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Lawyers for former Connecticut governor seek dismissal of campaign charges

By Richard Weizel

NEW HAVEN Conn. (Reuters) - Attorneys for former Connecticut Governor John Rowland, forced to resign a decade ago for corruption, have asked that new campaign finance violation charges he faces be dismissed on grounds they are unconstitutional.

Rowland was indicted in April on seven charges including conspiracy and falsifying records that accuse him of trying to conceal payments from two congressional campaigns that he worked on as a consultant in 2009 and 2012.

The 57-year-old Republican has pleaded not guilty.

Seeking to have a number of the new charges dismissed, Rowland's lawyers argue that the campaign finance restrictions cited by prosecutors are unconstitutional in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down limits on how much individuals can donate in an election cycle.

The high court decision allows donors to give money to as many political candidates, parties and committees as they wish.

His trial is set to begin in August.

Rowland's attorneys also have asked that jurors be barred from hearing about his earlier conviction, which forced him from office in 2004 and sent him to prison for ten months.

The motions were filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Haven.

The case against Rowland involves former Republican candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, who prosecutors say agreed to pay Rowland $35,000 in an illegal contract in which he worked as a political consultant.

Prosecutors claim the contract called for Rowland to be paid for non-existent work at nursing homes operated by Brian Foley, and that the payments to Rowland amounted to illegal contributions by Brian Foley to his wife's campaign.

The couple has pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

Rowland served as Connecticut governor from 1995 to 2004, when he pleaded guilty to accepting gifts from people who had been awarded lucrative state contracts.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Diane Craft)

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