Public office: Ambassador to Ireland, 2006-2009; Director of private sector development, Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq, 2003-2004.
Current Position: Chairman and founder, NTC Group
Thomas C. Foley is the first candidate to win the Republican endorsement for governor without previously holding elective office. He is an independently wealthy businessman from Greenwich who made a fortune by acquiring and overhauling companies. As a reward for his service as a major fundraiser for the Republican Party, President George W. Bush named him ambassador to Ireland where he served from 2006-2009 .
Foley began his quest for public office as a candidate for U.S. Senate,, but switched to the race for governor in December after Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced she would not seek re-election in 2010.
As a self-funded candidate, he was able to run a long television ad campaign and in the end he won a three-way primary, defeating his closest chall;enger, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, by three percentage points.
During the primary campaign, Foley came under attack over allegations from his past. First came the disclosure of two arrests in connection with motor vehicle incidents, including one that involved his ex-wife in 1993. Charges were dropped in both cases. He acknowledged to The Mirror in June that he never disclosed the arrests when nominated to be ambassador to Ireland by President George W. Bush.
He also was criticized over his management of a Georgia textile mill, Bibb Co. His company owned the mill from 1985-1996 before it went bankrupt and was reorganized, putting area residents out of work. Questions were raised over how much Foley benefited financially as the mill was sold.
Foley’s motto is Hartford is broke and broken. He promises to balance the budget next year without raising taxes – he says he will veto any attempt to do that — which could require gutting state government if non-partisan fiscal projections hold and the next governor inherits a nearly $3.4 billion deficit.
On social issues, Foley describes himself as pro-choice on abortion. He says he considers marriage to be between a man and a woman, but he would do nothing to overturn Connecticut’s gay marriage law. He promises to veto an effort to repeal the death penalty.
He would have signed a gun-control measure passed in 2007 requiring gun owners to report stolen firearms.
“I support the 2nd Amendment. I’m a gun owner myself, but I think with gun ownership comes responsibility.”
Foley graduated from Harvard Business School in 1979 and went to work for McKinsey & Co., and then joined Citicorp Venture Capital to learn the business of acquiring companies. Foley formed NTC Group in 1985 and bought the former Citicorp target, Bibb. At Foley’s direction, Bibb was at the center of a takeover battle that led to the eventual breakup of J.P. Stevens in 1988. A New York Times’ business profile, which described his pivotal role in the acquisition fight, detailed his foray into presidential politics — a $90,000 contribution to air commercials in New Hampshire for Bob Dole.
NTC now describes itself as an “investment firm specializing in long-term equity investments in operating companies.” Its main asset is Stevens Aviation of Greenville, S.C., a provider of aviation services to operators of personal, corporate, and military aircraft.
In 2000, Foley was a Bush Pioneer, responsible for raising at least $100,000 for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush.
Foley served as a civilian in Iraq from August 2003 to March 2004, overseeing 160 of Iraq’s state-owned businesses. He led a 10-man team whose job was to restart the Iraqi economy. He was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
The Bush administration’s efforts to govern Iraq were largely ridiculed in “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone,” a well-reviewed book that Foley denounced without reading. Excerpts in the Washington Post described Foley as a Bush crony.
“I haven’t read that one,” he said. “That was fiction. He was doing the normal Bush-bashing the media took on at the end.”
But he called “Fiasco,” which criticized the Bush administration for failing to anticipate the counter-insurgency, “an honest effort to reflect accurately what went on in Iraq.”
President Bush named Foley ambassador to Ireland in 2006, a post he held through the end of the Bush administration in January 2009. While ambassador, he spent between $400,000 and $500,000 of his own funds to restore the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Dublin.
Education: B.A, Harvard College; M.B.A., Harvard University
Personal: In 2009, Foley, then 57, married Leslie Fahrenkopf, 41, a lawyer for the News Corporation and a former associate White House counsel in the George W. Bush administration. She is the daughter of Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., who was the Republican national chairman under Ronald Reagan and is now the president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association. Foley has a son by a previous marriage and lives in Greenwich.