Former FBI Agent Speaks Out On Rowland and Politics

Apr 1, 2014

Former Gov. John Rowland in Hartford in 2009.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Former Republican Governor John Rowland is again at the center of a federal investigation that has already resulted in two guilty pleas. Mike Clark is the former FBI agent who investigated Rowland the first time around, and blew the whistle on him the second.

Back in 2012, Clark wrote a letter to the federal government saying there was something wrong with John Rowland's arrangement with Lisa Wilson-Foley. She was a Republican congressional candidate and Clark was her opponent.

"I still remember I was at a debate in Torrington in April of '12," Clark said. "And Lisa Wilson-Foley came up to me and kind of confronted me at the debate saying, you know, 'You're playing politics, you don't really believe this.' And I told her, I said, 'Lisa, I absolutely believe this. Otherwise, I wouldn't have written it.'

"And then we were interrupted. We never got to finish the conversation," Clark said. "So I guess we finished the conversation yesterday with her guilty plea."

Former Gov. John Rowland in Hartford in 2009, talking with media.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, each pleaded guilty Monday to taking part in an off-the-books scheme to pay Rowland for campaign consulting work. Clark spent 14 years with the FBI in Connecticut. For part of that time, he oversaw the agents that investigated Rowland. That investigation eventually landed the governor in jail.

A few years later, Clark left the agency and joined politics. So he has a unique perspective on the former governor, who was implicated in the alleged scheme but who has not been charged. I asked Clark whether he thought the threat of federal prison time was still an effective deterrent.

"In the majority of cases, the individual does not make the same mistake twice, nor is he given the opportunity to make the same mistake twice," Clark said. "In this case, if the allegations are proven, it certainly is incredibly poor judgment and shocking that the message wasn't clear."

Efforts to reach Rowland's attorneys were not immediately successful.