August 2, 2006

Kerry King Names Names

Carroll Andrew Morse

Kerry King, candidate for the Rhode Island Lieutenant Governorship, is being very specific when talking about a culture of corruption in Rhode Island. Mr. King has called on state legislators Joseph Montalbano, Timothy Williamson, Raymond Gallison and Grace Diaz to resign for what he believes to be violations of the state constitution's ethics clause (Article III, section 7)…

Ethical conduct. -- The people of the state of Rhode Island believe that public officials and employees must adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, respect the public trust and the rights of all persons, be open, accountable and responsive, avoid the appearance of impropriety and not use their position for private gain or advantage. Such persons shall hold their positions during good behavior.

In a press release, the King campaign laid out the following reasons for naming the four legislators…

  • Representative Tim Williamson - Has played the role of a West Warwick Town Solicitor and chief advocate for the Harrah's/ Narragansett Indian casino deal. His law firm has billed the town over $600,000. Harrah's has then contributed over $1,000,000 to the town to help with the expenses of casino advocacy. Williamson is also pushing the General Assembly to amend the Constitution to give Harrah's the exclusive right to build a casino in West Warwick.
  • Senate President Montalbano - The State Ethics Commission voted to investigate Montalbano for failing to disclose that he worked as a lawyer for the Town Of West Warwick while he was supporting pro casino legislation at the state house earning, over $86,000 in fees.
  • Representative Ray Gallison - Gallison receives over $50,000 per year as an employee of Alternative Education Programming that is funded each year by a legislative grant of $280,000. He serves on the House Finance Committee and is joined by retired URI employee Leo Di Maio, who is also paid over $50,000 per year. Di Maio has had consulting contracts from former disgraced Speaker of the House, John Harwood.
  • Representative Grace Diaz – Is the owner of a day care center funded with state dollars. RI is the only state in the US to provide state subsidized day care to the tune of $80,000,000 per year. Last year union bosses tried to ram through a bill that would have unionized the workers, most of whom work out of their homes.
In the Pawtucket Times' coverage Mr. King's anti-corruption platform, Jim Baron has reactions from Representatives Williamson and Gallison, as well as a general reaction from House Speaker William Murphy.

Mr. King proposes the following six changes to reduce the influence of special interests on the government…
  1. Prohibit General Assembly members and their business firms from representing special interests with business before the State or local towns and cities
  2. Prohibit all elected municipal and state officials from accepting contributions from anyone doing business with state or local governments.
  3. Ban businesses owned by state or municipal officials from doing business with local or state governments.
  4. Require that all the State’s constitutional officers have no outside business interests whatsoever.
  5. Disallow any General Assembly member from serving as an employee, officer or Board member of any organization funded with a state grant.
  6. Stop union officers from serving on the Boards of state sponsored organizations or companies that do business with state or local governments.
…as well as six steps to improve the enforcement of both new and existing anti-corruption law…
  1. Create within the Attorney General’s Office a Public Corruption Unit dedicated solely to investigating and prosecuting corruption.
  2. Give the Public Corruption Unit the tools it needs to catch violators: lawyers, investigators, accountants and budget. (In the real world, you can’t fight corruption without the proper resources)
  3. In cases where a conflict exists within the Attorney General’s Office, appoint outside special counsel to investigate and prosecute.
  4. Pay big rewards for information leading to corruption convictions, say $100,000. And grant whistle-blowers anonymity. In doing so, end the problem where people are afraid of reporting crime or think it’s just not worth it.
  5. Create a stronger working relationship involving the local FBI, the AG office, and the State Ethics Commission to share leads, evidence, and investigative and prosecutorial resources. (The FBI nationally accounts for 80% of all state-level corruption convictions. Imagine how much better state agencies could do with FBI collaboration and vise versa.
  6. Create a “Drop a Dime on Corruption” hotline. Then share hotline reports with the FBI/AG/ Ethics Commission partnership.
Mr. King intends to send his “Rhode Island Anti-Corruption Plan” to every “Rhode Island legislative office seeker and holder”, along with a pledge card that reads as follows…
By signing this document I agree that we have to change Rhode Island’s negative image of political corruption. It is the largest stain on our proud state’s reputation. This is not a partisan issue, it’s an ethic’s issue and we must become the state with the most open and accountable state government in America. We also must work to ensure that our children and grandchildren do not have to suffer because of the misdeeds of unethical politicians.

Today I am signing onto the “Rhode Island Anti-Corruption Plan” and will serve as a co-sponsor of this legislation when I am sworn into office in January.”

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Yipee. File a complaint with the Ethics Commission or shut up, Kerry. You're just making yourself look bad. And I AGREE with you.

Posted by: Greg at August 2, 2006 3:05 PM

I also agree with mr. king -- in principle. And though I realize that corruption is one of the top-3 issues on people's minds, what does the king campaign expect to actually DO about the problem if he's elected Lt. Gov?

Just like G. De Ramel's "breath of fresh air" campaign for SOS, what can the Lt. Gov. or SOS for that matter REALLY do about cleaning up gov't corruption? Like I said, I agree with Mr. King, but isn't this anti-corruption effort simply an attempt by general officer candidates (such as G. De Ramel and Kerry King) with little public relevancy to give a greater definition to their desired offices?

So, to DeRamel, King, et al, I say: stick to the issues that your desired offices truly address. Don't try to pass off water as wine: the Lt. Gov. has important functions in addressing healthcare and emergency preparedness -- stick to it. The SOS has an important function to preserve open records and clean elections. We all want to "save Rhode Island from public corruption" but aside from taking the initiative to file appropriate legal or ethical complaints, I cannot help but think that this is simply political posturing.

While I applaud Mr. King's concern over rooting out public corruption (Lord knows we need all the help we can get), I would have been more impressed had he taken some meaningful legal action.

Political self-inflation does not reflect well on any candidate in the end. All it does it offer promises that cannot be fullfilled, and Mr. King would be wise to avoid it.

Posted by: johnb at August 2, 2006 3:25 PM

Negative campaigning equals you won't win Mr. King. This guy Kerry King is a self serving, arrogant tool anyway. Nice work Kerry!

Posted by: Rino Cooke at August 2, 2006 4:42 PM

While I support King's concept, I have some concerns about his proposal.

1. "Prohibit all elected municipal and state officials from accepting contributions from anyone doing business with state or local governments."

This provision is overly-broad and there are serious 1st Amendment and free speech issues in doing this.

2. "Require that all the State’s constitutional officers have no outside business interests whatsoever."

What are we left with? Career politicians, unionized teachers and government employees, and retirees. We need to attract more people with business backgrounds INTO politics, not work to prevent them from running. If the problem is people with conflicts of interest, address the problem--the conflicts.

3. "Disallow any General Assembly member from serving as an employee, officer or Board member of any organization funded with a state grant."

I agree that General Assembly members should not serve as an employee of an organizaton that receives state grants. But the point of a board is to provide oversight of an organization. If state money is going to an organization, it makes sense to allow legislators to sit on a board, provided that the position does not receive compensation.

Posted by: Anthony at August 2, 2006 4:56 PM

I like King's anti-corruption ideas in general, and that he is naming names. It's about time that someone stated the obvious, instead of tiptoeing around the edges. My only complaint here is, "why only 4"? That list should be a whole lot longer! You could easily have a "top 10 list" or a "dirty dozen"!

Posted by: Will at August 3, 2006 1:49 AM

I think Kerry King is a RISC puppet. Sorry moderator but, I do believe he is schill.

Posted by: Rino Cooke at August 3, 2006 10:03 AM

Dear Will,

You are absolutely correct. Allow me to fill out the list of nominations:

1. Rep. Singleton. Funny what water can make you do. Maybe Dan Yorke might get to be a witness.

2. Jeff Grybowski. Gotta love those no-bid contracts going to his old law firm. By the way, why do they still cut him checks?

3. Jeff Britt. Someone please tell him that Rocky Point and Condos just don't mix. No, just because Mayor Avedisian waved his magic wand won't make it any better.

4. Governor Carcieri. Has everyone forgotten that there's another ethics complaint lying dormant waiting for the Board of Elections to finish its business? Offering bribes to the former BOE Chairman is not a way to exhibit ethical behavior.

5. Adelita Orefice. I understand investigators have already stumbled upon the "shakedown". At least they could have made it look like she wrote the letter instead of just signing it. (Thanks again to Dan Yorke)

6. Spence Maguire. Double dipping, tell me it's not true. If meeting with John Harwood wasn't bad enough, now we find this. He takes contributions from RWU employees, where he goes to school, and Foxwood employees, thought he hated casinos. (Somebody needs to ask Spence if the death of that fine lady at Lincoln keeps him up at night.)

7. Kerry King himself. First, he doesn't vote here. Then, the wife doesn't vote here. He says he's in line with Governor's policy on LNG but takes contributions from pro-LNG sources.

Just thought I could help.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at August 4, 2006 9:06 AM

Your posts are filled with innuendo. I'm unfamiliar with some of your points, but let me address a couple of things--

1. Grybowski: The executive branch has a right to determine which law firm it retains. It's not like buying a box of staples. You could probably bid legal work and find a lawyer to do work for $25 an hour, but would you trust them? Would they provide the best legal representation?

You accuse Grybowski of being on his old firm's payroll? If this is the case, provide the details.

2. The Board of Elections issue is so old and tainted by inappropriate partisan Democrat interference that it makes you guys look far worse than it does Carcieri. I only hope this issue gets more press, because every time it does, Carcieri's poll numbers seem to go up. Maybe Guy Dufault can hold a press conference about it. That would be ideal.

3. You've pointed out nothing wrong with Spencer Maguire's campaign contributions. He took campaign contributions from Foxwoods employees? I bet most Foxwoods employees share Maguire's views on a Rhode Island casino. You seem to ass-ume that the only reason someone would oppose a casino is for moral grounds, but there are very real economic reasons for opposing the casino.

I don't know about Britt or Orefice, but do you ever get tired of engaging in unsubstantied character assassination?

How do you morally justify it to yourself when you go to sleep at night? Do you just believe that the means justify the ends?

Posted by: Anthony at August 4, 2006 11:04 AM

Dear Anthony,

When things are either common knowledge on the hill, Grybowski, writes a really dumb email (yes - copies are available) where he calls members of the medical profession "lemmings", Singleton or the person themselves takes to bragging about their misdeeds at an open meeting, Britt, or gets posted on Dan Yorke's website, Orefice, or it makes the newspaper, Maguire and Carcieri, I don't think it's unsubstantiated.

However, if you still are a disbeliever, I understand. It took me alsmost a year to accept the Monica thing.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at August 4, 2006 4:11 PM

If you're going to make those assertions, you should at least post the substantiating information.

Then you can go back to enjoy watching Steve Laffey destroy the GOP Senate majority.

I don't know about you, but at one point I thought you had to be smart to go to Harvard...I may disagree with Jack Reed, but he masters the political game fairly well...what do you think went wrong with Laffey?

Posted by: Anthony at August 4, 2006 6:24 PM

Dear Anthony,

It is the same thing we ran into when we nominated John Kerry:

Trying to switch branches can make a fool out of anybody since they are at cross purposes with each other. Therefore, what you propose to do in the future is automatically at odds with the way you've conducted your past.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at August 4, 2006 10:04 PM


Where is the fire? Nice collection of names but not much else. I've got to tell you Bob I laughed out loud when I saw the name "Orefice" in your list. The Beacon Mutual Whisteblower has made the Boss of the Lemmings unhappy I presume? lol What do they have you doing about this Bob? Writing letters? With all do lack of respect Bob you are losing your mojo. But I do understand why you would take offense at the word "lemmings". lol

Posted by: Tim at August 5, 2006 9:00 AM

Dear Tim,

I already helped get her "fired" once.

Twice is probably beyond the scope of our collective abilities.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at August 5, 2006 9:43 AM

Well congratulations to Kerry King. He's finally got poeple talking about really ending corruption in our state. Maybe's he's just what this state needs: A non-politician who isn't afraid to speak the truth. Maybe Reggie might tell the trust about his failures as head of Emergency Management, like having no hurricane plan and completely screwing up EMA's response to the Station fire.

Posted by: Just Thinking at August 18, 2006 11:35 AM