Topic: Government & Politics

Rowland Resigns…Finally!
(6/25/2004)

There are certain obvious ethics stories that may never appear on the Ethics Scoreboard.

These are the stories of ethical violations so obvious and flagrant that there is little need for comment, especially when it appears that the violator is headed for his just desserts. The Connecticut saga of GOP Governor Rowland has been in this category since December, when the once-popular governor admitted that he had accepted the services of government contactors to renovate his vacation cottage, adding such features as a new hot tub and a new heating system free of charge. He also admitted that he had lied to cover up this classic example of political graft. From then on, the story played out in predictable ways. Mrs. Rowland accused the press of being biased and out to get her husband, and said that the public was ungrateful. Supporters argued that Rowland's previous fine work as governor made his transgressions forgivable: this is the "one mistake" defense so familiar to Monicagate fans. The governor himself simply claimed that he did nothing in exchange for the renovation…or the cigars, canoe, multiple vacations, vintage sports car, and all the other gifts from government supplicants that came to light in the following weeks and months. It just happened that the people the Connecticut government gave contracts to were all Rowland's "friends" like the friend who purchased the governor's Washington D.C. condo at an inflated price, using a "straw man" to hide his identity so the biased press and ungrateful public wouldn't misunderstand.

At last, as impeachment grew nearer and all the governor's allies ran for cover, John Rowland resigned as he should have months ago. Connecticut didn't listen to the rationalizations and the false justifications; it just saw an elected leader who showed himself to be untrustworthy, and set out to get rid of him. Meanwhile, Northern Virginia's 8th District Democrats voted to re-nominate Congressman Jim Moran, who also gets a lot of "gifts" from his "friends," for another term. The Connecticut way isn't as obvious as it should be, so we note the sad Rowland episode as it ends, so that others may follow it when the time comes.

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