May 25, 2007

Frank Caprio Versus Wal-Mart

Carroll Andrew Morse

A critical ethics issue? Or a ploy by a potential gubernatorial candidate seeking some publicity that will boost his credibility with progressive voters who identify Wal-Mart with all things evil? Make the call yourself based on this Associated Press report, via

Rhode Island's state treasurer has asked federal regulators to investigate whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc. violated securities laws by not disclosing that the son of the retailer's chief executive works for a company that does business with Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart said there is no requirement under the law for a disclosure and no conflict of interest. Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's vice president of corporate communications, said the question is a "nonissue".

In a letter made public Thursday, Rhode Island General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Wal-Mart. Rhode Island's state employee pension fund has substantial holdings in Wal-Mart shares through index funds that group large corporations, he said.

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Frank Caprio. Attention Whore. This issue stems solely from Frank being upset that nobody has stuck a microphone in his face and asked his opinion about anything recently.

Posted by: Greg at May 25, 2007 9:10 AM

So where does Caprio (who up to now seemed reasonably intelligent) propose to end his crusade? If a Walmart director's child works for the utility supplying gas to a Walmart store in South Dakota, should that be disclosed? If the Walmart CFO's daughter flies for Fedex, and Fedex ships overnight for Walmart, is that disclosable? If anything, wouldn't you at least need to have both parties in control positions where the transaction amounts are material for the disclosing party?

Of course, the more interesting question is why, if he is so concerned about undisclosed conflicts of interest, Caprio the Crusader didn't focus his ire a little closer to home. No lack of issues to be outraged over in RI, Frank. Let's start with CVS insurance commissions, or maybe how they've bought plastic bags in the past. Or maybe the relationships between different members of the General Assembly and various RI non-profits. Or what about the tax status of the Poverty Institute? Or maybe he could opine on the conflicts posed by full time union employees serving in the General Assembly. Like I said, no shortage of targets in RI. Guess Frank doesn't have the courage to look there. Nothing like showing the voters that you're really just another cowered Democratic pol, right Frank?

Posted by: john at May 25, 2007 9:40 AM

Relax. How progressive could a Democratic Friend of the Don possibly be?

Posted by: Rhody at May 25, 2007 10:51 AM

Cheap political stunt.

Wal-Mart is the favorite whipping boy of the unions and their Democrat butt-wipers.

Caprio is piling on because it's a no-risk brownie-point maker with with the aforementioned special interest groups.

As a previous poster noted, if he REALLY wanted to do something substantive about conflicts of interest, he's got a much more fertile and pressing field to till right here at home.

But what's the saying, you don't sh** in your own well. Particularly if you're a RI Democrat with aspirations for higher office.

Posted by: Tom W at May 25, 2007 2:33 PM

Walmart has done more for low income people (i.e. cheap stuff and jobs) than any "progressive" has ever done.

Posted by: John at May 25, 2007 3:57 PM

>>Walmart has done more for low income people (i.e. cheap stuff and jobs) than any "progressive" has ever done.

No, because to "progressives" "it's the thought that counts" - not action, much less result.

And if you ask any "progressive" their thoughts are both purer, more advanced and more compassionate than anyone else's.

Posted by: Tom W at May 25, 2007 5:58 PM

A transparent attempt to grab a headline by "gunning" for a safe target. Franki erroneously fancies himself an Elliot Spitzer. It took Walmart all of, what, two seconds to knock this down? Embarrassing.

It just struck me that three out of the four general officers comprise the putative 2010 Democrat gubernatorial primary (assuming the Sec State and AG cross the finish line with their respective, self-created albatrosses). Therefore, we cannot altogether blame the Treasurer for trying something ... anything to attract a bit of limelight.

Posted by: SusanD at May 25, 2007 9:11 PM

" ... why, if he is so concerned about undisclosed conflicts of interest, Caprio the Crusader didn't focus his ire a little closer to home ..."

Indeed, John, and I would add to your excellent list an item that actually pertains to his office - all of the little things that Steve Alves has done with various public monies that has drawn the keen interest of the FBI and regulatory agencies. Including the $100,000 that he and DaPonte received for no discernable reason from the pension fund of Local 99. (Those guys are always handing out money on a whim, just 'cause they like ya.)

Posted by: SusanD at May 25, 2007 9:22 PM

And Montalbano...where do we begin with that guy?

Posted by: Rhody at May 26, 2007 1:43 AM
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