November 1, 2005

Roger Begin and the Appearance of Corruption

Carroll Andrew Morse

Which member of the state Board of Elections made this statement about the BOE case concerning Republican advertisements during the 2002 election...

"I made the decision summarily on my own that, no, the proposed settlement terms that the governor and the Republican Party were suggesting were entirely inappropriate and unacceptable to me as the complainant and I would not participate and agree to any such settlement terms. . . . Let the chips fall where they may."
Actually, it wasn't a board member. It was State Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch, on the Dan Yorke show, as quoted by Katherine Gregg in the Projo. I know that Lynch brought the original complaint, but does that give him the power to decide it?

Maybe it doesn't matter. According to apparent Board of Elections practice, you don't have to be involved with the case in any way to have a voice in deciding it. You only need be a member of the state's Democratic leadership! Here's Edward Achorn, in today's Projo...

Last week, we learned that Roger Begin, chairman of the state Board of Elections and a former Democratic lieutenant governor, had chosen to run the idea of settlement of a politically explosive case involving the governor past Speaker Murphy and Senate President Joseph Montalbano.

Remember, campaign finance-related limitations on political speech have been approved by the courts because the courts have found that government has a compelling interest in preventing -- not just corruption -- but the appearance of corruption. The behavior of the Rhode Island Board of Elections is not serving this purpose. The board is now doing more to create the appearance of corruption than it is to prevent it, and the BOE needs to do something to remedy the situation.

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The appearance of corruption??
Not sure what I find more shocking.
The silence of the RI Republican party
The silence of the Board of Elections over the obvious ethical and potentially illegal activities of Begin in his capacity as chairman of the board.

The stench of this is too strong to be ignored.

Posted by: Tim at November 2, 2005 8:39 AM

What's the problem???

Of course Begin had to "axk puhmission frum Massuh' Murphy!"

Posted by: Tom W at November 2, 2005 10:01 AM

It is quite puzzling how the chairman of the board of elections admits to unethical (if not illegal) behavior involving a case r/t the Republican party and the governor but rather than using this ocassion to draw attention to this corrupt board and their practices the Republicans issue one press release on friday and have been quiet as church mice ever since.
For governor Carcieri not to be calling for the u.s. attorney to get take a look at this is very troubling in and of itself.
Why so quiet governor?

Posted by: Tim at November 2, 2005 10:37 AM

tim, this situation involves lawyers, and we all know how slow lawyers like to move.

im sure much of the discussin is happening behind the media,and the public's eye.

Posted by: robert at November 2, 2005 12:56 PM


As a person who regularly files reports at the BoE on behalf of others, I'm inclined to agree that the current atmosphere of partisanship there reeks badly. I for one don't trust them to do the right thing under almost any circumstance.

I'm pretty sure that there's a lot more happening behind closed doors than you're reading in the newspaper or hearing on the radio. Stay tuned!

Posted by: Will at November 2, 2005 2:09 PM

robert and will i certainly hope you guys are right.
no doubt with me that there's a really big story here that's waiting to be told by the broader media but only dan yorke seems to be working on it.
i find the media blackout on this story very curious and that's why i want the governor to come out and say something.
that would shine a white hot media spotlight on this issue that the entire media could not avoid even if they wanted to.
will, a question.
are the republicans on that board legit or are they rino's who go along with the corruption of begin to get along.
not saying they had any knowledge of what was going on in this instance but their lack of reponse raises questions about the ethical standing of the board as a whole as well as the individual board members.
been shocked by their lack of action after begin ran his mouth and admitted corrupt practices to the providence journal.
it doesn't get much worse than a corrupt board of elections.

Posted by: Tim at November 2, 2005 6:53 PM

one last thing guys.
what has happened to ocg?
i know they're really involved in their voter initiative drive but why aren't they speaking out on this?
is ocg incapable of multi-tasking?
phil west and common cause being quiet i understnad with west being a sad little toady for the democrat house leadership but where is ocg on this?
it's like everyone is asleep as this simmering story of potential major corruption slips right on by.
i don't understand!

Posted by: Tim at November 2, 2005 7:22 PM

There is one actual Republican on the board, though his name escapes me. The BoE Vice-Chair has has tried to lead a revolt of sorts against Begin, leading to the no-confidence vote in him not too long ago. Begin has basically ignored it. As you might recall, the BoE's former Executive Director was as corrupt as an official could get, but as expected, he got a slap on the wrist from the AG's office. As with virtually everything Rhode Island, it is not a 50/50 "bipartisan" board as one might expect. It is heavily dominated by Democratic cronies and hacks, including former Dem politicians like Begin, who know exactly to whom they owe allegiance -- and it ain't us!

OCG is very much alive. I am a member of that, too. Right now, they are heavily focused on the Voter Initiative drive, perhaps with a little tunnel vision. I'm pretty sure that I recently heard Bob Arruda quoted somewhere about this, but I would also like them to take a more public stand about it. I think this story has legs.

As with almost every group who is not on the inside of things, there is the at least the hint that seems to be universally believed, that if you cross them the wrong way, that they will find a way to make your life miserable. It's a climate of fear that encourages politicians to keep silent, and I for one think it stinks badly. I am very hopeful of what is happening behind the scenes, and will be most pleased when they are exposed for what they are. They are great examples of what happens when the fox guards the hen house.

Posted by: Will at November 3, 2005 12:36 AM