Panel Named to Decide Fate of CT Governor

A special House inquiry committee of five Democrats and five Republicans will recommend whether Gov. John G. Rowland (search) should be impeached for lying about accepting gifts for his summer house.

On Thursday, Rowland commended Democratic House Speaker Moira Lyons (search) and Republican House Minority Leader Robert Ward (search) 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 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.

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.