to do the same.
But WTIC is stonewalling. Rowland hasn’t commented because he claims his bosses at WTIC told him not to. WTIC hasn’t commented either, which is its right, but it delayed reporting the story, which isn’t. All this at a station with a sterling reputation and one of an ever decreasing number of news departments worthy of the name on Connecticut radio.
Even Rowland wouldn’t have the chutzpah to say anything more about the 5th District race, but who’s to believe anything he might say about any other contest involving Democrats and Republicans? Who knows where else he may be “volunteering?”
His alleged attempt to be a paid consultant for Wilson-Foley’s campaign was his second try for a laundered political job, according to another 5thDistrict candidate, Mark Greenberg. Greenberg has said he refused to hire Rowland when he ran in 2010 after Rowland proposed his consulting be disguised via payment through a foundation millionaire Greenberg supports to help stray dogs. Rowland says it’s not so.
It would be tempting to crack wise about Rowland wanting to give advice regarding creatures who stray but as Richard Nixon often reminded us, it wouldn’t be right.
Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.