Resignation and Impeachment: Two Separate Processes

January 27, 2004

Perhaps no political issue has ever gripped the State of Connecticut to a greater extent than the current controversy surrounding Governor John Rowland. As I am sure most of you are aware, Governor Rowland has admitted to both accepting gifts from individuals who conduct business with the state and then lying about it.

I realize that I hold a solemn duty to represent the citizens of the 34th district and to make decisions that I believe are best for the long term good of the people of East Haven, North Haven, and Wallingford. With that responsibility in mind, on Friday, January 9th I wrote a letter to Governor Rowland asking that he resign from office. By the following Monday, 11 of the 15 Republican State Senators had called on the Governor to step aside.

In the days and weeks that followed, the Speaker of the House of Representatives took steps towards a possible impeachment of the Governor by announcing the formation an Investigative Committee that will consist of ten State Representatives. Their job will be to look into Governor Rowland’s actions and determine whether or not they warrant the legislature moving forward with the impeachment process.

In the unfortunate circumstance that we actually reach an impeachment hearing, it would be held in the House of Representatives. If the Governor were then impeached, a trial would be held in the State Senate to determine whether the Governor should be removed from office where I, along with the other 35 Senators would sit as jurors.

We would have the awesome responsibility to listen to all the facts, witnesses and arguments presented by all parties. Then we would be given the charge as approved by the House of Representatives. It would then be up to the Senate to examine and determine if the evidence at trial meets the standards set by the House of Representatives. This deliberation would be based purely on the evidence presented as weighed against the charge by the House.

It is absolutely critical to note that my decision to call for the Governor’s resignation has no bearing on my potential vote as a juror in a trial as that decision is different than the decision to ask Governor Rowland to resign. The vote for impeachment is based upon a specific standard as opposed to the issue of resignation, which is based upon my personal belief that Governor Rowland has lost the trust and confidence of the people of the State of Connecticut. I have no preconceived notions of any decision I would make as a potential juror and I would look at the articles of impeachment and weigh any evidence accordingly.

The decision on impeaching and removing a sitting Governor from office would be made by the 187 state legislators currently in office. The tremendous responsibility that this entails is not lost on any of us and thus the standards for impeachments will be strict. In my eyes, these standards cannot be limited to a minor offense nor a momentary ethical lapse. Rather, the impeachable offenses must be determined to be so great and so severe that the Governor is deemed no longer fit to hold the office he was elected to.

Furthermore, impeachment and removal from office would set an enormous precedent that could define how elected officials are handled by their peers for years and years to come. That fact alone demonstrates the vast difference in weight between a vote on an individual’s removal from office and a simple call for his or her resignation.

But I truly hope for the good of the state that we do not reach that point. I do not want to see the state go through a potentially paralyzing impeachment process and that is a major reason I believe the Governor should step down now. His problems inevitably will continue to dominate talk at the State Capitol and take precedence over other more important state issues. We need to concentrate our resources on improving the state’s economy, lowering prescription drug costs, and improving education, among many other matters.

I realize that this is a difficult time for the people of Connecticut, but I pledge to you the citizens of East Haven, North Haven, and Wallingford that I will proceed with caution in this manner and continue to act in your best interests. I welcome your input into this critical matter.