Members of a special legislative committee that has been considering whether Gov. John G. Rowland should be impeached asked its lawyer to draft one or more articles of impeachment Friday because he has not cooperated with their probe.
The decision came after a lawyer for Rowland refused to testify, under oath as a witness, before the House Select Committee of Inquiry about why Rowland and his wife have not yet turned over almost 10 years worth of personal financial records.
Rowland, 46, a Republican, has been under increasing pressure to resign since admitting in mid-December that he lied about who paid for improvements to a summer cottage.
He has admitted accepting gifts from friends, employees and state contractors. He is also the subject of a federal corruption investigation. Rowland contends he has not compromised his office and has not given anything in return to the gift-givers.
“What we have sought many many months is direct and simple,” Rep. John Wayne Fox, co-chairman of the inquiry committee, said in a testy exchange with Rowland’s lawyer, William Dow. “It’s information we feel appropriate to do the job we need to do.”
Earlier in the day, before the committee made its decision, Rowland told reporters drawing up all the information that legislators have been seeking has been a monumental task.
“You know how hard it would be to reconstruct documents over the last 10 years for everything you’ve ever spent or bought or purchased,” Rowland said.
There was no formal vote of the committee to take another step toward impeaching Rowland. Fox, a Democrat, asked if there were any objections from committee members. There were none, so he ordered special counsel Steven F. Reich to begin the process.
There still would be many steps before Rowland might actually be impeached. An article could be presented to the committee sometime next week. A committee co-chairman said the panel then could vote merely to accept it, to recommend it to the House, to delay action or to reject it.
“We are not suggesting in any way that the governor ought to be removed from office or that he ought to be impeached. We’re not saying that,” Fox said. “And if in fact that grew to be the conclusion of this body, it is my hope it would not be for failure to produce documents.”
Dow criticized the committee for the scope of its probe and not having a standard for impeachment.
“I’m enraged,” Dow said. “Essentially I’ve been accused of not acting in good faith with this committee.”
Reich has complained that the slow pace of producing documents by Rowland and his wife, Patricia, were impeding the committee’s investigation.
But Dow said Rowland had turned over everything in his possession from 10 years worth of financial transactions. The 2,800 pages of information includes Rowland’s tax records and credit card information.
“He doesn’t have an army of lawyers or a legion of investigators,” Dow said. “We have produced what they have in their possession.”