Conn. Democrats Mull Impeaching Rowland

State House Democrats met Thursday to discuss whether the House should look into impeaching Gov. John G. Rowland (search), who has been criticized for accepting free renovations at his summer cottage and lying about it.

The caucus was being held behind closed doors at the Capitol. Speaker Moira Lyons (search), a Democrat, would have the final say on whether to appoint a committee to study impeachment. Several Democrats have urged her to do so, and some also have called for Rowland to resign.

The three-term Republican governor asked the public for forgiveness during a television appearance Wednesday and said he never provided any favors for people who gave him gifts at the cottage. Several of those who provided gifts to the governor are at the center of a federal corruption probe into the steering of state contracts.

Rowland has not been charged with any crime.

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.

Lyons said after Rowland's speech that the governor appeared sincere in his attempt to regain the public's trust. "However, given the drip, drip, drip of the very egregious revelations, I think that is a very huge hurdle to tackle," she said.

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

Meanwhile, 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.