HARTFORD, Conn. – Five Democrats and five Republicans were named Thursday to a special House inquiry committee that will recommend whether Gov. John G. Rowland (search) should be impeached.
The three-term Republican governor is under fire for accepting gifts and free work on his vacation cottage from politically connected friends, state employees and a contractor and lying about it. He has said he never returned the favors, but lawmakers from both parties have called for his resignation.
On Thursday, Rowland commended Democratic House Speaker Moira Lyons (search) and Republican House Minority Leader Robert Ward for selecting a bipartisan committee.
"These individuals are all well respected and are regarded as fair and open-minded members. I look forward to a fair and impartial process," he said.
The committee will have the authority to draft articles of impeachment. If the House votes to impeach, the Senate would decide whether to remove Rowland from office.
Republican Rep. Arthur O'Neill, the inquiry committee's co-chairman, said he realizes people want the process wrapped up quickly.
"I am, of course, saddened that we've come to this, but I will take very seriously the responsibility of serving on the committee," O'Neill said. "It's going to take whatever time we need to do a full and thorough investigation."
The House is expected on Monday to set an April 14 deadline for the committee's report.
A poll released Wednesday found 56 percent of Connecticut voters believe Rowland should be impeached and 68 percent believe he should resign. The Quinnipiac University poll of 880 registered voters had a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points.