March 8, 2013

Trust Chafee? You're Kidding, Right?

Patrick Laverty

My, how quickly Governor Chafee can change his opinion on things. First, on January 10th of this year, his office issued a press release that began:

Governor Lincoln D. Chafee Announces New Transparency and Accountability Initiative, Signs Supporting Executive Order

Providence, RI - In his continuing efforts to promote open and honest government in the State of Rhode Island, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced a new Transparency and Accountability Initiative. The goal of the Initiative is to provide the public with an increased level of information regarding the operation and management of government, as well as ensuring the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Beginning today, Rhode Islanders will have access to a number of documents that have already been uploaded to the Rhode Island state government Transparency Portal ( Over the next 18 months (on a rolling basis), the state will continue to add financial reports, audits, forms, and other financial information such as contracts, grants and quasi-public agency expenditures.

"The people of Rhode Island deserve more and better information about the operation and management of their government," said Governor Chafee.

However, today NBC 10's Bill Rappleye reported:
Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Friday, he's learned of waste and fraud in the state's Medicaid system, and that the fraud involves food stamps too.

Chafee told NBC 10 during a taping of "10 News Conference" that he does not intend to tell the public about what he's found and instead working on closing the gaps that allow cheating.

Does not intend to tell the public? Wait, what? Can I re-read that press release? Lemme see, "Chafee today announced a new Transparency and Accountability Initiative" and "to promote a more open and honest government." Really? He was just joking, right?

In the News Conference video, Rappleye even asks Chafee "What happened to transparency?" to which Chafee responds, "You're heckling me here." I'm not exactly sure how a media member asking the Governor to live up to his own promise, less than two months old, can be considered "heckling." Not once during the pointed questioning did Chafee ever say that the public will be allowed to see the contents of the report and Chafee also stated that he is not trying to avoid embarrassing anyone in his administration by releasing the report.

Can someone please explain again those green and blue campaign signs we saw two years ago? "Trust Chafee" Are you kidding me? First he signs his own decree for transparency and then about six weeks later he refuses to release a report detailing fraud and waste of taxpayer money? This is baffling, to put it nicely. November 2014 can't come soon enough for this Governor's seat.

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Champion transparency in speech and operate behind walls in action. Pat, Linc is just following the leader hoping it will pay off with a cushy job in D.C.

Posted by: jgardner at March 8, 2013 11:22 PM

Then Chafee is either afraid to tell us (why?) or doesn't think we have the need to know this information.

He works for us. He is our employee and accountable to us. He should understand that.

Posted by: helen at March 8, 2013 11:36 PM

He's afraid us rubes will begin to question the wisdom of planners planning a big, invasive government if we knew just how massive the problems are. I mean, what if Medicaid and food stamps produced a 38 Studios EVERY YEAR?

Posted by: Justin Katz at March 9, 2013 6:21 AM

Let the FOIA requests begin. Sure will be interesting. As this involves public dollars but not a personnel matter, what basis would there be to deny them?

Posted by: Monique at March 9, 2013 6:55 AM

The Rhode Island public just isn't as brilliant or as wise as their grand blue-blooded leader is, so if they saw how THEIR money was being wasted, they might be driven to rash action in a state of irrational furor. He will serve as the progressive "Giver," shielding taxpayers from the information and emotions he knows they cannot handle so they can continue living their simple lives of trust and obedience.

Posted by: Dan at March 9, 2013 7:57 AM

I have a sign in my garage if anyone wants one for posterity - you are not your father, sir....dupe me once, dupe me twice, again and again and again?

Posted by: Nancy at March 9, 2013 5:24 PM

Further research indicated the fine print said "Trust (child) Chafee".

The boor in chief is acting predictably...what IS the surprise here? Much like Hussein the tin horn dictator he is making it up as he goes. Never worked for a living...vampiring off mama govt. and letting the masses eat crumbs. Elitist rule on display. Maybe Missing Linc should lower the state flag to honor Komrad Chavez.

Posted by: ANTHONY at March 9, 2013 5:56 PM

Chafee may be worried about his re-election chances if the report is made public. Ken Block who discovered the problems is prohibited by the contract from revealing what he discovered. This would be a good opportunity for some reporter or open government activist organization to use RI new Freedom of Information Act Laws just enacted by the General Assembly. Time to hold Chafee's feet to the fire.

Posted by: Mark at March 10, 2013 12:25 AM

From the report:

"...a report which was compiled for free by former candidate for governor, Ken Block.

Block said he's prohibited under his contract from revealing what he found."

So, he's working free but signed a contract anyway?? What kind of double talk is this?!?

I want to know what he found. I DO NOT trust Chafee to do the right thing. I have a right to know what Block found was happening with MY MONEY!!!

Posted by: RITaxpayer at March 10, 2013 11:05 AM

You'll never see it-unless it's leaked.
Complete silence from the Midget Moderate too.
Don't forget that.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at March 10, 2013 12:36 PM

Tommy, you understand that Ken is under an NDA, right? Or are you saying he should simply violate that?

Posted by: Patrick at March 10, 2013 1:58 PM

I am curious why a NDA is needed for such a study...this is a program that is funded by us, the taxpayers, no? Unless everyone knew there were issues and our politicians were protecting themselves from the start? Troubling at best.

Posted by: Mike at March 10, 2013 4:23 PM

"I am curious why a NDA is needed for such a study...this is a program that is funded by us, the taxpayers, no? Unless everyone knew there were issues and our politicians were protecting themselves from the start? Troubling at best."

Of course there has to be an NDA. There is no way Chafee allows Ken Block to upstage him on this issue. Chafee is kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. He never wanted Block's help but bowed to pressure. Now he wants to reap the accolades for bringing Block in but doesn't want anyone to know how bad it is. If he didn't have the NDA, that cat would already be out of the bag.

Posted by: Max D at March 10, 2013 5:25 PM

A huge amount of the data that we had access to is confidential. No one in this industry works without NDAs firmly in place, as well as tight protections of customer data.

I cannot speak to anyone's position on this issue but my corporate one - and the contract that permitted this work to happen at all. Any releasing of specific findings can only come from the administration.

There are some valid reasons why the release of info needs to be done in a carefully controlled way - especially if law enforcement is involved.

Posted by: Ken Block at March 10, 2013 7:28 PM

So Ken, is law enforcement involved?

As far as I'm concerned, MY MONEY is being used fraudulently, according to the report you filed. I think I should have the right to know who and how it was used.

Posted by: RITaxpayer at March 11, 2013 10:33 AM

RITaxpayer, you're exactly right, you do have the right to know. That's why NBC10 and others are filing FOIA for the info. Either it'll be handed over or a judge will force them to.

I'd say that this interview wasn't Chafee's finest moment, but then again, I can't think of a good one.

Posted by: Patrick at March 11, 2013 11:10 AM

There are some valid reasons why the release of info needs to be done in a carefully controlled way - especially if law enforcement is involved.
Posted by Ken Block at March 10, 2013 7:28 PM

To misquote an old pop song:
"That's What Leaks Are For"

Posted by: Tommy Cranton at March 11, 2013 2:17 PM

Mad King Aerys needs to be protected from himself. Perhaps one of his "hands" can convince him to do his job, or do it for him, by releasing the report on how the taxpayer's money is being abused.

Posted by: Dan at March 11, 2013 3:04 PM

It's my understanding that the method used to create this report is broad and relies on statistics. What it's probably finding are clusters of patients and doctors who are somehow much more likely to end up on 'disability', or medical procedures that were billed in ways that indicate fraudulent activity.

If that's the case, then it's probably best to keep the actual report under-wraps for now and let the powers-that-be investigate what they can. Making the report public too soon might let the Bad Guys get away.

Posted by: mangeek at March 11, 2013 4:50 PM

On top of that... In a case like this, you want to change procedures internally at the state level to -identify- this stuff before it goes through. If you 'bust' all the perps now, you never get to fix the underlying problem of 'why doesn't the state catch this stuff as it happens?'.

Posted by: mangeek at March 11, 2013 4:53 PM

Mangeek, I get the concept of protecting an investigation and not letting criminals get away because they know they're guilty and the media tells them they're being investigated. But how about simply telling us a number. How much fraud is there? $10? $1,000? $10,000,000? Or as Justin suggested, the equivalent of a 38 Studios every year? Can we at least have that much with a deadline on when all the details will be released? At a minimum?

Posted by: Patrick at March 11, 2013 5:06 PM

Even giving a number can be hairy...

Say you have a 'cluster' of patients that seem to get on disability with a certain doctor. You need to dig deep to find out if there's fraud happening or if it's just a doctor with a reputation for treating certain disabling illnesses.

Posted by: mangeek at March 12, 2013 8:41 AM
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