Tom Foley, the Republican Party nominee for governor, went to bed on Thursday thinking well of himself and woke up on Friday a near criminal. Two of his Republican primary opponents have called upon him in tones once used by James Cagney to “come clean” and release his arrest records.
According to a story written by Jon Lender, a superb digger and investigative reporter at the Hartford Courant, Foley was arrested 29 years ago for having bumped a car with his car. Foley was charged with first-degree attempted assault for having “rammed a vehicle, placing the occupants in fear of serious physical injury,” according to a July 2, 1981 story in the Southampton Press newspaper. The charges were later dropped.
The second arrest involved a dispute with his wife during what is described as a messy divorce. In politics, divorces are a dime a dozen, though not always messy. Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker, for instance, shed about half as many wives as Henry VIII, apparently without incident. U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman were both divorced and re-married. Unlucky in divorce, if not in love – Foley and his second wife are expecting the birth of a child soon – the gubernatorial hopeful found himself, one day nearly three decades ago, remonstrating with his soon to be divorced wife over their son. Both were arrested. The charges later were dropped.
Unlike other Connecticut pols who spent a good amount of time in the slammer – Phil Giordano, the mayor of Waterbury who molested young girls in his office, or Joe Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport, who was remunerated for political favors, or state senator Ernest Newton, convicted of receiving a bribe and using campaign contributions as a private piggy bank, or Governor John Rowland, who sold his office for a mess of pottage – Foley cooled his heels in jail for only one night while awaiting the arrival of a lawyer next day. Both his arrests were the result of personal rather than political misbehavior.
There are as yet two unanswered questions: 1) Should Foley release to the media his arrest records? He should, unless the release of the records will disturb other legal arrangements he has made with his former wife. Why bait the sharks if there is no harmful skeleton locked away in the records? And 2) Did the information received by Lender come from some other politician who has an interest in the gubernatorial race?
Lender offers a tantalizing tidbit concerning the provenance of the story. The records obtained by the Courant were not given to the paper by Foley’s ex-wife. They were included in a mass of documents assembled during the administration of former governor Rowland – and were ferried from the gubernatorial office by whom?
We may never know, even if Foley does arrange to release the arrest records, as has been suggested by nearly every contender for the gubernatorial slot, all of whom would stand to benefit from the release.
A few weeks ago, a damaging report published by the New York Times concerning Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s fraudulent claims of service in Vietnam were partially softened by reports in the press that some of the information had been shuttled to the Times by the Linda McMahon campaign. Apparently the provenance of information does matter, at least when the reports tell against Democrats favored by Connecticut’s liberal media.
Those who stand to benefit immediately from the release of the records are present Lieutenant Governor Mike Fedele and Oz Griebel, both running for governor as Republicans. Waiting in the wings ready to pounce are Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont, Democrat gubernatorial hopefuls. Foley has characterized the Lender story as fair, well written and comprehensive. No other vital information, he insists, would be forthcoming from a release of the arrect reports. So far, Foley has told his political opponents to go take a hike, but the clamor for the release of the documents is still in its larval stage.