December 14, 2005

WSJ Notes: Laffey Donated to Democrat Senatorial Candidates

Marc Comtois

James Taranto's Best of the Web Today is an entertaining read, but Taranto is off today and in his place is a sampling of the Wall Street Journals "Political Diary" (no permalink, unfortunately). Included in this sampler is a bit by Brendan Miniter about our own Chafee/Laffey contest. After noting that Laffey has gotten the support of The Club for Growth, "a political action committee with a reputation for backing conservative challengers against liberal Republicans," Miniter outlines the challenge facing Mayor Laffey:

. . . if Mr. Laffey hopes to win the hearts of conservatives nationwide by unseating Senator Chafee, he'll first have to explain a few things about his own record. As mayor of Cranston for the past three years, Mr. Laffey has increased taxes three times. The city now has one of the highest property tax rates in the state, and Mr. Laffey has said Cranston may "need" an additional tax hike in 2007. And while living in Tennessee in the 1990s, he gave money to Democratic senatorial candidates who ran against former Republican Sen. Fred Thompson and the current Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He even made a campaign contribution to Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Such donations can probably be chalked up to the pragmatic doings of businessman seeking to play his cards right for political/business reasons. However, such pragmatism will lead some to question Mayor Laffey's committment to the conservative ideals he so often proclaims.

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'Bugs' on Laffey site spin Web of intrigue

"What can you say? It's so ludicrous it's funny," says a former ally of the mayor, whose image on Laffey's Web site has now been pixeled. The mayor blames hackers, possibly even "space invaders."

01:00 AM EST on Thursday, December 15, 2005

Journal State House Bureau

Who says the past can't be changed?

Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey has apparently been making some revisionist history -- digitally removing a one-time political ally turned foe from all images on his Web site.

The photos remain, but the space where former City Councilman Randall A. Jackvony once stood has been replaced by rainbow-colored pixels.

Call it the case of the missing politician.

Laffey, who is running for U.S. Senate, denies responsibility for Jackvony's disappearance, suggesting that "hackers and perhaps even space invaders or extraterrestrials" altered the photos.

"What can you say? It's so ludicrous it's funny," Jackvony said. "A mature adult would just remove pictures from their Web site.

"It gives you the sort of mindset of his whole campaign -- which is, there's one way to do things and people that may disagree with him are not treated in a respectful manner," Jackvony added. "I would question if the people of Rhode Island want that type of person representing them in the United States Senate."

When Laffey first ran for mayor in 2002, he backed Jackvony, a fellow Republican also making his first bid for elected office. Anytime Laffey walked through one of the city's wards, he would invite Jackvony and other Republicans along.

Several photos from those walks were placed on Laffey's campaign site:

But in the next two years, Jackvony and Laffey had a falling out. Jackvony said he disagreed with the mayor's style and didn't want to be a rubber stamp. On several votes, Jackvony was the only Republican to break rank with the mayor.

In 2004, Laffey hand-picked and financed a candidate who beat Jackvony in the Republican primary.

"He successfully railroaded me off the council," Jackvony said.

Now, Jackvony has vanished from at least two photos taken on the campaign trail.

A third photo of Jackvony, his wife, his sister and her three children at a campaign event, is completely blurred out. The caption reads: "Many families were out in force for the big day."

However, an old -- unaltered -- version of the photo found at clearly shows Jackvony and reads: "The Jackvony family was out in force for the big day."

The photos appear to have been altered during a site redesign in May 2004.

When first asked about the photos, Laffey's campaign simply referred to a disclaimer posted on the Web site.

"Please Note: Like many things in life image files can become corrupt over time," the disclaimer reads. "Several files from our original archive that depicted people and events from the 2002 Mayoral campaign may have become corrupt or damaged. Hackers and perhaps even space invaders or extraterrestrials may also have gotten past our rigid security firewall and tampered with some files."

Yesterday, campaign manager John P. Dodenhoff added: "Apparently Mr. Jackvony is humor impaired. Our campaign is all about talking about important, serious issues, but we obviously have a lot of fun while we do it. Mr. Jackvony, in our opinion, needs to lighten up."

The site's archives still contain photos of Laffey with Governor Carcieri, several other politicians and even photos of Laffey being interviewed by Providence Journal reporters over the years. None of those people have been pixeled, blurred or erased.

For Jackvony, the space invader theory can be summed up in two words: "Oh please."

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