Remember the 1994 governor’s race?
John Rowland was the Republican nominee. Bill Curry (with Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim his runningmate) the Democratic standard bearer. Lieutenant Governor Eunice Groark represented the A Connecticut Party, the party of Lowell Weicker who decided not to seek reelection after fixing the state’s budget mess and making time to save Bridgeport from melting into Long Island Sound.
Rowland was on the ropes. Did he have loose hands with his former wife Deborah? Did Middlebury cops fail to fully investigate a dispute between Rowland and his wife? Why did police bury the report that could have buried Rowland? Or maybe it was much ado about nothing? The only thing for sure, Deborah called the cops in the spring of 1994. It was not enough to cost Rowland the general election.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, former ambassador to Ireland, is taking heat from Hartford Courant articles about his relationship with his first wife and a few scrapes from decades ago. I don’t know Tom Foley. I know members of his campaign team. I know the vetting process to be named to a federal post is not a layup. I also know politics is not a saintly business. If you look deep within the past you’ll find something on everyone. Foley issued this statement on Thursday:
Tom Foley’s statement in Response to Today’s Hartford Courant Article
“For the last week, I have had to answer questions following the leaking of a broadly accusatory letter sent by my former wife to Governor Rowland in 2002. I have been peppered with questions about arrests 17 and 29 years ago as if they happened yesterday. My opponents have said I was “imprisoned” and asked me to “come clean” about these events as if I had not. But until this morning, I racked this up to “politics as usual” and the kind of “vetting” and “dusting up” a new entrant to the arena can expect.
This morning was different. An article in this morning’s Hartford Courant referenced the letter to discuss my relationship with my former wife. I have not seen the letter my former wife sent to Governor Rowland, but I have seen others she wrote which I assume are similar. While the article cited a letter from her in 2006 acknowledging that I had never threatened her and that no physical abuse occurred between us, it noted that in the letter to the Governor in 2002 she said I was abusive. While I am grateful that any suggestion of physical abuse and threatening behavior is off the table, the mere appearance of the article raises the specter that I behaved improperly in our relationship. I categorically deny that abusive behavior of any kind by me toward my former wife ever occurred and am making this statement today to remove once and for all any doubt about these accusations.
The 2006 letter confirming that there was no physical abuse or threatening behavior was provided to me at my request in response to a concern during my Ambassadorial nomination that a 1993 incident including me and my former wife might have involved domestic violence. My former wife provided this letter out of common decency. She has never claimed that there was physical abuse or threatening behavior between us, and neither was ever raised during a lengthy and contentious divorce that was litigated and included hundreds of motions over 15 years and a thorough custody evaluation.
My former wife was very upset that our marriage ended and that I was insisting on joint physical custody of our son. At times, she lashed out at me by engaging others in our dispute. The letter to Governor Rowland in 2002 was one of those times. She was angry and these letters were meant to be harmful. She has said so herself.
Our son is a happy, thriving college sophomore. We both take considerable pride as parents in our contributions to his very healthy development. With our son over 18 and out of our homes there is little left for my former wife and me to disagree over. Our relationship has improved, but it is still not as good as I would like.
I grew up as one of six children in a happy, sometimes chaotic, but well-functioning home. Four of my siblings were sisters, two older and two younger. My parents were fully engaged in a loving, cooperative, and always respectful marriage. Treating all people with respect and, for the two boys, being a gentleman, were values firmly instilled in me. My respect for people and my demeanor are essential parts of my character. Having either called into question would be inconceivable to those who know me well.
The Courant article also mentioned that my former wife claimed I hadn’t paid taxes on a domestic employee. I don’t know who my former wife was referring to, but I told Jon Lender, author of the article, that I will sit down with him and go over the records I have showing that I have paid all required taxes on domestic help I have employed.
On the issue of the two events raised last week, I want to provide further detail here. The arrest in 1981 involved a fender bender where the people in the other car claimed I ran into their car on purpose. I considered it a minor accident complicated by a misunderstanding. Afterward, the people in the other car complained to the police.
It was not until the next day that I heard of their complaint in a call from the police. I went to the police station and fully cooperated with them. It was a Sunday, so they retained me until the next day when I appeared before a judge and was released. The people in the other car dropped their complaint. The police never investigated the incident and the case was dismissed. There was no claim that alcohol was a factor in the accident and it was not. In the end, the legal system worked as it should and nothing came of the case. It faded into distant memory as an unpleasant, but unimportant event in my life.
The 1993 incident occurred when my former wife came to pick-up our son at my home. It involved my trying to obtain information from her about where she and my son would be staying and a contact number for them. I used my car to try and block her car from leaving my driveway and tried twice to obtain the information at intersections. I was unsuccessful at getting the information. At no time did I “drive her off the road” and there was no contact between our cars. I had reason to be anxious, but was not angry, and no harm occurred or was meant to either her or my son. The incident did not warrant involvement of the police.
The media and my opponents have asked for the release of the records covering the 1981 incident. I have reservations about doing so. Court records are sealed for a reason – usually to protect the privacy of individuals and to protect the innocent. I am also concerned about setting a precedent both for me and for others going into public service after me that will make any inquiry into someone’s private life, no matter how long ago, fair game. Despite these reservations, I understand that as a candidate for Governor the public has a right to know that nothing occurred in this incident 29 years ago that would call into question my fitness to be Governor, so I will not object to an unsealing of these court records. The 1993 incident is not a sealed record and I have no objection to the media obtaining it.
The media have asked how I answered questions related to my arrests on the forms I filled out for my security clearance and Senate confirmation. I will provide these answers when I can obtain copies of my submissions. That will take a few days.
I have also been asked if I noted these arrests on forms I filled out to be on the Governor’s Commission on Children, Divorce, and Custody. I don’t believe I was asked to fill out a form related to my service on the Commission. I will ask the Governor’s office if I filled out a form to be on the Commission. If I did, I will make it public.
This has not been an easy week for me or my family. In my worst dreams, I never imagined I would have to publicly deny that I was abusive to anyone, particularly a wife. No one is well-served by dragging up provocative and harmful letters sent in anger during a contentious custody battle – least of all my son and his mother. This morning’s Courant article and responses I have provided put this matter to rest. For the sake of my son, former wife, and current family, I call on the media and my opponents to leave this private matter alone and return to the substantive issues about our candidacies and Connecticut’s future.”
Connecticut Post scribe Ken Dixon has an interesting piece about job creation (or lack of) from guber candidates. Check it out: