September 8, 2014 / 7:22 PM / 5 years ago

Ex-Connecticut Governor Rowland cut phony consulting deal: witness

NEW HAVEN Conn. (Reuters) - Former Connecticut Governor John Rowland negotiated a phony contract with a political candidate he was advising to make it appear he was not working for the campaign, the candidate’s husband on Monday told a jury hearing Rowland’s trial on charges of violating federal election laws.

Brian Foley, whose wife, Lisa Wilson Foley, was running for Congress when the pair signed the bogus contract in 2011, testified at U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, that he and Rowland wanted to make it seem the former Republican governor was working for a group of nursing homes Foley owned.

“I was essentially paying him out of my own pocket for work as a political consultant, but we agreed it would not look good for anyone if he (Rowland) were working for and being paid by the campaign,” Foley said.

Foley said Rowland, who was forced to resign from office a decade ago after pleading guilty to corruption charges, did “everything he promised ... political consulting and advice, debate preparation, fundraising and courting delegates for the nomination. And he did it all quite well.”

Foley said his attorneys advised him there was little chance “that the contract’s real purpose would be discovered.”

Foley said a $10,000 check was issued for Rowland before he signed the contract in November 2011 for consulting services for the nursing homes.

Longtime friends of Rowland, Foley and his wife pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions.

Rowland’s lawyers insist their client was a campaign volunteer and was paid for giving Foley advice on his healthcare business, not for being a political consultant.

Rowland, 57, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, falsifying records in a federal investigation, causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission and causing illegal campaign contributions.

He served 10 months in prison in 2006 for the corruption charges to which he previously pleaded guilty.

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Reid Weingarten suggested Foley had spent 60 hours preparing with prosecutors for his testimony against Rowland and asked if he was coached on body language techniques lawyers use in the courtroom.

“Only those involving you,” Foley shot back, which prompted a roar of laughter in the courtroom. “They told me how you would raise your arms, and they were very good in showing me what you would really be like.”

Reporting by Richard Weizel; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech

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