December 6, 2009

Frank Caprio: Making Up Stories About a Friend to Win a Primary

Monique Chartier

... the friend being Don Carcieri.

In fact, the friendship between the Governor and the General Treasurer was the impetus for one of the rare instances in which the Governor deliberately opened himself up to criticism from his own party: it was an open secret that during the last election, Governor Carcieri favored Frank Caprio for General Treasurer over the Republican candidate. Those of us determined (or compelled) to find a silver lining recognized this as a manifestation, albeit momentarily irksome, of the Governor's pronounced loyalty streak.

Against this backdrop do we read, courtesy the ProJo's Ed Fitzpatrick, about one particular facet of Frank Caprio's efforts to pump up his left-wing bona fides for the upcoming Democrat gubernatorial primary.

Caprio (an in-house lawyer at Cookson America when GOP Governor Carcieri ran the conglomerate in the 1990s) said, “We have an administration up at the State House that locks himself in the office, thinks they know it all, doesn’t listen to much. So, let’s change that.”

Jerzyk asked if he was talking about Carcieri. “Correct,” Caprio said.

Possibly Mr. Caprio was unaware that a member of the press was nearby at that moment with notebook open and ears flapping (which is to say, diligently doing his job). On the other hand, that explanation would only make the incident worse. ("I only say bad things about my friends behind their backs.")

Personal disloyalty aside for a moment, the real killer is that the statement is simply not true! Far from locking himself in an office, Governor Carcieri has reached out so much during his tenure that it has earned him a good deal of criticism from those who, out of understandable frustration with the decades of putrid government that has emanated from one party, would prefer that the Executive Branch adopt a more confrontational style in tackling the state's problems and those who are attempting to perpetuate them.

What the Governor did do, in the course of not locking himself in an office, is work very hard - in some cases, with marked success - to fix some of the state's worst problems by creating a better business climate to engender jobs and grow the tax base; getting government spending under control; reining in generous social programs; addressing out of control public pension benefits that decades of unscrupulous politicians so glibly promised but did not see fit to fund.

What he did not do is back away from these goals despite protracted vilification from certain quarters. Hopefully, this is not what the General Treasurer was referencing with the phrase "not listening too much"; in point of fact, many would characterize this as standing on principle.

In light of the above remark, principle is a commodity that the General Treasurer appears at the moment to be somewhat lacking - the principle of loyalty, the principle of truth. The primary has presumably placed the General Treasurer under some political stress. Has this inadvertently revealed an aspect of his character? As Governor, would he abandon principle when experiencing other kinds of stress?

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So funny and quite revealing how it's been Frank Caprio locking himself in his office and hiding under his desk in recent days simply because Dan Yorke wants him to express these same remarks over statewide radio. Perhaps a new commercial is on its' way to explain it all? lol
Of all the declared candidates running for Gov Frank Caprio is the most plastic and packaged of them all. I've never found Caprio to be real or genuine. There is just something about the guy and his personality that projects an odd distance or detachment. Might be why his consultants have told him to spend 100K per month on commercials from now to the election.
Don Carcieri is the most "public" pol I've ever seen. Any citizen in this state has had the ability to meet with him personally in his office or has had the opportunity to call him up on the radio on a monthly basis since he took office. He also travels from Woonsocket to Westerly and meets with all kinds of audiences at all kinds of forums and none of that access has ever changed in the 7 years he's been Governor. Same has been true for the pols in the Gen Ass. They have broad access to this Gov over legislative matters.
That quote was Caprio groveing to the loony lib frufru crowd. They're irrelevant in general election but Caprio may need their help in the Demmie primary. But as Monique so accurately pointed out, Caprio's groveling has revealed his true character as has his avoidance of Dan Yorke. Frank Caprio is just another garden variety pol. Sad!!

Posted by: Tim at December 6, 2009 8:37 AM

"Don Carcieri is the most "public" pol I've ever seen."

Thank you for confirming, Tim. After seeing the General Treasurer's remark, I was concerned I had missed something or mis-remembered.

Posted by: Monique at December 6, 2009 9:44 AM

Monique, it was such a stupid and inaccurate remark by Caprio. He may score some points with the loony frufru's but if Caprio or anyone else thinks the public at large is going to buy into a "vote for me I'm not Carcieri" mantra they're sadly mistaken. Don Carcieri has been a good Governor during some really tough times and I believe history will look favorably on him. He's held the fort and done so with very little help from anyone. He's also been saddled with one of the most ineffectual and disengaged House Speakers this state has ever seen. The next Governor will be blessed from the start by not having the anvil that is Bill Murphy weighing down their governorship.

Posted by: Tim at December 6, 2009 10:39 AM

"Of all the declared candidates running for Gov Frank Caprio is the most plastic and packaged of them all."


Posted by: Dan at December 6, 2009 11:01 AM

Dan, off topic: as you were kind enough to supply that link of Patrick Lynch discussing the Second Amendment on Youtube, just wanted to let you know that the quality of the audio was poor, preventing transcription.

Now that you've brought it up, though, it's coming back to me that he has not had a strong pro-Second Amendment stance, either in rhetoric or in practice. I came across a link that talked about his curbing carry permits for hand guns ...?

Also - and maybe this is the same thing - Arlene Violet pointed out early in his tenure that he had opted to put/keep the process of applying for a gun permit in the AG's office; i.e., under his control, as opposed to with the police chief of each city and town. The latter - so goes the theory - would be in a better position to evaluate the fitness of the applicant while the former can just say no.

The NRA does not appear to rate Attorneys General. I wonder if anyone has compiled any kind of info as to how many gun permits the Attorney General has denied (or simply not issued) and the validity of the reasons for not issuing.

Posted by: Monique at December 6, 2009 2:11 PM

OT: It's true, Lynch is no friend of the 2nd Amendment, at least not when it isn't politically convenient to be.

Could be worse though. We could be living under the gun-grabbing Nassau County DA. An excerpt from the new attorney job application form from her office:

"I understand that assistant district attorneys are not permitted to apply for a handgun permit nor own or possess a handgun while employed by the Nassau County District Attorney. Any exception to this policy must be in writing and approved by the District Attorney."

Like hell I was signing that, my half completed application went right in the trash. What an outrageous disrespect she shows for her constituents' individual liberties. By this time next year, after the 2nd Amendment is incorporated, such a requirement will certainly be unconstitutional.

A good lesson as to what happens when we do not keep our elected officials in check!

Posted by: Dan at December 6, 2009 3:18 PM

Jeepers. Gun ownership must be approved by Big Sister ...

Posted by: Monique at December 6, 2009 5:11 PM

Monique -

I would like to add one more ingredient to your political soup.

Don Carcieri's job approval rating has dropped each year for the last three years since he was re-elected.

The most recent poll has his net job DISapproval at 59%.


Why WOULDN'T a smart candidate for Governor run against an unpopular incumbent?


Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at December 7, 2009 8:39 AM

Two glitches with your theory, Matt.

1.) It's fine for one politician, for whatever reason, to distance himself from another. The problem in this case is that Mr. Caprio lied in his attempt to distance himself from the Governor.

2.) He threw a friend/ally under the bus. Shouldn't that be of concern to his current friends and allies, not to mention the voters of Rhode Island?

Posted by: Monique at December 7, 2009 11:10 AM

Matt-Caprio was obviously playing to the crowd at hand.Drinking Liberally is generally representative of the left leaning(progressive)wing of the Democrats.
He might be singing a different tune in front of a group of more conservative Democrats,like Palumbo,Carnevale,Ruggiero,Brien,Cote,and Raptakis for instance.
Let's face it-the only people to the left of you guys in the state are the IWW and the ISO.And who takes them seriously?

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 9, 2009 6:39 AM

A - Just because one thinks another locks himself in his office does not imply that the first person is saying the second does not work hard. Seems like one lead to the other without connection. That's how rumors start. Tsk, tsk.

B - I have friends that I have had disagreements with and about some pretty big issues. I do not see Carcieri contesting the comment. Then again, I, like you, do not know every detail about the relationship these two gentlemen have. Perhaps that comment, if authentic, may have been made after the two gentlemen went to lunch together and Gov. Carcieri may have snaked the last chicken wing; I know I have spoken worse about a friend or two for less. Just yesterday I told a good friend with whom I was working on a project that things would go a lot faster if he would get his "big, fat ego out of the way". This evening, we finished the project...consequently, his ego was still there...we just would have finished this morning, but this evening was good enough and I am meeting him for dinner in 20 minutes. I'm not going to order wings.

C - Mr. Caprio is very soft-spoken...always has been. Apparently, some people have a problem with the way some people talk. Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich talk too loud. Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelosi talk too much. Barrack Obama talks too often. Frank Caprio talks too soft. Get to know him; he's a great guy...and well-principled.

Would you be happy if you found out that they were actually facebook friends? That would be something, eh?

Posted by: Paul at December 11, 2009 7:34 PM