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More Woes For Conn. Gov

With calls for resignation, rumors of impeachment and a federal investigation swirling, Connecticut Gov. John Rowland's New Year began Thursday with word of another possible ethical lapse.

Rowland has already admitted he lied when he said aides and state contractors did not provide free work to his cottage.

Then he acknowledged that after becoming governor he joined a development group in which another partner was a paving contractor who has received $1.3 million in state contracts during Rowland's tenure.

Now, The New York Times reports Rowland pushed for two children of another partner in that development group to get state jobs. A child of the paving contractor also received a state position.

The patronage charges come weeks after the Hartford Courant, the state's leading newspaper, called for Rowland to step down.

This week, Republican and Democratic state legislators met separately to discuss the procedures for impeachment of a governor, although no move has been made to start that process.

The development group, formed in 1996, bought property near the governor's hometown, Waterbury, and resold it for a profit.

Rowland told The Times he made $60,000 on a $7,200 investment with the consortium — the smallest investment of all partners.

Rowland had disclosed his participation in the investment group, First Development, in his financial disclosure forms, but the names of his partners only emerged recently.

One partner was Michael H. Cicchetti, a friend of Rowland's who handled the governor's divorce from his first wife.

The names of Michael J. Cicchetti and Kara Cicchetti appear in a log of job seekers maintained by the governor's office. Rowland's initials appear next to their names as sponsor. The log is one of the documents investigators have subpoenaed.

The younger Michael became undersecretary of the state's Office of Policy and Management. Kara Cicchetti handled the governor's appointments to boards and commissions, The Times reported.

Another partner in the development group was Anthony Cocchiola, who runs Cocchiola Paving Inc. Since Rowland entered office, the firm has been awarded $1.3 million in contract, including one for work at the State Capitol complex.

Rowland, in a statement, said he "had nothing whatsoever to do with that company obtaining any of those contracts." It was unclear whether the firm had done work for the state before Rowland became governor, The Times reported.

Melissa Cocchiola, a daughter of the contractor, also got a state job.

In 1997, Cocchiola Paving transported soil to Rowland's cottage. The work was valued at $2,000 but was unpaid until questions about Rowland's gifts emerged this year.

Last month, Rowland apologized to reporters and the public for misleading them about gifts he had received, like work on the cottage's ceiling and gutters. Earlier, Rowland had denied getting any such gifts.

Some of those who gave gifts to Rowland are under federal investigation for bid-rigging.

The scandal marks a low point for the governor, who traces his family's lineage in Connecticut back 200 years. Rowland first entered politics at 23, winning election to the state legislature. Four years later, voters sent him to Congress for the first of three terms.

Rowland lost a gubernatorial bid in 1990, but was elected in 1994, and reelected in 1998 and 2002 by comfortable margins; he netted 56 percent of the vote in the last race.

If he completes his term, he will be the longest serving Connecticut governor since Colonial times, according to a biography on the website of the National Governor's Association.

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