- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 1, 2004

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — M. Jodi Rell was sworn in yesterday as Connecticut’s governor, promising to restore “faith, integrity and honor” after taking over from John G. Rowland, who resigned amid a federal corruption investigation and threatened impeachment.

Mrs. Rell, 58, a Republican who ran on Mr. Rowland’s ticket three times, took the oath of office shortly after noon on the north steps of the state Capitol.

“It has been a time of profound disappointment and disillusionment,” Mrs. Rell said in her inaugural address. “It has been a moment in history that we never thought we would see and fervently hope that we never see again.

“Today, we begin to restore faith, integrity and honor to our government,” she said. “It is our solemn obligation. It will be our lasting legacy.”

Mr. Rowland, who has been under fire for accepting gifts from employees and state contractors, did not attend the inauguration.

The announcement of Mr. Rowland’s resignation came last week, just days after the state Supreme Court ruled that the legislative panel considering his impeachment could subpoena him to testify.

Mrs. Rell, who became only the second woman to serve as governor in Connecticut, will serve the remainder of Rowland’s third term, which expires in January 2007.

Yesterday afternoon, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin B. Sullivan, a Democrat, was to be sworn in as lieutenant governor.

The scandal-plagued Mr. Rowland has been on the sidelines since announcing last week he would resign. Mrs. Rell had been the de facto governor, announcing members of her new administration, presiding over the State Bond Commission and discussing her plans for the remaining 21/2 years of Mr. Rowland’s term.

Even as Mr. Rowland left office, Mrs. Rell announced she was issuing Executive Order No. 1, which imposes “strict ethics restraints on those who serve in government” and creates a new public integrity officer in her Cabinet.

On Wednesday, she said some members of Mr. Rowland’s staff who became known during the impeachment hearings will not be in her administration.

Mr. Rowland announced his resignation days before a House inquiry committee planned to recommend whether he should be impeached. He continues to be a subject of a federal corruption investigation into accusations of bid rigging. Some of the same people who gave Mr. Rowland gifts, including improvements to his Litchfield cottage, are involved in the federal probe.

Mr. Rowland has said he provided nothing in return to the gift-givers and did not compromise his office.

“I have great faith in Connecticut and its people, and I have great confidence in Lieutenant Governor Rell’s ability to lead this state,” he said.

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