Gov. John G. Rowland asked the state for the chance "to earn back your trust" Wednesday as he delivered a televised address that came amid growing pressure to resign for accepting gifts at his summer cottage and lying about it.
Rowland again apologized for his actions, saying "I lied and there are no excuses," but he insisted he never provided any favors or took any actions in exchange for the gifts.
"Tonight, I humbly ask for a renewed opportunity to earn back your trust, to redeem myself in your eyes and to continue to lead this state," Rowland said.
The three-term Republican, who was once considered a rising star in the national party, said only he is to blame for a situation he described as "my own personal nightmare."
"As you can imagine, I've had many sleepless nights over the past few weeks. I've wrestled with John Rowland the governor and the mess I've created," said the 46-year-old, looking straight into the camera. "But I've also wrestled with John Rowland the person."
The speech is part of Rowland's strategy to talk to the public and to as many legislators as possible about his acceptance of gifts for the renovation of the cottage. The gifts ranged from gutters to a hot tub.
Some lawmakers have called for Rowland to resign, and there is some support in the Legislature to pursue impeachment. Five newspapers have called for his resignation.
The address comes a day after the Republican had a closed-door meeting with six legislative leaders, and a day after federal agents issued a subpoena for the governor's personal financial records.
On Thursday, Democrats who control the House of Representatives plan to discuss whether to begin impeachment proceedings.
Democratic Speaker Moira Lyons, who would have the ultimate say whether to appoint a committee to study impeachment, said she thought Rowland was somber and sincere in his apology.
"However, given the drip, drip, drip of the very egregious revelations, I think that is a very huge hurdle to tackle," she said.
"The governor's made-for-television speech was just another feeble attempt at damage control and it is too late for apologies and spin," said House Majority Leader James Amann, a Democrat.
Rowland admitted he accepted gifts and improvements to his lakeside cottage from politically appointed state employees and from the Tomasso Group, a contractor that is part of a federal investigation into corruption in Rowland's administration.
Those who provided gifts include Lawrence Alibozek, a former aide who has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he took payoffs to help steer contracts. Federal agents have subpoenaed Tomasso and state agencies that had contracts with the group.
Some subcontractors have said they were promised they would get state work, possibly at the governor's official residence, if they gave Rowland a bargain price for renovations.
Rowland has denied he made any such promises and said he did not know of anyone else making such promises. He has not been charged with any crimes.
Last week, federal investigators subpoenaed the state Department of Public Works for all documents relating to any construction and renovations made at the governor's residence in Hartford. The department oversees the property.
A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found 56 percent of Connecticut voters believe Rowland should resign, up from 44 percent in a Quinnipiac poll released Dec. 17, shortly after the governor first admitted he lied. Thirteen percent said Rowland is honest and trustworthy, down from 18 percent in the Dec. 17 poll.
The latest poll of 1,006 registered voters was conducted Jan. 4-6 and had a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points.
By Susan Haigh