Former Gov. John Rowland appeared in court today in a federal case alleging his involvement in illegal campaign activities.
Rowland has been charged with conspiracy, falsifying records in a federal investigation and creating secret consulting roles in two congressional campaigns.
He's accused of taking $35,000 in unreported payments to advise Lisa Wilson-Foley's Fifth District Congressional campaign and offering to do the same for Republican candidate Mark Greenberg.
During opening statements Wednesday, Rowland's attorney, Reid Weingarten, told jurors that Rowland did no work for Greenberg in 2010 and performed legitimate work at a nursing home chain owned by Wilson-Foley in 2012, while also volunteering for her campaign.
Rowland Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges
Greenberg, who took the stand as the prosecution's first witness, said Rowland offered to serve as a consultant during his 2010 congressional run but asked to be paid through Greenberg's animal rescue group, the Simon Foundation.
Greenberg never took the deal and said he didn't want his campaign to be associated with Rowland's prior conviction.
"You're seeing good lawyering and [asking] a jury the ultimate question: Was this legitimate volunteering and legitimate working, or was this a conspiracy to avoid campaign reporting requirements?" questioned attorney Jim Bergenn, who has no ties to the case.
A few days ago, federal prosecutors said the government mistakenly provided Rowland's defense team with privileged attorney-client communications.
Those communications were seized from email accounts belonging to witness, Brian Foley, Wilson-Foley's husband, prosecutors said. But now the government has reportedly moved to block Rowland's lawyers from using any of the emails.
The Foleys pleaded guilty to the charges against them and are expected to testify against Rowland.
In May, Rowland moved for dismissal of his indictment and his lawyers filed a motion with Connecticut's U.S. District Court, contesting seven counts against him, arguing that there was no proof of unlawful conduct and that some of the charges were unconstitutional.
"The prosecution [is] saying it's a campaign violation, and the defense [is] saying Rowland has a right to volunteer and to work. The fact that he does both of those at the same time doesn't make it a campaign violation," Bergenn said.
Ten years ago, Rowland was forced to resign from the his post as governor after pleading guilty to another corruption scandal in 2004. He spent 10 months in prison.