Former Connecticut governor John Rowland walked into court on Friday to face charges he hid paid work he did for two different congressional campaigns from the Federal Elections Commission. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Former Gov. John Rowland is challenging federal charges alleging his involvement in illegal campaign activities by moving to dismiss his indictment.
His legal representation filed the motion with Connecticut's U.S. District Court on Tuesday, contesting seven counts against him. His defense argued that "the indictment fails to allege unlawful conduct by Mr. Rowland" and that some of the some of the charges were unconstitutional.
Rowland is accused of taking unreported payments to advise Lisa Wilson Foley's Fifth District Congressional campaign and offering to do the same for another candidate. But his defense said he did nothing illegal.
"The Government here is attempting to criminalize conduct that is simply not illegal," Rowland's defense states in the court documents for the case.
Rowland pleaded not guilty to two counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation, two counts of causing false statements to be made to the FEC, two counts of causing illegal campaign contributions and one count of conspiracy in April. Click here for more background on the case.
According to the indictment, Rowland devised a scheme in October 2009 to work for the campaign of a candidate running for U.S. House of Representatives in Connecticut's Fifth District during the 2009 and 2010 election cycle. The indictment alleges Rowland tried to conceal the fact that he was being paid for the campaign work from the Federal Elections Commission and from the public.
The indictment also includes allegations that Rowland tried to hide his work with Lisa Wilson Foley on her campaign for the Fifth District during the 2011 and 2012 election cycle by being paid for nominal services for work at a nursing home owned by Wilson Foley's husband, Brian Foley.
Wilson Foley wanted Rowland to work on her 2012 primary campaign but believed that because he had been convicted of a felony, disclosure of his paid role in the campaign would result in substantial negative publicity for her candidacy, prosecutors said.
In one email, authorities say, Rowland wrote that "I want to stay under the radar as much as possible" and that "after Clark gets out of the race it can be different."
Mike Clark, a former FBI agent, was a candidate in the Republican primary and filed a federal elections complaint over the payments made to Rowland. Clark also had been the agent who investigated the earlier case that ultimately sent Rowland to prison.
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 Federal Election Commission, in violation of federal campaign finance laws, prosecutors said
Lisa Wilson Foley and Brian Foley pleaded guilty a couple months ago to their involvement in the scheme and face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 at sentencing.