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Republican connecticut charged with bribing bid rigging

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Status of Conn. Governor in Probe Changes
Associated Press Writers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)--Gov. John G. Rowland's status in a federal corruption probe has changed from ``witness'' to ``subject,'' sources with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Thursday the change to a``subject'' means a person's actions are within the scope of the federal investigation. The source said that is different from being a ``target'' of the probe--someone the government believes has committed a crime.

A federal grand jury has been investigating alleged bribery and bid-rigging within the Republican administration.

Rowland received a subpoena this week seeking all documents relating to improvements at his Litchfield County vacation cottage. The three-term Republican admitted last month that he lied when he initially denied that some of the work was paid for by politically appointed state employees, friends and a state contractor.

He has not been charged with any crime, and he says he never gave any favors in return for the gifts.

Two law enforcement officials in Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that a section of the Justice Department that investigates public corruption is consulting in the probe. The section can take over investigations in some cases, though it has not done so in the Rowland probe.

Meanwhile, House Democrats agreed Thursday they have to do one of two things: form an investigatory committee with subpoena powers or start the impeachment process. A decision was not immediately made, but leaders said rank-and-file Democrats were leaning toward impeachment.

House Speaker Moira Lyons, a Democrat, said most of her rank-and-file members favored an impeachment committee or an investigatory committee. Of those lawmakers, a majority supported conducting the impeachment investigation, she said.

House Republicans are scheduled to meet Friday.

Rowland asked the public for forgiveness during a television appearance Wednesday.

Several of those who provided gifts to the governor are at the center of a federal corruption probe into the steering of state contracts.

Any impeachment proceedings would begin in the House, where there are 95 Democrats and 56 Republicans. Impeached officials are tried by the Senate and can be removed from office by a two-thirds vote. There are 21 Democrats in the Senate and 15 Republicans.

Also Thursday, the first Republican state senator called on Rowland to resign. Sen. John Kissel said it was a difficult decision for him but he believes Rowland should step down for the good of his constituents.


Associated Press Writers Diane Scarponi and Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report; Solomon contributed to this story from Washington.

AP-NY-01-09-04 0752EST

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP Online news report may not be published, broadcast or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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