Democratic lawmakers have asked Plofsky's agency for an opinion on that very issue, and the ethics commission is scheduled to consider the matter Friday.
The law cited by Plofsky is not a criminal statute, but Rowland has learned the hard way that state ethics laws have some teeth: He paid a fine and restitution totaling nearly $9,000 to settle an ethics commission complaint about his acceptance of cut-rate or free vacation accommodations.
On the criminal side of the law, federal prosecutors and the FBI are accelerating their search for evidence linking state contracts to favors to the governor, including vacation stays and work they provided on the Rowlands' Litchfield cottage. These would be the classic quid pro quos that have led to indictments in political corruption cases here and elsewhere.
Although the Tomassos are Rowland's friends and have received more than $100 million in no-bid contracts from his administration, the governor insists that neither they nor anyone else who has provided him with favors ever received any state benefit in return.
Nonetheless, they enabled Rowland to enjoy the perquisites of a lifestyle unavailable to most people. Some examples:
The Hawaii trip.
``It's not just a vacation. It's the rest of your life,'' goes the advertising slogan of the Mauna Kea Resort, which includes a hotel, a golf course designed by famed architect Robert Trent Jones and ``villas'' that rent for $1,100 to $1,400 a night. Condominium rentals cost about $550 a night there. Blau said he has a house, but declined to estimate the value of staying there for ``about a week'' -- as he said the Rowlands and ``a couple of others'' did in late March 2000.
As to the ``couple of others,'' sources have said that the Rowlands were accompanied to Hawaii by Michael and Mary Falvey of Narragansett, R.I., and that they took care of the Rowlands' airfare. When told Friday that sources say she and her husband went on the Hawaii trip, Mary Falvey said, ``That is a private matter and no business of the press.'' Then she hung up. Her husband, the owner of an insurance company, did not return a message inquiring about the trip and airfare.
Rowland, through Garber, would not respond to those questions. Rowland was actually interviewed by phone while he was in Hawaii in March 2000 by a Courant reporter about an unrelated story. His staff has never been willing since then to talk about the vacation arrangements.
Wine bins at local restaurants.
Rowland has at least two ``wine lockers'' at Carmen Anthony restaurants, one in Wethersfield and one in Waterbury, but would not respond to questions about who pays for the bottles of wine placed in them for consumption by him and his friends.
The brass plaque bearing Rowland's name at the Wethersfield restaurant is on the bin next to that of P.J. Delahunty, a top Rowland appointee at the state Department of Public Works. DPW, along with Rowland himself, is a central focus of a federal investigation, more a than year long, into bribery and bid-rigging in lucrative state contracts. Delahunty's private construction company helped renovate Rowland's Litchfield cottage for free.
There is no charge for a wine locker at Carmen Anthony, but a locker holder must purchase 12 bottles of wine from the restaurant initially and always keep at least six bottles on hand -- always purchased from the restaurant, at a 20 percent discount. The extensive wine list ranges from a $20 bottle of vintage 2000 Cote du Rhone to a $245 bottle of Opus One Napa 1996.
Repeated calls to restaurant owner Carmen Vacalebre, an active Republican from Rowland's native Waterbury, were not returned.
Gift certificates to Stackpole.
Sources say that Rowland, since he has become governor, has worn at least one suit and other clothing from Stackpole, Moore & Tryon, Hartford's pricey and best-known haberdashery. During a recent private session with state legislators, Rowland was asked about rumors concerning his acquisitions from the store -- and the topic of whether he received gift certificates came up. Sources said he did not deny it in the meeting, but also did not explain who he got them from.
Rowland's office would not comment when asked for details that might clear up murky circumstances. When Stackpole's owner, Cynthia Gardner Lemery, was asked about Rowland's dealings with the store, she hung up on a Courant reporter.
A Florida stay.
Rowland's biggest defender among local radio talk hosts, Brad Davis of WDRC-AM (1360), confirmed Saturday that the governor and first lady were his guests once during the past several years at the Miami Beach condominium that Davis owns with his wife.
``They were there once ... like a Wednesday to a Sunday,'' Davis said. ``But, I mean, they're friends of mine. What is wrong with that? ... I can't invite who I want? ... I have absolutely no contact with the state or anything else.''
Patricia Rowland makes regular appearances on WDRC with Davis, and the governor, while not a regular, has come on the air with him relatively frequently; the last time was Friday.
``I don't care whether you mention it'' in the newspaper, Davis told a reporter. ``But I'll tell you something right now: You go ahead, but Monday morning, I'm going to have my say, too.''