September 1, 2006

Kerry King Keeps Naming Names

Carroll Andrew Morse

Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Kerry King is suing at least four state lawmakers for improperly imposing a “corrupton tax” on the state of Rhode Island. Mr. King wants the money paid back to the state treasury. Steve Peoples of the Projo has the story…

On the campaign trail, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Kernan "Kerry" King likes to talk about the "tax of corruption."

Now, he's asking a Superior Court judge to force more than a dozen state lawmakers -- including Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano and House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox -- to reimburse citizens for the "tax."

"The waste, influence peddling, self-interested deals and bribery that has infected the otherwise conscientious and honorable membership of the General Assembly robs the citizens of Rhode Island of their constitutional right to open and honest government and has created a de facto corruption tax for any individual or business wishing to reside or do business in Rhode Island," King writes in a lawsuit filed yesterday in Washington County Superior Court.

King is seeking unspecified damages (to be paid to the state's general treasury) for alleged misdeeds by a host of public officials. Aside from Montalbano and Fox, King names in his 24-page lawsuit Rep. Timothy A. Williamson, D-West Warwick, former state Sen. John Celona, and 10 elected officials he refers to only as "John and Jane Does."

Neither the Projo story nor Mr. King’s campaign website at this time has any detail on what the precise legal theory of the suit is.


My bad. I should have known to check the ubiquitous Jim Baron of the Pawtucket Times when searching for additional detail…

King and attorney Joseph Diagle of the firm Gelfuso and Lachut, said the suit is being brought under R.I. General Law 9-1-2, which states in part: "Whenever any person shall suffer any injury to his or her person, reputation or estate by the commission of any crime or offense, he or she may recover his or her damages for the injury in a civil action against the offender and it shall note be any defense to such action that no criminal complaint for the crime or offense has been made"…

The suit says that by receiving payments in excess of $86,000 for the West Warwick legal work that was not reported on financial disclosure statements until he was asked about it by reporters, [Senate President Joseph Montalbano] "has deprived the citizens of Rhode Island of his honest services." It asks the court to "declare that Montalbano's unreported receipt of over $86,000 from the town of West Warwick "constitutes a criminal act or offense," thereby making Montalbano liable for double damages….

Because [State Representative Timothy Williamson's] law firm, Inman Tourgee & Williamson, has taken more than $600,000 since 2002 for services as solicitor, and Williamson, who represents West Warwick and Coventry, is the lead sponsor of the casino amendment, the suit claims, he too has deprived Rhode Islanders of his honest services. It wants the court to say that Williamson's receipt of his share of the $606,256 paid by West Warwick constitutes a criminal act.

In his allegation against [State Representative Gordon Fox], King points to a $10,000 fine assessed against Fox by the RI Ethics Commission for his role in negotiating a state contract for GTECH while the law firm he was then associated with did legal work for the company. The complaint makes reference to the casino amendment, but does not specify how it relates to wrongdoing by Fox.

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I'm as big an anti-corruption guy as the next person. But even I'm starting to see Kerry King, with his anti-corrution lawsuits, as that crazy guy on the corner yelling about how the world will come to an end on next Friday.

Posted by: Greg at September 1, 2006 12:27 PM


Then what's with the multiple federal grand juries, and so many smiling defense attorneys around downtown Providence? And why would Charlie Fogarty choose to make anti-corruption, of all things, his main campaign theme, when it looks to many people like he's running against his own party?

Me thinks Mr. King is only taking a different approach to the problem.

Posted by: John at September 1, 2006 1:38 PM

Again, I'm not against the anti-corruption movement. I just think Kerry's actions are more of a stunt than a serious attack on corruption.

Posted by: Greg at September 1, 2006 1:41 PM

Strangely, I find myself agreeing again with Greg.

King decides to run for lt. gov., not because he wants be lt. gov., but because he'd like to succeed Carcieri.

He runs a terrible campaign thinking everyone is going to line up behind him and then Reggie C. jumps in at the last minute. Now he has to do something to come back against Reggie C. who had higher name ID and polled better than King before he even got into the race.

If King had worked hard, he never would have had to worry about a primary. Now he's the underdog and this seems more like a stunt.

Of course, I haven't seen much from Reggie C. yet either.

Posted by: Anthony at September 1, 2006 4:02 PM

So let me get this straight. In both of your minds, it is wrong for someone to take a stand against corruption, and test a new approach to attacking it, because it looks like a "political stunt." Do I understand you correctly?

If so, I completely disagree. Whether it is Charlie Fogarty or Kerry King, I think it is critically important that political leaders take a public stand against Rhode Island's culture of corruption. If taking these actions helps to mobilize the public to change the current situation (even if it taints the feds future jury pool), I say more power to them.

Posted by: John at September 1, 2006 5:39 PM

"this is beyond a stunt. if this was filed in federal court, king and his attorneys would be lucky if they weren't fined before they were tossed out on their butts."

-- the take of a lawyer friend of mine who is as anti-corruption as anyone out there, and a strong proponent of good government.

and to boot, we learned this week that king has given thousands of dollars to Democrats including state sen. Revens, chuck schumer, chris dodd, and john kerry.

whatever happened to king being "the jobs candidate"?

i couldn't agree more with greg and anthony

Posted by: johnb at September 1, 2006 6:44 PM

There's no hope for this state.

Posted by: John at September 1, 2006 9:21 PM

Sure it's a stunt. But it's a much needed stunt.

One of this state biggest problems is corruption, legal and extra-legal. Sorry, everyone, it has much more impact than emergency preparedness. This lawsuit, however badly written or politically driven, will remind the occasionally inattentive voters (i.e., no one who posts here) of the unacceptable state of politics and justice in this state. Frankly, I wish more candidates would pull "stunts" like this.

Posted by: SusanD at September 1, 2006 9:36 PM

what i want to know is when was it the lt. gov's job to pursue corruption and lawsuits against state legislators? not to defend the GA, but king isn't even a lawyer, so it's not like there's an ethical duty he needs to fullfill. not to mention king's "anticorruption" webpage has morphed after a whole 2 weeks into a "Do You Really Know Reggie" website with very little to do with corruption at all.

further, i have real problems with king's portrayal of centracchio as a "democratic supporter" and "ineffective bureaucrat"

to begin, a $50 contribution to charlie fogarty pales in comparrison with the thousands King has given to democrats across the country and to one of gov. carcieri's most outspoken critics

secondly, there is nothing bureaucratic about serving our country's military, mr. king. and unlike you, reggie centracchio has actually voted for Don Carcieri and served under orders from President Bush.

the sad thing here, is that i started off supporting kerry king. while i have always been skeptical of his promise to be the "jobs candidate" i thought him to be a decent guy. now it's clear through his dramatic shift in style and message that he is not someone i want to represent me as a republican.

with only marginal support, it is important the republicans put candidates up with only the highest caliber of integrity, substance, and ability. while mr. king may be able to represent rhode islanders as lt. gov, i do not think he possesses the honesty (as evidenced by his hypocracy in trying to paint centracchio as a "democratic supporter") or substance (his lawsuit and supposed anti-corruption site are both total political stunts without merit or depth)

while most people will be voting on primary day for laffey or chafee, i for one will be voting to see that reggie centracchio is the republican candidate for lt. governor

Posted by: johnb at September 2, 2006 12:15 AM

No, I think corruption needs to be addressed and I like the fact that King is raising the idea. I just question his motivations for doing so at this point. It's not like he decided to run for office intending to root out corruption. He's been very quiet until now and it comes across as opportunistic at this point.

I've made similar comments about Laffey's motivation to run for Senate. But even while I question Laffey's true motivation for running for Seante, am not even really sure what he would vote for if he ever did get elected, I can respect the work, effort and determination that he has put forth.

Don't get me wrong. It's King's right to run and I like what he is saying. But I still do question his motivation for running for the job. I also question whether the anti-corruption thing is just spin.

And unlike Laffey, even if King is as anti-corruption as his talk would lead you to believe, I question whether he would put in the effort to do anything about it or just do nothing and bide his time to run for governor after Carcieri.

Posted by: Anthony at September 2, 2006 3:35 PM

The problem with RI is voters like Greg & Co. You want an anti- corruption candidate but he has to be an anti-corruption candidate who doesnt look like he is trying to win an election? What is wrong with you people? There is right and there is wrong. Just because you dont like Kerry King you choose to support corruption. Are you waiting another four years for a candidate who files a law suit at a more opportune time for your liking....What a joke... Keep voting for Patrick Kennedy, keep voting for corrupt legislators, and keep hearing the laughs from just outside our state boarders from people who have lower taxes and better government. SMARTEN UP YOU IDIOTS!

Posted by: Robert at September 6, 2006 9:59 AM

a little bird has told me that mr. king might not have the most upstanding people advising him in his campaign.

now if you're a corrupt RI political lifer who would you want in office? a desperate ex-businessman looking for higher office, or a proven man of integrity and dedicated service to his country and state with no one to answer to?

me thinks mr. king has sold himself out just like so many other RI "reform" candidates

Posted by: tweety at September 6, 2006 11:27 AM