October 20, 2010

A Swiss Cheese of Ethics

Justin Katz

Frankly, it's more than a little convenient that so much attention has recently fallen on various eyebrow-raising actions of Judge Frank Caprio, Sr., in his capacity as chairman of the Board of Governors for Higher Education just as his namesake son is running for the office of governor. Still, this is pretty egregious:

Last week, the [ethics] commission's former executive director, Sara M. Quinn, had filed a complaint with the board, asserting that in his role as chairman of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, the municipal court judge helped to arrange a $41,000 job for Donna Mesolella, wife of former Rep. Vincent Mesolella, just a month before the couple held a fundraiser at their Lincoln home. The event raised $30,000 for the campaign of his son, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank T. Caprio.

Caprio handed the former rep's wife's resume to an employee who answers to the commission for his job. Yet, the Ethics Commission's current executive director, Kent Willever, notes that Caprio Sr. did not stand to gain, financially, and was not related to the Moselellas, so no violation occurred.

In Rhode Island, we turn a blind eye to legislators who explicitly sell their votes and, now, to a corrupt system of insiders who cycle the state's offices and resources around to each other — as long as they're all one step removed from handing each other taxpayer cash.

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"legislators who explicitly sell their votes and, now, to a corrupt system of insiders who cycle the state's offices and resources around to each other — as long as they're all one step removed from handing each other taxpayer cash."

Certainly, this is an accurate statement as to how most political booty is distributed in this state.

In this particular case, however, it's not one step removed; it's a son. The judge appears to have given a job for which the beneficiary was the campaign of his son; 30,000 benefits, to be more precise.

All legal, of course, but that's the problem with most of the shenanigans in this state. Antithetical on every level to the good of the state but technically legal.

Posted by: Monique at October 20, 2010 8:25 AM

RI deserves the equally scummy Caprio and Chafee clans.
One will raise and "broaden" state taxes and the other will cut local aid (without a whit of mandate or municipal pension reform), forcing property taxes to rise towards New Jersey levels.
Heads they win, tails we lose.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at October 20, 2010 9:22 AM

Along the lines of the Ethics Commission, they did also say that charges brought by Gio Ciccione against Charlie Moreau for the cheap furnace by his boarding up man. Interesting that still our AG can't find anything the guy did wrong. Hopefully soon, the FBI will come out with their findings.

And along another tangent of party chairmen, interesting that PolitiFact gave Democratic Chairman Ed Pacheco a bit of a spanking for coming out with false statements against AG Candidate Chris Little. If that was Gio, the dems would be all up in arms, laughing at him and calling him inept. Pacheco? Delivered a candidate that many in his party are not happy with and gets caught in multiple mistruths about a current candidate. Tsk tsk.

Posted by: Patrick at October 20, 2010 9:27 AM

Wouldn't say Pacheco delivered Caprio - more like the Dem fat cats rolling him and showing the new kid who's still boss. And who could've foreseen Lynch quitting on his stool in the middle of the fight?

Posted by: hellas at October 20, 2010 11:22 AM

I'm beginning to think Robitaille can win this. But he's got to come out with some bold policy statements to make himself stand apart from the Chafee-Caprio fracas. He's got to engage them Laffey-style. Force them to answer for their records and speak to the issues and, in the process, make them sound stupid. It can be done. You just know that's what Laffey would be doing right now.

I'm also beginning to believe that the lesser of two evils, measuring Caprio to Chafee...Lord help us... is Chafee. Chafee is not bright, he's way far left, fiscally dangerous... but he is the less likely of the two willfully engage in fraud and corruption.

Come on Robitaille, get it going!

Posted by: George at October 20, 2010 12:42 PM

John Robit...who? I haven't seen too many commercials about him yet or why he's better than the others.

As for the people saying Caprio will do this, Chafee will do that, haven't we learned anything in the last 8+ years? Governors can't do anything the Assembly doesn't want them to do. The Assembly can do anything they want and the Gov really can't do anything about it. Last I checked, the Gov can't pass legislation all by himself, so Chafee really can't institute any tax increases or changes without the blessing of the Assembly. The Assembly controls the budget, so Caprio can send his cuts to them, but will that be any different from the cuts that Carcieri proposed and often had erased when Stevie Pasta-man got his mitts on it?

I'm just thinking that whoever does win this election will not have quite the ability to do anything they want, as some people fear. If they could, Carcieri would have been much more successful.

Posted by: Patrick at October 20, 2010 12:50 PM
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