October 4, 2007

Senator Alves' Stout Denial

Monique Chartier

State Senator Stephen Alves has broken two days of silence to firmly deny charges that he blocked a tax incentive out of political revenge. Describing the allegations as "ridiculous and baseless", he called his main accuser, lobbyist Jeffrey Britt, a liar and affirmed that he had never been opposed in principle to the tax incentive for trucking company A. Duie Pyle:

“I never had an objection to Duie Pyle,” said Alves. “It was just never high on our priority list to spend $330,000 on it when we were cutting children off of RIte Care. It was a tough budget year. There were lots of winners and losers, lots of people who were disappointed.

In his appearance on Turn to 10, the Senator denied even soliciting the pension account in question from either the Town of Johnston or Mayor Polisena.

And WPRO's Dan Yorke interviewed him yesterday, though no calls were taken during that hour.

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I'm looking forward to hearing from the half-dozen witnesses to Alves admission to Britt in the pub.

Posted by: Greg at October 4, 2007 12:27 PM

Assume that Britt is telling the truth . . . what crime would the FBI be charging?

The theory seems to be that the Town is being punished after the fact for not having given the pension business to the Senator. Is that a crime?

Posted by: brassband at October 4, 2007 1:06 PM

Yeah, Brass. It's called 'Influence Peddling'. People have gone to jail for it. Duke Cunningham for example.

Posted by: Greg at October 4, 2007 2:18 PM

"I am not a crook!" - Richard Nixon circa 1973

"I hereby resign the office of President ..." - Richard Nixon, August 1974

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at October 4, 2007 2:50 PM

Cunningham admitted to accepting cars, cash, and jewelry from defense contractors in exchange for favors to the contractors. He was convicted of bribery, tax fraud, and conspiracy.

That's not what has been publicly alleged against Alves, at least not in the trucking company/tax break case.

I'm not defending Alves' ethics; my question is when a public official fails to advance legislation after the fact because he is "displeased" with the town's unwillingness to direct business to him, what federal crime is that?

Posted by: brassband at October 4, 2007 3:52 PM

One person disagrees with your analysis, Brassband: Senator Alves himself. Either he panicked and did not think it through as you did or he came to the same conclusion but decided that he didn't want the public to think there was yet another (alleged) item on him in the FBI's (hypothetical, alleged) hopper. In any case, he is denying any connection.

Posted by: Monique at October 4, 2007 8:32 PM

Well, it's interesting what position Alves takes now. But especially significant is what the FBI/US Atty think they can prove to a jury. If all that they can prove is that Alves "punished" Johnston for failing to give him their pension business -- absent some showing that he tied the two together when soliciting the pension business -- I don't think they've got a federal crime.

That might well explain, by the way, why someone inside the investigation is leaking to Stanton. By making their investigation public, it might be an effort to shake some info out of the trees that would give them the elements of a federal offense (something I think they might be missing, at this point).

Posted by: brassband at October 4, 2007 9:17 PM

This is only ONE segment of Dollar Bill involving Alves!

The FBI has also subpoenaed documents from West Warwick relative to his tenure there as Chair of the WW Pension Board as well as the Pension Board's Secretary.

File your own APRA request with the town to verify this...

Stanton notes in another story on 5 October that “Alves, who has refused calls from Governor Carcieri and others to step aside as Finance chairman, yesterday received the public support of Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano, himself a subject of the investigation for his title work with banks. “

Alves is going to clean up the Senate for the taxpayers of this State… How ironic!

Posted by: Aldo at October 5, 2007 12:57 AM

I think Brassband is on target. If all the FBI can prove is that Alves told someone about his decision to kill the tax-break after not getting the Johnston pension business, I don't think there's a crime there. In most legislative bribery cases, the crime is soliciting or accepting the bribe, not carrying out the act that was paid for.

However, the flip side of that principle is that if the Senator told someone something along the lines of "you know, you wouldn't want what happened to Johnston to happen to your community", that could, depending upon the context, be construed as a crime with regards to a future legislative action, even if it wasn't tied to a specific bill before the legislature.

In my experience observing politics, when politicians start making legalistic but politically unpopular arguments -- in Alves' case, saying I kill bills in secret meetings all the time, so what's the big deal -- instead of just saying "I didn't do it", it's generally a sign they're worried that investigators have more stuff they're preparing to bring out.

Posted by: Andrew at October 5, 2007 9:34 AM

Whether Alves' actions rise to the level of federal crime or not, the larger point is, we need to get the guy the hell out of our legislature. Unfortunately, only the citizens of his district can do that.

Posted by: rhody at October 5, 2007 11:05 AM

Isn't Britt one of those Carcieri insiders who took money from the State GOP for "consulting". Money that should have gone to candidates?

The guy's dripping with that Christian Winthrop sleezy ick. We all know Alves is crooked. Its the sneaky low-lives like Britt that make it so hard to change anything in this state.

Posted by: George at October 5, 2007 3:36 PM

The scum has begun the smear campaign, I see.

Posted by: Greg at October 5, 2007 3:48 PM

I don't know what the feds have, and frankly I'm sick of the tendency to want to use the U.S. Attorney to accomplish by prosecution what the Republican State Committee cannot accomplish at the ballot box.

Let's find someone to run against Alves, let's get that person the money and support that he or she needs to defeat him, and let's let the law enforcement side do what it does in its own time.

And let's do the same with other members of the Dem. leadership in both houses. Put them in contested races and they'd have much less of a tendency to engage in the kind of arrogant conduct for which Alves is well known (whether it's a crime or not).

Posted by: brassband at October 5, 2007 4:56 PM

Sorry, Brass. Gio is far too busy coming up with the next moronic way to get his name in the paper to waste his time building a party and raising any money. I've said it before, we went from a do-nothing head of the Republican Party to a do-nothing-smart leader.

Posted by: Greg at October 5, 2007 5:18 PM

Read this in detail...

Anyone see a pattern?

Sen. Alves no stranger to controversy

But the West Warwick Democrat points to his successes in the Senate as proof that he is serving the public's interest.

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, January 6, 2004
BY ZACHARY R. MIDER Journal Staff Writer

Sen. Stephen D. Alves, who seeks to become the next Senate majority leader, is a visible presence at groundbreakings, football games and senior brunches in his native West Warwick.
Less visible to the general public, he has, since 2001, been pursuing a defamation suit against two political opponents who criticized him through letters to the editors of local newspapers, and statements at public meetings.
A Superior Court judge threw out part of the suit in 2002, terming it "Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation" -- under state law, an illegal attempt to silence critics. The judge, Netti C. Vogel, ordered Alves to pay more than $17,000 in his opponents' legal fees. Alves has appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court. He has not yet paid anything.
The critics named in the suit, brothers Alan and William Palazzo, had questioned, among other things, Alves' role in pension deals with the Cities of Warwick and Pawtucket in 1991. (Alan Palazzo, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully against Alves for his Senate seat in 2000.)
In 1991, outgoing Warwick Mayor Francis X. Flaherty, now a state Supreme Court justice, approved the investment of $1.2 million in city pension money through Alves' firm. Alves had supported Flaherty's campaign. The city's investment adviser had warned against the move, and the matter later became an issue during Flaherty's unsuccessful bid for governor.
That same year, Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault invested $1 million of his city's pension funds through Alves' firm, over the objections of the city finance director. Alves had also supported Sarault's campaign.
Sarault later pleaded guilty to unrelated extortion charges and was sentenced to serve time in federal prison.
Alves has repeatedly denied benefiting from political favoritism in either of the pension deals. "It's all a lot of hogwash," he said again yesterday.
The Palazzos had also revived criticism leveled against Alves in 1999, after he had become a member of West Warwick's municipal pension board.
That year, a fellow pension board member accused Alves of trying to steer $10 million in business to Todd J. LaScola, with whom Alves occasionally golfed. (LaScola later pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of embezzling $6.4 million from clients.) Alves denies the accusation that he tried to steer the business to LaScola.
Alves' appeal of Judge Vogel's dismissal of part of his suit is expected to be heard by the state Supreme Court in March. Meanwhile, another part of the suit remains active in Superior Court.
That portion has been conditionally dismissed, however, after Alves failed to comply with a judge's order to provide documentation describing how he was damaged by the Palazzos' public statements.
The Palazzos are seeking to make the dismissal permanent. Lawyers involved with the case were at Kent County Superior Court yesterday morning for a hearing, which was rescheduled to Jan. 26.
Meanwhile, Alves continues to be a controversial figure in West Warwick.
Last week, the chairman of the Republican Town Committee issued a statement claiming that Alves pulled political strings to get a sister, Sharon A. Raiche, hired as a clerk in the Department of Labor and Training. She was hired in September 2002.
But Alves said yesterday that he had nothing to do with her hiring. "My sister can stand on her own two feet," he said.
Alves dismisses such controversies as fueled by "political rhetoric," and points to his successes in the Senate as proof that he is serving the public's interest. Just in the last session, he noted, he secured more state funds for the state's nursing homes and for an adult-immunization program.
And he helped West Warwick win a bigger-than-expected share of state school aid last year, he said. "That's what I was elected to do, to look out for the taxpayers of this town, and I have," he said. "The people of this town reelect me because I get the job done."

Online at: http://www.projo.com/news/content/projo_20040106_alves6.bff1e.html

Posted by: aldo at October 6, 2007 11:53 AM
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