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John Grosvenor Rowland (born May 24, 1957, Waterbury, Connecticutmarker) was the Governor of Connecticut from 1995 to 2004; he is a member of the Republican Party. He is married to Patty Rowland, his second wife, and the couple have five children between them. In 2004, Rowland resigned from office during a corruption investigation, and later pleaded guilty in federal court to a one-count indictment for conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, mail fraud and tax fraud. He was the first Connecticut governor to be elected to three terms since 1784.

He served ten months in a federal prison until February 10, 2006, followed by four months house arrest at his home in West Hartford, Connecticutmarker, until June 2006. His lieutenant governor was M. Jodi Rell, now the governor of Connecticut.

Political career

Rowland's political career began in 1980 when, at age 23, he was elected to the Connecticut State House of Representatives. He held his seat until 1984, when he was elected to represent Connecticut's 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives and was reelected in 1986 and 1988.

After losing the 1990 gubernatorial race to Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., Rowland worked as a consultant for United Technologies Corp. He was later elected governor in 1994 at age 37 (the youngest governor in Connecticut history) and later defeated two Democratic opponents: former US Congresswoman Barbara Bailey Kennelly (63%-35%) in 1998 and former State Comptroller Bill Curry (56%-44%) in 2002.

Rowland was the only Republican re-elected Governor of Connecticut in the past half-century. He was the first governor elected to a third term since the terms became four years long from the 1950 election. (Previously, there had been more than a few governors elected to a third term, but the term was one year long until 1876 and from then on it was two years long.) His plurality over Kennelly in 1998 was among the largest recorded for any Connecticut politician.

Rowland resigned as Governor of Connecticut effective July 1, 2004. Lieutenant Governor M. Jodi Rell served out the remainder of his term. Rowland is the only Connecticut governor to have ever faced impeachment and he is the only Connecticut governor to have served prison time.

Accomplishment as Governor

During the years that Rowland was in office, the state enjoyed record-breaking surpluses, state spending increased only modestly, with real spending growth rates of just over 2 percent annually between 1995 and 2003. For the first time in state history, tax rebate checks were returned to taxpayers in 1998 and again in 1999. He adhered to the state spending cap voters had added to the state constitution in 1992.

During those years, the state invested more than $2 billion to rebuild the University of Connecticutmarker. Major investments were also made in the Connecticut State Universitymarker and Community Technical College systems; enrollments as of 2004 were at an all-time high.

As of 2004, Connecticut students led the nation in performance, and the number of spaces in pre-school programs more than doubled during his term in office.

During his term, more than (700+ sq. miles) of open space were preserved for future generations and state parks were revitalized. Rowland also led an aggressive clean-up and protection effort for Long Island Sound.

The Adriaen’s Landing project, the most ambitious capital city development project in decades in the state, continued to progress during Rowland's time in office. New college campuses were moved and brought thousands downtown in Hartfordmarker, Stamfordmarker, Bridgeportmarker and Waterburymarker. New Londonmarker's waterfront was thriving as of 2004, with a new global research facility and rebuilt pier. Theaters and museums in all major cities were being revitalized, from the Palace Theater in Waterbury to the New Britainmarker's Museum of American Art.

In 1998, Rowland implemented the HUSKY Plan (Healthcare for UninSured Kids and Youth) to provide health insurance to uninsured Connecticut children. During his tenure, the budget for the Department of Children and Families more than doubled. Rowland supported the creation of the state’s first Child Advocate.

Rowland was a strong proponent of a tough stance against violent crime as Governor. The prison population grew rapidly during his term, which caused the state to send inmates to prisons in Virginiamarker to deal with overcrowding. Legislative opponents of this policy such as Representative Michael Lawlor urged more rapid release of nonviolent offenders. After Rowland left office the Virginia inmates were returned to Connecticut and more criminals were paroled. This approach was criticized after the 2007 Cheshire home invasion murders committed by two "nonviolent" inmates paroled from Connecticut prison.

Before investigation into his conduct as governor started, Rowland was viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party, and was mentioned as a future presidential or vice-presidential candidate.

Shortly after being released from prison, he was offered a job as the city of Waterbury's economic development coordinator. This office was appointed by long time friend and associate Mayor Michael Jarjura.

Corruption as Governor

Impeachment process and federal case

In the first year of Rowland's third term (2003), rumors began circulating that contractors doing business with the state paid for and made improvements to his weekend cottage, that he benefited improperly from the sale of a condominium in Washington, D.C.marker at an inflated price, that he took gifts from subordinates in state government, and that he took partial ownership in businesses immediately before they were granted state contracts. These eventually led to federal investigations and then indictments of some of Rowland's close aides, who then cooperated with federal investigators.

Rumors continued that the investigation was building a case against Rowland himself; Rowland publicly denied the allegations.

However, in December 2003, Rowland abruptly appeared on television and admitted that work had been done by contractors on his cottage at no charge, and that his earlier statements to the contrary were untrue. Matters were exacerbated when his wife, Patty Rowland, wrote a satirical poem deriding the media for investigating her husband's admitted wrongdoing.

He claimed that since the work was done he had paid the contractors in full, but in January 2004, an official investigation began into charges of corruption, and whether he should face impeachment.

On June 18, the Connecticut Supreme Courtmarker required Rowland to appear before the investigative panel seeking his testimony, which could have resulted in him giving evidence against impeachment in the ongoing criminal investigation. On June 21, Rowland's lawyers announced that he would resign. The resignation went into effect at noon on July 1.

On December 23, 2004, Rowland pleaded guilty to depriving the public of honest service. Rowland was sentenced on March 18, 2005, in New Haven, Connecticutmarker, to one year and one day in prison, four months house arrest, three years probation and community service. On April 1 he entered Federal Correctional Institution, Lorettomarker, in Pennsylvaniamarker. His federal inmate number was 15623-014.

After prison

On February 10, 2006, Rowland was released from federal prison with the stipulation that he serve four months house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet monitor.

On July 1, 2006, Rowland spoke to an association of scholar athletes in Kingston, Rhode Islandmarker, about the lessons he learned.A "sense of entitlement" and the "arrogance of power" were two of the biggest things that ended his political career, The Hartford Courant quoted him as saying.

He warned that the arrogance is very easy when you're put on a pedestal, and you "start to believe your own press releases. ... It [becomes] all about me. You start to block out what else is around you."

The Courant quoted Rowland as saying that "when you start to find yourself only concerned with yourself" that's the point when you need to find a "grounding force." That should be faith, ideally, he said, or at least "something within yourself" not just other people.

"I found in my career that a lot of people will tell you how great you are especially when you're the boss. But there will be that time when that career will be over ... and then it's down to the three F's faith, family and friends real faith, real family and real friends."

Rowland, now a resident of West Hartford, told the audience his future is still uncertain. He owes the Internal Revenue Service more than $35,000 and another $40,000 in fines. He said he's a volunteer counselor and hoping to find a publisher for a book he wrote called Falling Into Grace.

In September 2006, local TV station WTNHmarker, reported that Patty Rowland had purchased a house in Middlebury, Connecticutmarker, and the Rowland family would be moving to that town.

Rowland discussed his life after politics in a Washington Post article published June 17, 2007. Rowland discussed his work on the lecture circuit and the factors leading to his political demise. He also expressed disappointment that his successor, Governor M. Jodi Rell had "thrown him under the bus" and distanced herself from him after taking office. Rell declined to criticise Rowland over these remarks.

In January 2008 Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura announced that he would hire Rowland as an economic development advisor for the city. Rowland began work in February and is receiving an annual salary of $95,000 as the city's economic development coordinator.

In August 2008 Rowland's stepson died.

Further investigations

Investigations by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and by a state legislative committee concerning several separate possible improprieties by him and associates, ensued after Rowland's resignation:

  • Work he took between his resignation and imprisonment, as a consultant (and possibly an unregistered lobbyist), would clearly have been illegal if the state's revolving-door law explicitly included the governor as it does other state employees. On August 29, 2005, Rowland's attorney Bartley Halloran reported that Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano would seek a state arrest warrant against Rowland. The prosecutor's request was subsequently denied.




Electoral history

References



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