John G. Rowland WTIC
John G. Rowland
John G. Rowland WTIC

Former Gov. John G. Rowland, who was identified in federal court Monday as a secret, illegally paid advisor to a congressional candidate in 2012, has abused his position as a radio talk show host and should be taken off the air by WTIC-AM, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday.

“He was not serving the public office, but 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,” Malloy said in response to reporters’ questions.

But Rowland was at the microphone at 3:07 p.m., when traffic and weather ended, and a snippet played from his theme song,  “Only in America.”

Only in America/Dreaming in red, white and blue/Where we dream as big as we want to/We all get a chance/Everybody gets to dance/Only in America

“Before I get the program going, I just want to make a quick statement. I am not going to be discussing the legal news and developments,” Rowland said. “I’m sure that you all understand, and I want to respect the process. First things first.”

Then it was on to the political foibles of others, beginning with the shortcomings of Obamacare.

Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty Monday to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from what they described as an effort to conceal $35,000 in payments to Rowland for help with Wilson-Foley’s unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2012.

Rowland, 56, who reinvented himself as a host on WTIC-AM in 2010 after serving 10 months in prison on a federal corruption conviction, was identified in court as a co-conspirator of the couple. While Rowland was secretly on Wilson-Foley’s payroll, he offered commentary on her race.

His afternoon program was pre-empted by the Red Sox game Monday, when news broke of the guilty pleas by Wilson-Foley and Foley. The station’s program director, Jenneen Lee, declined Tuesday to respond to Malloy.

“We have spoken with Mr. Rowland and his representatives and are monitoring the situation closely and in the meantime he will continue to host his program. I will decline to comment further,” she said.

With statements in open court from Wilson-Foley and Foley that they conspired with Rowland to secretly pay him, Malloy said, WTIC has sufficient cause to remove him.

“I think the reality is that we now know enough,” Malloy said. “Two people have pled guilty to this charge and have identified the party they were engaged in with.”

Malloy, a first-term Democrat seeking re-election this fall, said Wilson-Foley’s deal with Rowland will encourage public cynicism about politics.

“It takes away from the political process,” Malloy said. “It hurts the political process, the trust in the political process, and it is disappointing.”

Rowland has been an on-air personality at WTIC-AM since the fall of 2010. He also writes a blog on the station’s web site. It’s called, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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