- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. John G. Rowland knew that a businessman received an unfair advantage in winning a $57 million state contract, but did nothing to stop the deal, according to a draft report from the committee that considered his impeachment.

The 38-page report was released yesterday by the House Select Committee of Inquiry — exactly one week after Mr. Rowland, a Republican, announced his resignation amid a series of graft accusations.

The report does not reach any conclusions about whether Mr. Rowland committed crimes or impeachable offenses, but it includes the evidence it found regarding gifts, loans and financial arrangements involving Mr. Rowland.

Mr. Rowland’s sudden resignation announcement put a halt to the committee’s hearings before his attorneys presented any defense and without the embattled governor ever testifying.

But committee leaders said the report was important for history’s sake and for future impeachment investigations, because it provides a blueprint of how the probe was handled.

The draft report was written by attorneys for the House Select Committee of Inquiry; the final report will be released later by the lawmakers.

The report says Mr. Rowland knew that William Tomasso, a principal with a construction contractor, went to Ohio with the governor’s former co-chief of staff, Peter Ellef, to tour a juvenile detention facility in 1998.

That facility was to be a model for a new juvenile facility that Connecticut officials planned to build. Mr. Tomasso eventually was awarded the contract.

Mr. Rowland’s scheduler, Christine Corey, told investigators that Mr. Rowland did not know that Mr. Ellef and Mr. Tomasso were traveling to Ohio for the tour. When he did find out, he was upset, she said.

But Mr. Rowland did not confront Mr. Ellef or Mr. Tomasso, the committee’s investigators said.

Mr. Tomasso’s trip to Ohio with Mr. Ellef was previously disclosed, but the accusation that Mr. Rowland knew about it and failed to intervene in the contract was a new development.

Mr. Rowland has admitted accepting gifts from the Tomassos, including renovations on his summer cottage, but has said he provided nothing in return.

Republican Rep. Arthur O’Neill, a committee co-chairman, said the story about Mr. Rowland’s troubles is an important lesson for all public officials.

“We should learn from these ethics laws. If we cross a line, recognize that and take a step back,” Mr. O’Neill said.

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