Witness: Conspiracy with ex-governor was unspoken

AP News
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Posted: Sep 09, 2014 6:41 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A key prosecution witness at former Gov. John Rowland's federal trial said Tuesday under cross-examination that their conspiracy to hide payments for Rowland's campaign work was unspoken.

Brian Foley told Rowland's attorney that he believed Rowland understood he was being paid for the work he was doing on wife Lisa Wilson-Foley's 5th Congressional District campaign in 2012 and not consulting work for Foley's nursing home business.

Foley acknowledged during questioning by Rowland attorney Reid Weingarten that he did not ask the former governor in person, on the phone or in emails to do anything for the campaign.

He said the timing of offering him a consulting deal with Apple Health Care Inc. after Rowland had solicited a campaign job made the arrangement apparent. Rowland also sent him an email that read in part, "I get it. Let's you and I meet."

"I would not have hired Rowland if I didn't think it would be primarily beneficial to the campaign," Foley said.

The former governor is facing seven federal charges, including allegations that he conspired with Foley and his wife to violate federal election laws.

The Foleys have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges they conspired to allow Foley to make an illegal contribution to his wife's campaign by paying Rowland for campaign work. Foley has testified he paid Rowland $35,000 to work on his wife's campaign.

Weingarten tried to show that Foley had a lot to gain by entering into a plea deal to testify against Rowland.

Foley acknowledged that he broke campaign finance laws by promising family, friends and employees that they would be reimbursed for any donations to Wilson-Foley's campaign.

He also said he gave his wife five $100,000 checks, knowing she would use them for her campaign. The two have separate assets, but Foley said he did not believe he was doing anything illegal.

He also acknowledged that his lawyer sent misleading letters to prosecutors, something Weingarten said amounted to obstruction of justice.

Weingarten also produced numerous emails showing that Rowland did legitimate consulting work for Apple.

Foley acknowledged that Rowland met on numerous occasions with Apple's CEO and offered advice on labor issues and state policy. He said Rowland also persuaded him to hire Tom Ritter, a former Democratic speaker of the House, as an Apple lobbyist with a $25,000 salary.