Connecticut's Face of Corruption
FORMER GOV. John G. Rowland is overcome with emotion as he reads from a letter he received in prison from a woman who said she was told by God to comfort him. He spoke Thursday at The Master’s School in Simsbury.
Dec. 14, 2006
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant
Rowland Pins His Future On FaithDecember 15, 2006
By MARK PAZNIOKAS, Courant Staff Writer
But first, Rowland noted the presence of the press. Two newspaper reporters sat in the auditorium. A WNPR radio reporter recorded his words. Two TV crews ran videotape.
"As you can see, there is a little bit of press here," Rowland said. "I describe that as morbid curiosity. They're just curious that I'm still breathing after the roller-coaster life that I've had."
For a fleeting moment, Rowland sounded less like an inspirational speaker - the former governor's new profession since leaving prison 10 months ago - and more like a politician weary of living in a fishbowl.
Then he smiled. It was a tight enigmatic smile employed often in 25 years in public life. Sometimes it signaled amusement, other times it masked annoyance.
Rowland returned to the story of his long roller-coaster ride: elected to the state legislature at age 23, to Congress at 27 and to the governor's office at 37. It was all gone at age 47, when he resigned amid an impeachment inquiry and a federal bid-rigging investigation into gifts and favors Rowland accepted from state contractors.
It was all for the best, he said.
His audience was students in grades 9-12 at The Master's School, a non-denominational Christian school. The headmaster, Rick Burslem, had invited Rowland weeks ago to talk about leadership and character from what he called Rowland's position of humility.
Burslem said the school tries to expose the students to a wide variety of speakers, experiences and ideas. He has staged a debate between an atheist and a theologian, and he invited a liberal pastor to talk to students about homosexuality.
Burslem said the school paid Rowland $500, a fee that the former governor donated to the school's leadership academy. Burslem said Rowland's typical fee for educational speeches was $1,500.
"He is no longer a politician, but I believe he is a statesman," Burslem told the students. "A statesman is one who believes in universal truths and applies them to life."
Rowland said he avoided one universal truth, the need all men have for a foundation of faith, until he was incarcerated at a federal prison camp in Loretto, Pa.
In a life consumed with a nearly unbroken chain of political success, Rowland said, he rarely strayed from a heady path to power.
"If you don't have a good fundamental foundation with your faith and with your God, that path will be filled with pride, ego and just self-satisfaction," he said. "At the end of the day, it doesn't really mean anything."
Rowland said his fall from the pinnacle of state politics was a surreal blur. One day, he was a guest at the White House. The next, it seemed, he was standing in line for toilet paper at prison camp.
In prison, he exercised, read and meditated. He hired a prisoner as a personal trainer.
"His name was Six-Nine. You'll never guess how tall he was," Rowland said, smiling. "I figure if you are in prison camp, you might as well hire the biggest guy in the place. It's not a bad idea."
Rowland described making peace with his fall from power.
Then, halfway through his prison term, his lawyer notified him by mail that he might face additional state charges in connection with consulting work he did after leaving office.
"You could have knocked me over with a feather," Rowland said. "As I read that letter, I thought to myself, `Holy smokes. God has given up on me. He is throwing in the towel. I'm a failure.'"
Rowland said he was at peace when the prison administrator warned him that new charges would mean a transfer from the camp to a higher-security prison. She asked if he was OK.
"I said, `I'm great.' I said, `Everything is going to work out.' I start quoting Romans 8:28 to her," Rowland said. "She thought I'd left my senses. She actually left the room to go get a counselor. And I said, `You don't need to get a counselor, I'm fine. Everything is going to be fine.'"
Then his lawyer called. A judge refused to sign an arrest warrant sought by state prosecutors.
Rowland said he returned to his bunk to find a letter from a woman from New York. He said it was someone he didn't know.
On Thursday, he pulled the letter from his pocket and read, "Dear Mr. Rowland. Don't panic. It's only a test."
She urged him to read Romans 8:28.
Rowland told the students the letter was the work of the Holy Spirit.
"I guess the message to all of you is real simple," he said. "Be ready. Continue to study The Word. Continue to look for circumstances to grow your faith."
He urged them to be evangelists.
"Reach out to other non-believers, your brothers, your sisters. And just show them by your actions. You can't talk anybody into it. Show them by your actions, and then let the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work," he said. "And it will all work out."
After meeting with the students, Rowland was guarded with reporters.
He had flown to Connecticut earlier Thursday from a speaking engagement in Ohio. He declined to provide details.
He and his wife, Patricia, recently bought a $500,000 house in Middlebury. He said his three children from his previous marriage are doing well: His middle child, his son, R.J., is a Marine serving in Iraq.
He did not object to the school's inviting reporters to his talk, but Rowland said he feels no need to explain himself anymore, at least not to the press.
"You're going to have your own impressions. You're going to have your own conclusions. You're welcome to them," he said. Then smiled and leaned forward. "I don't care."
Contact Mark Pazniokas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Click Here for my picture and story on injusticebusters.com
Click Here for the text of my letter for what was former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland's first letter received on his first day of Federal Prison for being corrupt and taking bribes.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
In the above link I ask the USDOJ to investigate Blumenthal, former Connecticut State Police Commissioner Arthur L. Spada, Rockville Connecticut Superior Court Judge Jonathan Kaplan, and others.
Click Here for a post on the Connecticut State Police "100 Club" where there are accusations of countless false arrests and imprisonment for making up evidence and filing false reports for DUI. The above link also has links in that post to old www.freespeech.com posts. www.freespeech.com links no longer work, but some posts have been preserved.
Steven G. Erickson lets Official Connecticut have it live on television: