By SUSAN HAIGH
STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s hotly contested rematch for governor got personal Thursday night, with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy bringing up Republican businessman Tom Foley’s decades-old arrests and Foley resurrecting a 2004-05 corruption investigation into Malloy.
The hour-long debate, aired live on FoxCT, started off with the typical fight between Malloy and Foley over taxes and the economy. But by the end, each was criticizing the other’s integrity.
Afterward, Malloy blamed Foley for making it personal, telling reporters he “took it time, after time, after time” from Foley during the debate, their second in a week, before bringing up the old arrests.
“You heard what he said about me, questioning my integrity time and time again,” Malloy told reporters. “If we’re going to talk about integrity and we’re going to talk about temperament, then somebody who has been through the challenges that he has been through, not just once but twice, I thought was a reasonable subject to bring up in light of what he was saying.”
Foley made reference to an investigation by the chief state’s attorney’s office into Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, and whether city contractors received preferential treatment in return for doing work on Malloy’s house.
Malloy was eventually cleared: Then-Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano issued a statement saying investigators and prosecutors concluded “there is no credible evidence of criminal wrongdoing” and “probable cause does not exist for any criminal violations.”
Foley said he believes the voters should know about the probe.
“It’s an important piece of information to know about the governor,” Foley told reporters afterward. “We were asked about integrity and character. You know, listen, if you’ve been investigated while serving in a public office for serious crime, I think the voters should know that.”
Malloy waited until the end of the debate to raise the issue of Foley’s past arrests, an issue in their 2010 race.
Foley acknowledged four years ago that he answered “no” on two federal security clearance forms about whether he’d ever been arrested for a felony. He said he didn’t believe the charge he faced in a 1981 car accident was a felony.
Foley, who has been arrested twice but not convicted, told The Associated Press in 2010 that he believed he accurately answered the questions when he filled out the lengthy questionnaires as part his White House appoints as U.S. ambassador to Ireland in 2006 and director of private sector development for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003.
Foley was accused of driving into some parked vehicles in Southampton, New York, in 1981. He has acknowledged spending a night in jail but said no one was injured in the incident and those who filed the complaint later dropped the matter.
Foley has also confirmed he was charged in 1993 with what he believed was breach of peace following a domestic incident with his now former wife, Lisa Foley. The couple went through a protracted divorce and custody battle. She had accused him of trying to drive her and their son off a road in 1993, a charge he has denied.
Malloy told reporters after the debate, held at UConn’s Storrs campus: “I never lied to the FBI. I’ve never been arrested. That’s who I am and what I am. I never drove my wife off a road.”
Foley said many of Malloy’s accusations, including his claims in TV ads that Foley closed a textile factory and harmed workers, are untrue. He said he asked the governor at the end of the debate, while both were still on stage, to call a truce and stop any further personal attacks. He said the voters care much more about economic issues.