Rowland seeks dismissal of federal charges

John Rowland and his attorney enter federal court in New Haven, April 11, 2014. (WTNH)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Former Gov. John G. Rowland is seeking the dismissal of federal charges that accused him of trying to create secret consultant roles with two congressional campaigns, saying he did nothing wrong.

“The government here is attempting to criminalize conduct that is simply not illegal,” Rowland’s attorneys wrote.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said Wednesday prosecutors would respond in court.

Former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty March 31 to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions through what prosecutors called a scheme that hid the consulting role Rowland played in her 2012 campaign. Authorities say Rowland provided nominal services to Foley’s nursing home company under a phony contract that created a cover for him to work for Wilson-Foley’s campaign.

Wilson-Foley wanted Rowland to work on her primary campaign but believed that because he had been convicted of a felony his involvement would attract negative publicity to her candidacy, prosecutors said. Rowland was released from prison in 2006 after serving 10 months on a corruption-related charge.

Rowland was paid about $35,000 for services to the campaign, authorities said. The payments originated with Foley and constituted campaign contributions but were not reported to the FEC, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Rowland also devised a scheme to work for the campaign of a candidate seeking election to the same congressional seat during the 2009 and 2010 election cycle and to conceal that he would be paid to perform that work. Authorities say Rowland drafted a sham consulting contract in which he would purportedly perform work for an animal center.

Rowland’s attorneys say the contracts were not false, citing the indictment in arguing Rowland did perform services for Foley’s nursing home. They say the other contract described wide-ranging and open-ended obligations and say it was an unsigned, unexecuted draft contract in which no work was performed and no payments were made.

The charges also should be dismissed because they fail to allege any involvement by Rowland in the alleged failure by Wilson-Foley’s campaign to disclose the payments, Rowland’s attorneys argue. They say there was no obligation to disclose that Rowland was the ultimate recipient of Foley’s payments, saying Wilson-Foley’s campaign could have reported simply that it received in-kind contributions from Foley.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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