— RI Attorney General '06 —

October 31, 2006

The Lynch/Darigan Inconsistency Continues

Carroll Andrew Morse

In today's edition, the Projo runs its dueling articles on Patrick Lynch and Bill Harsch, this year's candidates for Rhode Island Attorney General. Though other issues are discussed, each aricle devotes an ample amount of space to the Station fire and the Derderian trial.

On its face, Attorney General Lynch's description of the events leading to guilty pleas by the Derderains continues to be different from the version given by Judge Francis Darigan in his final sentencing statement. Here is Attorney General Lynch's description, current as of today, of how the final deal came about...

Lynch said that about 95 percent of the time, defense lawyers and prosecutors discuss and agree on terms and turn to a judge to approve the deal. But when that doesn't work out, there are other options. He said in some cases when the prosecution and defense can't agree, the judge can tell the defendant, if you plea to every count, I'll give you the following and the state can enter their objection. He said, That's what happened here.
Judge Darigan described a different process in his sentencing statement, which is as about an official a version as is possible...
This Court was well aware that all parties desired to conclude these cases without a trial. As the structure of theses (sic) cases and the issues for the trial became clearer and more crystallized, the Court began to share this opinion.

As the date for the trial approached, the Defendants clearly indicated to the Court and the Attorney General's Office that they wished to change their pleas.

It was at this time that the parties asked the Court if it would accept a change in the pleas and impose sentences to which the State, if it wished, could object.

What exactly did the "parties" -- which in legal terms usually refers to both sides prosecution and defense -- ask the court for, if it wasn't part of the AG's office agreeing to deal? (Also, it is interesting to note that both Judge Darigan and AG Lynch make a point to emphasize that the state reserved a right to object to the final outcome).

I can come up with three ways to reconcile the disparate versions...

  1. When Judge Darigan talks about the "parties" asking for the Court to accept a change in pleas, he is referring to some technical legal procedure that is different from what the plain English might indicate. (But then what was the state formally asking for?)
  2. Judge Darigan was horribly imprecise with his description of events, e.g. he said "parties" when he really meant "Defendants". (But then why tell us that the state reserved its right to object in the same sentence?)
  3. Patrick Lynch is telling a different version of events from what Judge Darigan experienced.

October 25, 2006

Bill Harsch on What Can Be Done About the Station Fire, From This Point Onward

Carroll Andrew Morse

Bill Harsch, Republican candidate for Attorney General, has sent out a letter detailing actions he would take if elected with regards to The Station fire...

  • A complete review of the original state criminal case as well as the indictment and prosecution of all parties including town officials responsible for the events of February 20 , 2003;
  • The initiation of criminal prosecutions in conjunction with the US Attorney targeting those parties responsible for the violation of the guaranteed civil rights of the Station Fire victims [including the right to equitable enforcement of all public safety laws];
  • A reform of a broken plea bargain system which now favors who a perpetrator of crime knows rather than being based on what he or she has done wrong.
In his letter, Mr. Harsch tackles the question of "politicizing the death of the Station Fire victims" head-on...
In writing this letter I will surely be accused of politicizing the death of the Station Fire victims. To the extent that my voicing of what the law demands of the Attorney General's office will draw fire from those believing that the Station Fire prosecution is a closed subject, I will gladly take such risk knowing that your Attorney General must demonstrate leadership and competency in the quest to provide justice and protection for all Rhode Island citizens.

I am tired of being a victim of the continued incompetency and mismanagement of the Attorney General's Office - to the extent I know that most Rhode Islanders feel as I do - I believe the time for change is now.

October 19, 2006

The Harsch Anti-Corruption Plan

Carroll Andrew Morse

Republican candidate for Attorney General William Harsch has released his four-point plan for attacking public corruption if elected Attorney General...

  • The formation of a Public Corruption Unit within the Attorney General's Office.
  • Stiffer penalties for public officials convicted in corruption cases.
  • Creation of a Joint Commission on Election Fraud with the Secretary of State's Office.
  • The implementation of an anonymous Public Corruption Tip Line.
This is the third set of specific policy proposals that Mr. Harsch has released as part of his campaign.

Continue reading "The Harsch Anti-Corruption Plan"

Harsch to Board of Elections: Lynch's Campaign Finance Reports are Incomplete

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Edward Fitzpatrick in the Projo, Attorney General Candidate Bill Harsch has complained to the state Board of Elections about incomplete campaign finance reports filed by current Attorney General Patrick Lynch...

J. William W. Harsch, the Republican candidate for attorney general, yesterday sent a complaint to the state Board of Elections, accusing Democratic Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch of failing to fully report employment and/or address information for about 43 percent of those who have contributed to his campaign since 2003....

Harsch cited a state law requiring that campaign-finance reports contain the name, address and place of employment of each person or source that contributes more than $100. Harsch's campaign coordinator, Tom Shevlin, said Lynch's campaign omitted employer and/or address information for 922 contributions dating to January 2003.

The Projo provides some examples of donors who provided incomplete information...
  • Charles A. Blixt, who donated $250 to Lynch in December 2005, as general counsel/executive vice president of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.
  • J. Russell Jackson, who donated $1,000 in December 2005, as a lawyer who has represented Anheuser Busch as a partner in the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom law firm.
  • Peter H. Cressy, who donated $250 in December 2005, as president and CEO of The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, an industry advocacy group.
  • Brennan Dawson, who donated $250 in December 2005, as senior vice president of The Tobacco Institute, which represents major cigarette manufacturers in the United States.
Attorney General Lynch disputes that he has failed to comply with campaign finance laws...
Lynch said it's "humbling" that thousands of people have donated to his campaign since 2003. "We've recorded every contribution that we've received and comply with every applicable campaign-finance law," he said. "My opponent's latest attack is just a desperate attempt to bring life to his stagnant campaign in the last 21 days."
But Rhode Island law is pretty direct on this matter. The relevant section is section 17-25-7(a)...
17-25-7 Contents of reports to be filed by treasurers of candidates and committees. -- (a) Each campaign treasurer of a candidate, each state and municipal committee of a political party, and each political action committee shall keep accurate records and make a full report, upon a form prescribed by the board of elections, of all contributions received by it in excess of a total of one hundred dollars ($100) from any one source within a calendar year, in furtherance of the nomination, election, or defeat of any candidate or the approval or rejection of any question submitted to the voters during the period from the date of the last report, or in the case of the initial report, beginning on the date of the appointment of the campaign treasurer for state and municipal committees and political action committees and on the date a person becomes a "candidate", as defined in Sec. 17-25-3(2) for individual candidates. The report shall contain the name and address and place of employment of each person or source from whom the contributions in excess of one hundred dollars ($100) were received, and the amount contributed by each person or source. The report shall be filed with the board of elections on the dates designated in Sec. 17-25-11. The campaign treasurer of the candidate, or committee reporting, shall certify to the correctness of each report.
We can argue about whether these laws are good things or not, but it seems silly for an Attorney General to be arguing that he is complying with the law when he clearly isn't.

And isn't the office of Attorney General an office that should be filled by someone who pays attention to the details?

October 16, 2006

Harsch and Lynch Agree on Three Debates

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Edward Fitzpatrick in today's Projo, Attorney General Candidates Patrick Lynch and Bill Harsch have agreed upon a schedule of three debates...

  • Friday, October 20, WPRO-AM (The Dan Yorke Show)
  • Sunday, October 22, WPRI-TV (CBS 12)
  • Sunday, November 5, WJAR-TV (NBC 10)

October 9, 2006

Patrick Ducks Debates…

Carroll Andrew Morse

…you pick the last name.

Edward Fitzpatrick of the Projo reports on Attorney General Patrick Lynch’s last minute bail-out from a debate with challenger Bill Harsch scheduled for WLNE-TV (ABC 6)…

[Bill Harsch] last week accused Lynch of backing out of what would have been their first on-air debate — on a Channel 6 (WLNE) news program, ABC6 on the Record, hosted by Jim Hummel. The program was taped Thursday, with only Harsch present, and was set to air Sunday morning, Harsch campaign coordinator Tom Shevlin said…

Lynch’s campaign manager, Andrea Iannazzi, responded by saying, “Attorney General Lynch will absolutely be debating his opponent. We are not dodging anything.”

She said Lynch has received more requests than he can accommodate, but his campaign will review those requests and schedule debates soon.

Iannazzi said Lynch did not back out of the Channel 6 appearance. “Unfortunately, the attorney general had a prior commitment,” she said, adding that Lynch attended a ceremony paying tribute to police officers killed in the line of duty.

Shevlin said Lynch was offered the option of taping the program Thursday or Friday.

Given what the public saw in the Attorney General’s handling of the Derderian trial, maybe the Lynch campaign is telling the truth when they say “we’re not dodging debates; we’re just too disorganized to prepare for one!”

Meanwhile, Patrick Kennedy has still agreed to only a single PBS debate, and not responded to challenger Jon Scott’s suggestion that Congressman Kennedy’s traditional public-access cable debates be moved to a more high-profile venue. Congressman Kennedy (quite rationally) is employing a “the less people see of me, the more likely I am to win” strategy.

Ducking debates, however, leaves the Congressman free from having to explain how he and his party’s plan to raise taxes and spending as soon as they get into office. This is from John E. Mulligan in today’s Projo

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy would expect some share in the power to set legislative priorities in the next Congress, pushing his signature health-care issues onto the House ``to do'' list.

Democrats collectively would launch investigations into the war in Iraq, stifle the Republican campaign for tax cuts, and press for freer spending on an array of domestic programs.

Note 1: Since much of the near-term fiscal is debate about renewing temporary tax cuts enacted over the past five years, support for “stifling the Republican campaign for tax cuts” is support for tax-increases.

Note 2: If you don’t like the description of the Democratic agenda as campaign for “freer spending”, send your complaints to Mr. Mulligan, not me. And if Congressman Kennedy is not a supporter of freer spending, the best way for him to clarify that position is to make some unscripted appearances, i.e. debates, where he can explain his position on fiscal issues. (Of course, since the Congressman voted against earmark transparency and is a close ally of the Virginia Congressman who stated that he wants to earmark the sh** out of appropriations bills, it is possible that Congressman Kennedy would prefer not to face any unscripted scrutiny on the subject of free spending).

September 19, 2006

What the Heck...Even More Poll Numbers!

Marc Comtois

(Heads Up--or Nota Bene for the cultured sort--Andrew and I were obviously working the same story and posted them within 1 minute of each other. This proves we Anchor Rising Contributors don't collude!!!! I kept my post up because of the wonderfully witty and pithy observations....but I did truncate most of it to the "extended" section.)

As noted in the comments to my earlier "poll post" {and Andrew's new post--MAC} a new Brown poll (Darrell West) is out, with some encouraging numbers for both Governor Carcieri and Senator Chafee.

Continue reading "What the Heck...Even More Poll Numbers!"

September 6, 2006

Bill Harsch Petitions for Sex Offender Notification Reform

Carroll Andrew Morse

Bill Harsch, Republican candidate Attorney General, has created an online petition asking that Rhode Island’s sex-offender registration laws be strengthened. The petition reads…

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

I am writing to urge you to strengthen Rhode Island's Attorney General Community Notification Guidelines.

In a state forty miles by thirty, Rhode Islanders need to be aware of threats in their immediate neighborhoods, as well as from Woonsocket to Westerly.

As the law currently stands, a Level III sex offender can reside across the street from an elementary school, playground, or childcare center, and parents would only be notified of an approximate address. As a parent and concerned citizen, I am deeply troubled by this inexplicable loophole, and I support this petition in order to bring pressure upon policy-makers to fix it.

I urge you to reconsider your opposition to protecting Rhode Island's families and support Bill Harsch's plan for strengthening Rhode Island's Sex Offender Community Notification Guidelines.

Mr. Harsch signed the petition with this statement…
I support this petition because we need to hold our elected officials accountable for the safety of Rhode Island families. I support this petition because Rhode Island is one of four states that do not list exact addresses of known sex offenders. I support this petition because it is time that we fix the loopholes in our laws that sacrifice the protection of Rhode Island families for the protection of convicted sex offenders. Mostly, I support this petition as a father and husband who believes Rhode Island deserves better.
Further details on the changes that Mr. Harsch believes to be necessary are available at his campaign website.

August 22, 2006

Ethics Commission: No Problem if the Attorney General Takes Campaign Contributions from Lawyers He is Negotiating With

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to the Projo’s 7-to-7 blog, the state ethics commission has decided not to investigate the complaint against Attorney General Patrick Lynch filed by William Harsch regarding AG Lynch’s acceptance of campaign contributions from a lawyer representing DuPont around the same time that the lawyer was negotiating DuPont’s release from the state’s lead paint lawsuit.

Mike Stanton had a comprehensive history of the DuPont deal in Sunday’s Projo. Stanton’s reporting again raises the question of what exactly DuPont chief litigation counsel Thomas Sager was trying to get across in his letter-to-the-editor in Friday’s Projo. According to Mr. Sager, DuPont was released from the suit “on the basis of the facts produced in discovery”. However, Stanton’s article tells a very different story…

One of the people [Attorney General Patrick Lynch] heard from was Bernard Nash, a Washington lawyer who has cultivated relationships with attorneys general around the country.

As the head of the State Government and Litigation practice at Dickstein Shapiro, Nash is skilled in finding "creative non-litigation solutions" for corporate clients facing scrutiny from the nation's attorneys general, according to his law firm's Web site. Dickstein Shapiro's lawyers boast "remarkable success" in helping corporate clients "avoid or minimize the impact of investigations and litigation."

Lynch testified in January that he may have first met Nash at a Florida conference of newly elected attorneys general, followed by phone conversations early in 2003.

At first, Lynch said in his deposition, "there was nothing substantive, but more of an introduction . . . and obviously, you know, do I have any inclination or desire to sit down and talk about, you know, any understandings that could be reached, short of having to go back to a second trial."

Nash's pitch on behalf of DuPont, recalled Lynch, was, "We're not as bad as the other guys."

Later in 2003, Lynch asked his chief of staff, Leonard L. Lopes, to serve as a witness to the DuPont negotiations. On Nov. 15, Nash called Lopes.

According to Lopes, Nash asked, "What is it going to take to get out of this?"

A second detail that doesn’t square with Mr. Sager’s claim that DuPont was released on the basis of merit is Attorney General Lynch's claim that the other defendants in the suit could have made a similar deal...
The biggest break occurred in June 2005, when DuPont agreed to donate $12.5 million to several nonprofit organizations; in exchange, Mr. Lynch dropped the company from the lawsuit.

Mr. Lynch said the other paint companies could have reached a similar conclusion, an assertion disputed by Philip H. Curtis, a partner at Arnold & Porter representing Atlantic Richfield.

If both AG Lynch and Mr. Sager have provided accurate information, then all of the lead-paint defendants should have been dropped from the case on the basis of the facts (thus ending the suit) meaning that one or both of the lawyers has not been accurate. The ramifications of this discrepancy are unclear at the moment.

August 18, 2006

DuPont Explains Its Side, Sort Of

Carroll Andrew Morse

I know there's no way to explain anything comprehensively in the "letter to the editor" format. Still, Thomas Sager's letter in today's Projo concerning the questionable charitable contributions made by DuPont as part of the Rhode Island lead paint case leaves a significant gap in the story.

Mr. Sager, the chief litigation counsel for DuPont, begins by saying that DuPont's dismissal from the lead-paint suit was on the basis of merit...

DuPont was dismissed with prejudice, on the basis of the facts produced in discovery. The dismissal was not pursuant to a settlement. There was no settlement agreement between Attorney General Lynch and DuPont, and DuPont paid no money to either the state or the attorney general's outside contingency-fee lawyers.
He then goes on to discuss DuPont's charitable contributions...
DuPont agreed to make contributions to three charities: the Children's Health Forum, Brown University Medical Center, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston. We will honor each of these commitments. Suggestions to the contrary are just wrong.
Here's the missing step: DuPont doesn't need the Rhode Island Attorney General's permission to make charitable contributions; they are free to give their available money to charities whenever they so choose. So, if there is no connection between DuPont's dismissal from the lead paint suit and the charitable contributions the corporation made, as Mr. Sager implies, then how did the Office of the Rhode Island Attorney General become entangled in DuPont's charitable giving in the first place?

August 17, 2006

The Wall Street Journal Editoral Board and Arlene Violet on AG Lynch & Dupont

Carroll Andrew Morse

The continuing controversy surrounding the details of Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch’s understanding that allowed DuPont to be dropped from the state’s lead paint case was the subject of yesterday’s lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s the opening graf and an outline of what follows…

When a state sues an industry – think tobacco – any settlement money typically goes directly to that state. But when Rhode Island dropped the DuPont Corporation from a lead paint lawsuit last year, after the defendant agreed to donate $12 million to charity, most of the money ended up at organizations based in Washington D.C. and Boston. Which is why Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch has some explaining to do….

Most of the money -- $9 million – is going to the Children’s Health Forum, a Washington D.C. nonprofit that has agreed to dole it out to groups back in Rhode Island for lead paint clean-up.

Why not cut out this middleman? Well, perhaps because the Children’s Health Fund was incorporated as a lobbying group three years ago and received nearly all of its seed money from Dupont....

Some $2.5. million is going to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, another curious choice because that Massachusetts medical center has no lead-poisoning prevention program to speak of...Mr. Lynch agreed to allow money from DuPont that would otherwise go to lead-paint cleanup in Rhode Island to be used instead by a private law firm to fulfill its pledge to an out-of-state institution....

Later this month, the Rhode Island Ethics commission will hold a hearing whether to launch a full investigation into the deal, and a thorough vetting of Mr. Lynch’s motives seems appropriate....

Also behind a subscription wall is former Attorney General Arlene Violet’s Cumberland Valley Breeze column where she explains how the problems with where the DuPont money has gone directly relate to the way in which the current Attorney General has been conducting his duties...
Dupont has forever been discharged as a defendant in a multi-billion dollar lead paint liability trial for nothing but a verbal agreement to spend $12.5 million. As Bill Harsch, whom I support for the office, pointed out, folks cannot buy a piece of furniture on time without signing a legal document outlining the terms of performance. Yet Dupont, in effect, is only bound to perform by a gentleman's agreement with Lynch, who might not be in office after this election....

In a deposition, the Attorney General noted that he thought the money might discharge Motley Rice's obligation and he vaguely knew of Dupont's involvement in CHF. He refused to say under what authority he had a right to dispose of the taxpayer's money since only the General Assembly has that power under separation of powers. One thing the Attorney General should be aware of is that he was either snookered by the company and their lawyer who contributed to his campaign both during negotiations and after the "deal" was sealed, or he was a very poor lawyer dismissing a big player like Dupont on a song and a prayer. In any event the taxpayers got rolled.

Both columns are worth reading in their entirety.

August 9, 2006

The DuPont Understanding and the Rule of Lawyers

Carroll Andrew Morse

In today’s Projo, Mike Stanton reports on how Attorney General Patrick Lynch used the negotiations he led in the Rhode Island lead-paint lawsuit to compel DuPont to pay for a private law firm’s seat on a medical research executive advisory board. The private law firm is Motley-Rice, the firm retained by the Rhode Island Attorney General's office to try the lead paint case on a contingency basis…

[Motley-Rice] serves on the executive advisory board of the International Mesothelioma Program -- a seat that requires a pledge of $3 million, according to the program's annual report.

Jack McConnell, Motley Rice's lead lawyer in the lead-paint case, says he expects that the $2.5 million will count toward the firm's pledge.

DuPont representatives are saying that they were not aware that the money donated to charity by their company as part of its lead paint “understanding” with the Attorney General was being used to settle a Motley-Rice obligation…
A DuPont spokeswoman said the company was not aware of Motley Rice's ties to the mesothelioma program, but simply agreed to donate the $2.5 million to Brigham and Women's as the charity designated by Lynch.

Yesterday, DuPont released a statement saying that it "has instructed the hospital that its payment should not be credited to any pledge or obligation of Mr. McConnell, his law firm, or any other entity."

Bill Harsch, Republican candidate for Attorney General, is questioning on what basis the Attorney General claims the authority to use his office to unilaterally direct funds to favored entities…
“The law is clear,” Harsch said “state money should be directed to the General Treasury, and it is the responsibility of the General Assembly to appropriate that money. The Attorney General has overstepped his constitutional authority, and I am calling on the General Assembly to conduct full hearings into his actions”....

For Jack McConnell and Patrick Lynch to maintain that a total of $12.5 million will be going to Rhode Island efforts to address lead paint poisoning is patently false. We already know that at least $1.5 million will be going to Boston to fulfill a debt by Motley Rice for asbestos related cancer research. This is state money that has been hijacked for the purposes of private interests, and I think the Attorney General has some serious questions that need to be answered.”

Because of the obvious lack of accountability, hasn’t this matter clearly become a case where the Attorney General has allowed the rule of lawyers to replace the rule of law?

More detail on the network of unusual relationships underlying the Rhode Island lead paint case is available here.

August 3, 2006

Another Suspicious Lead Paint Relationship is Revealed

Carroll Andrew Morse

Michelle Smith of the Associated Press (via Boston.com) is reporting on yet another suspicious insider relationship related to DuPont's release from liability in the Rhode Island lead paint case...

When the state dropped DuPont Co. from its sweeping lawsuit against former makers of lead paint last year, one of the terms was that DuPont would donate $9 million to the Children's Health Forum for clean-up and education efforts in Rhode Island.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch at the time described the group as a national nonprofit organization focused on preventing childhood exposure to lead.

What no one mentioned were the extensive ties between DuPont and Washington-based Children's Health Forum: It was founded by a lawyer hired by DuPont to work on lead poisoning issues; it received most of its funding from the Wilmington, Del.-based company and most of its board members have ties to DuPont.

Government watchdogs say the relationship between the two, not previously reported, casts a new cloud over the deal, which let DuPont out of a case that could cost other lead paint companies billions of dollars.

In case you've lost track, let's recap the whole history of unusual relationships that have been revealed in this case so far...
  • The state of Rhode Island sues five paint manufacturers, Atlantic Richfield, DuPont, Millennium Holdings, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams for creating a "public nuisance" by selling lead paint (the companies are not tried under product liability laws because the state's case is too weak).
  • The Rhode Island Attorney General's office retains private law firms to represent the state on a contingency basis. One of the law firms is Motley-Rice. At some point, Motley-Rice pledges money to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for reasons unrelated to the lead paint action.
  • In July of 2005, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch agrees to drop DuPont from the suit in return for DuPont donating $12,500,000 to various charities. Eventually, three of the other defendants (Millennium, NL, Sherwin) are held responsible for damages that could amount to billions.
  • Around the same time he is negotiating DuPont's relatively cheap release from the lawsuit, the lawyer and the wife of the lawyer representing DuPont donate $2,500 to Patrick Lynch's re-election campaign.
  • One charity selected to receive a payout from DuPont payout is Brigham and Women's Hospital which has no anti-lead poisoning program. According to testimony from Attorney General Lynch, they are included, at least in part, because of Motley-Rice's unfulfilled pledges unrelated to lead paint.
  • A second charity selected to receive a payout is the Children's Health Forum, described in the excerpt at the top of this post. DuPont is thus released from the case in return for transferring money to an organization that it founded and already funds.


In today's Projo, Mike Stanton and Peter B. Lord fill in more details of the DuPont-Children's Health Forum deal.

July 28, 2006

Who Was Supposed to Benefit from the DuPont Lead Paint Settlement?

Carroll Andrew Morse

There is a new development in the Rhode Island lead paint case.

Last summer, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch dropped DuPont as a defendant in the case in return for DuPont agreeing to donate $12,500,000 to various charities. However, not all of the charities involved in the DuPont "understanding" (DuPont doesn't want it called a settlement) were lead-paint related. Mealey Publications, a legal newswire affiliated with Lexis-Nexis, is reporting that $2,500,000 of the $12,500,000 DuPont understanding is slated to go to a hospital with no lead-poisoning program. According to Mealey's...

The three organizations selected to receive money from DuPont were Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, The Children's Health Forum in Washington, D.C., and the Brown University Medical School in Providence, R.I.

BWH has no lead-poisoning prevention program.

Mealey's is also reporting that Attorney General Lynch implied that Brigham and Women's Hospital was included in the DuPont payout despite its lack of a lead-poisoning program because a law firm involved in the prosecution of the case owed money to Brigham and Women's...
When Lynch was asked in his deposition if one of the purposes of selecting BWH was to credit the $2.5 million as having come from Motley Rice in satisfaction of the pledge that firm had made to the hospital, Lynch said: "That it may."
Motley Rice is the firm hired by the Attorney General's office to prosecute the lead-paint case on a contingency basis. But is a law firm hired by the state supposed to be using the public process to make deals to settle its debts?

This matter is a separate matter from the state ethics commission's investigation of Attorney General Lynch's acceptance of campaign contributions from lawyers representing DuPont around the same time he was negotiating the understanding with DuPont.

July 6, 2006

Bill Harsch on Making Jessica’s Law Work

Carroll Andrew Morse

Governor Donald Carcieri signed Rhode Island's version of Jessica’s law on June 28 of this year…

Certain sex offenders would have to be electronically monitored for life under a law signed by Governor Carcieri today.

"Jessica's Law" applies to child rapists and other sex offenders considered likely to reoffend. It requires state authorities to track them with global positioning software from the time they're released from prison until their death.

Bill Harsch believes that additional changes in the law, as well as heightened public awareness, are necessary to make Jessica’s law effective…
According to the most recent statistics, Rhode Island’s population is approximately 1,076,189 full time residents, with 1,388 registered sex offenders. However, only 42 are listed as Level II and Level III. Contrastingly, Delaware with a population of 843,524 lists 3,067 registered sex offenders, of which 1,864 are listed as convicted Level II and III offenders.

“Either Rhode Island has a rather moral population of sexual predators, or we are not accounting for our total population of Level II and III offenders, Harsch said.” “That is why, today I am also pledging to introduce legislation that will make it harder for convicted sex offenders to escape their state-determined risk assessment. Only once we are able to fully account for our most dangerous sexual predators will legislation like Jessica’s Law be truly effective.”

Mr. Harsch promises to implement the following 4 steps if elected Attorney General…
  1. Improve the accessibility of Rhode Island’ Online Sexual Offender Database.
  2. Amend the Sexual Offender Notification Guidelines to provide more accurate information regarding the home and employer address of registered offenders.
  3. Introduce an online educational initiative to help parents protect their children from online sexual predators.
  4. Make it harder for convicted sexual offenders to avoid registration as Level II and Level III offenders.
The loophole referred to in step 4 is particularly troubling. According to Harsch, Level II and III offenders can reduce their status to Level I, simply by entering an appeal process…
Currently, Rhode Island law allows for state-designated Level II and Level III offenders to appeal their appointed classification, at which time they become listed as Level I offenders, and are no longer subject to online identification. Because sex offenders are among the most likely type of offenders to recidivate, it is critical that the state be allowed to make an appropriate determination as to the classification of those offenders, and for notification guidelines be followed until a final appeal regarding a requested change in status is made.

June 29, 2006

Bill Harsch to File Ethics Complaint Against Patrick Lynch

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Associated Press (via the Projo's 7-to-7 blog) is reporting on Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch’s acceptance of campaign contributions from a lawyer representing the DuPont Corporation at around the time that the lawyer and Lynch were negotiating Dupont's release from any liability in the Rhode Island lead paint trial

Attorney General Patrick Lynch accepted campaign contributions from the chief negotiator for DuPont Co. at the same time he was in talks with the company to drop it from the state's landmark lawsuit against former lead paint companies, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Attorney Bernard Nash, who represented DuPont, negotiated the deal reached with the state in June 2005 to drop it from the lawsuit in exchange for DuPont donating about $12.5 million to three charities. Campaign documents filed with the state show that both before and after the settlement was reached, Nash contributed at least $1,500 to Lynch's campaign committee...

The deal with DuPont dismissed the company from the lawsuit in exchange for its donations to the Children's Health Forum, a nonprofit group that works to prevent lead poisoning, Brown University Medical School and the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston.

Nash first made contact with Lynch's office to work out a deal for DuPont in 2003, according to court documents related to the lead paint case. Depositions from January of Lynch and his chief of staff, Leonard Lopes, show Nash was DuPont's primary contact with the Attorney General's Office as the deal was negotiated. The deal was announced June 30, 2005.

Documents filed by Lynch's campaign with the state Board of Elections show Nash gave Lynch donations totaling at least $1,500.

The first, for $500, was on June 30, 2004. On Dec. 20, 2005, Nash gave Lynch's campaign $1,000, the maximum individual political donation allowed in Rhode Island per calendar year.

The executive director of one of the charities whom DuPont agreed to donate to in return for being dropped from the suit also gave a contribution to the Lynch campaign...
According to campaign records, Lynch also accepted a $250 donation from Olivia Morgan, executive director of the Children's Health Forum, which stands to receive millions of dollars from DuPont's deal with the state. Her donation was recorded Dec. 20, 2005, about six months after the settlement was reached.
According to the AP, Bill Harsch intends today to file an ethics complaint concerning the questionable contributions ...
The campaign of Bill Harsch, Lynch's Republican challenger in this year's elections, planned to file a complaint today with the state Ethics Commission, alleging conflict of interest and influence peddling, Harsch told the AP.

June 27, 2006

Bill Harsch on What's Wrong with the Public Utilities Commission and the Attorney General

Carroll Andrew Morse

National Grid is overcharging its Rhode Island customers. In a May filing with the Public Utilities Commission, National Grid estimated they would be collecting $48,400,000 more than was needed to pay for electricity by the end of 2006. (Think of the amount of money involved this way: in the space of a year, National Grid will suck about 1/2 of the proposed casino license fee out of the Rhode Island economy).

As Rhode Island Attorney General Candidate Bill Harsch explained in a public briefing last week, the sequence of events in response to the overcharges show that neither the Public Utilities Commission nor the current Attorney General are upholding their legal responsibilities to protect Rhode Island citizens from the problems inherent in utility monopolies...

  • The law is clear that the duty of the PUC with respect to electric carriers is to make sure that electricity rates accurately reflect production and transmission costs. Yet the Public Utilities Commission has invoked a mysterious “price stability” doctrine to justify keeping electric rates high. On what authority is the PUC going beyond the bounds of the law to mandate higher than necessary electric rates? When did the job of the PUC become protecting a monopoly carrier from market fluctuations, instead of protecting individuals from the danger of a monopoly fixing prices?
  • The rate cut proposed by the PUC does not provide adequate relief to Rhode Island ratepayers. According to National Grid's March filing, a reduction to a 9.4¢ per-kWh rate would have reconciled $31,900,000 in overcharges. This means that the current reduction to a 9.6¢ per-kWh rate can erase only a fraction of the now-projected $48,400,000 in overcharges. Mr. Harsch believes (and he has the law on his side) that rates should be lowered to reconcile the entire amount overcharged.
  • When National Grid asked for a rate increase in 2005, the PUC called for a series of public hearings within two weeks of the initial filings. When National Grid asked to lower rates this year, the PUC issued its recommendation against lowering rates without holding any hearings dedicated to the subject. Where was the opportunity for public participation in the process?
  • Finally, where has the Attorney General been through this? By law, the AG is notified of rate filings. The docket for the rate increases that occurred in 2005 makes note of his participation, but there is no record of his participation in the 2006 rate-lowering/“price stability” process. When National Grid renegged on their proposal to lower rates, even as they conceded they were still overcharging, why didn’t the Attorney General intervene to demand that the law be followed?
Since the Attorney General has taken no action in response to the odd (dare I say collusive?) actions of National Grid and the Public Utilities Commission with respect to electric rates, Bill Harsch intends to file an action on behalf of National Grid ratepayers, seeking to lower rates to a level that reconciles the full $48,400,000 in projected overcharges...
Former Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission and Attorney General Candidate Bill Harsch today announced his intent to file a complaint with the PUC to reduce Rhode Island’s electric utility rates.

“In the absence of an effective Attorney General and with the summer cooling season fast approaching, I am taking the initiative to argue for a reduction in Rhode Island’s soaring electricity rates in front of the Public Utilities Commission,” Harsch said….

Next week, I will be joined in my effort by former Special Assistant Attorney General Richard Crowell whose experience in rate cases is well-established and highly respected.

It is my hope that by taking this step, we will be sending a clear message to the people of Rhode Island that there is someone willing to stand up and fight for their interests. It is my hope that we will be triumphant.”

June 26, 2006

Bill Harsch: "In the absence of an effective Attorney General�I am taking the initiative to argue for a reduction in Rhode Island�s soaring electricity rates in front of the Public Utilities Commission"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Suppose the electric company offered you a rate cut. Would you answer...

  • "Yes, I'll take it", or
  • "No thank you, I'd prefer that my rates be stable instead of low".
Bill Harsch, candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General, wants you to know that this question is not a hypothetical one, because the State of Rhode Island has determined that people prefer "stable" rates to low rates and no one is advocating otherwise.

In mid-2005, National Grid was making a Standard Offer of 6.2¢ per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity to its customers. Because of rising fuel costs, National Grid determined that a rate increase was necessary, made the appropriate filings, and received permission from the Public Utilities Commission to raise rates to 10.0¢ per-kWh beginning January 1, 2006.

National Grid and the PUC, however, overestimated how much fuel costs would rise. By the end of March 2006, it was obvious that millions of dollars more were being collected from customers each month than was needed to pay for electricity. To reconcile the overcharges, National Grid asked the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission on March 31 of this year for permission to lower its rates.

On your behalf, the Public Utilities Commission initially answered don't bother -- keep your rates high if you want.

Here are the details. On March 31, National Grid sent a letter to the Public Utilities Commission stating that the utility expected to collect $31,900,000 more from ratepayers by the end of 2006 than was needed to cover costs and that the Standard Offer to electricity customers should be reduced from 10.0¢ to 9.4¢ per-kWh to reconcile the overcharges. But before the PUC took any action, National Grid revised its estimate. In an April 21 letter, National Grid said, due to changes in fuel costs, they had revised their year-end overcharge projection to $14,600,000 and that a reconciliation would only require dropping the Standard Offer to 9.7¢ per kWh.

Four days later, the Public Utilities Commission -- without holding any public hearings dedicated to the subject -- issued a recommendation in response to National Grid's filing. The PUC's recommendation was that no reduction in electricity rates occur, despite the projected overcharges. The PUC based its decision on a doctrine of price stability...

If price stability is the objective, then a prudent course of action may be to defer any action on the standard offer price at this time and continue to monitor the fuel markets and their effect on the underlying cost to serve the standard offer customer base. Another month or so of market information would be helpful in assessing what type of rate effects might occur in 2007 from a price reduction in 2006.
However, on May 31, National Grid revised upward its estimate of how badly it was overcharging its customers. Now, National Grid projected that, if rates were held constant, $48,400,000 more would be collected from ratepayers by the end of 2006 than would spent on electricity. But despite the fact that the projected over-charges to Rhode Island customers were 50% higher than in their March estimate, National Grid now parroted the PUC line, withdrawing its rate lowering request and declaring that the price changes were too difficult to follow, so rates should just be kept high, regardless of actual costs...
The Company believes that, given the difficulty of predicting the reconciliation balance with a reasonable degree of accuracy by more than two or three months, the best course of action at this time is to maintain a stable Standard Offer Service rate at the current level. We will continue to monitor fuel prices and their affect on both the projected and actual Standard Offer reconciliation balance.
Eventually, in June, in light of the electricity overcharges now averaging $100 per-ratepaying household (and because, I suspect, of the attention being brought to the problem by Bill Harsch) the PUC recommended a modest lowering rates to 9.6¢ per kWh starting on July 1.

Mr. Harsch does not believe this to be sufficient...

June 7, 2006

AG Patrick Lynch Using Public Staff to Fight a Personal Fine

Carroll Andrew Morse

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch has been fined twice by Judge Michael A. Silverstein for remarks he has made related to the state's lead paint trial. As Peter B. Lord reports in the Projo, the Judge has been clear that he is fining Patrick Lynch personally, and not the Office of the Attorney General…

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, in a highly unusual action, was ordered to pay an additional $10,000 personal fine yesterday for making critical comments about three corporations after a jury found that they created a public nuisance with their lead-based paints.

Judge Michael A. Silverstein imposed the fine yesterday as a result of a second instance in which he found Lynch in contempt of court rules prohibiting lawyers from criticizing each other publicly during the trial.

On the first occasion, Silverstein fined Lynch $5,000, also to be paid with his own funds.

Despite this fact, Lynch has directed staffers in the Attorney General’s office to handle the appeal…
Lynch plans to appeal both fines to the state Supreme Court. His staff argued in hearings that the judge's sanctions violated Lynch's First Amendment rights to free speech.
Bill Harsch, Republican candidate for Attorney General, thinks the public should (in addition to getting a new Attorney General) get back any money used for Lynch’s defense...
I am calling for an immediate halt to Patrick Lynch using taxpayer money and the resources of his office to fund his personal appeals and defense against these sanctions. I am also calling for the State’s Auditor General’s office to perform an outside audit detailing the expenses incurred by taxpayers to date for all time, materials and expenses associated with his appeals and for a full and complete reimbursement to the taxpayers for any expenses they have incurred to date. There is also the question as to whether or not he has violated a state law for using his office inappropriately for his personal defense.

For Patrick Lynch to ignore the judge by repeatedly violating the rules of the court and then to nonchalantly fund his defense with taxpayers money goes far beyond arrogance and speaks to what little respect he has for the public, the judge and the law itself.

April 27, 2006

Bill Harsch Wants to Know Where the Money from the DuPont Lead Paint "Understanding" Is

Carroll Andrew Morse

Relatively speaking, the DuPont Chemical Company got off lightly in the Rhode Island lead paint case. DuPont agreed to donate $12,500,000 to charity, while the other defendants could end up liable for damages totaling in the billions.

However, according to Attorney General candidate Bill Harsch, DuPont has yet to pay anything at all. This is from a Harsch campaign press release...

After being pressed by Attorney General Candidate Bill Harsch last week, [Current Attorney General] Patrick Lynch revealed that despite reaching an "understanding" with Dupont Chemical Co., Rhode Island has yet to receive any monetary compensation from the deal.

"It has been almost a full year since the so called 'understanding' was announced that got DuPont off the hook in the lead paint trial and yet they still have not paid a single penny towards satisfying their end of the deal" stated Harsch.
Part of the problem appears to be that "one of the law firms who represented the state's interests" has taken a direct financial interest in the money that DuPont agreed to pay to charity...
"This brings up serious questions and concerns surrounding the deal that DuPont struck. I recently called for the Attorney General to fully disclose all of the terms and conditions associated with the DuPont deal. He neglected to provide any details on the terms of the settlement and only said that none of the $12 million had been received due to there being a lien placed on the settlement by one of the law firms who represented the state's interests during those negotiations....

Harsch said that his campaign plans to file a Public Records Request to determine the specifics of the original contingency-fee agreement and the settlement with DuPont.
A lien has been placed despite the fact that, according to Peter B. Lord in the Projo, the primary law firm hired by the state to handle the lead paint case waived "any claim of the settlement reached by Lynch with DuPont".

April 3, 2006

The Lead Paint Trial Continues

Carroll Andrew Morse

Julie Creswell of the New York Times had an excellent summary in Sunday's paper of the Rhode Island lead paint trial and how it may not be as finished as you think it is. In addition to detailing the history of the case and the pending issues involving possible appeals and setting damages, Ms. Creswell also reported on a mostly unnoticed aspect of the case that was heard today by the Rhode Island Supreme court...

As painful and expensive as the case's outcome could be for the paint companies, it also raises issues that go far beyond that industry. In particular, should state officials be allowed to essentially outsource public-health and public-nuisance cases to private legal firms that will try the cases free but take a piece of any recoveries made? Seven years ago, Sheldon Whitehouse, then Rhode Island's attorney general, agreed to those terms.

Defense lawyers representing the paint companies say that contingency-fee lawyers are interested only in racking up huge settlements, not in addressing the underlying problem. They have formally challenged the practice before the Rhode Island Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the issue tomorrow.

The official name of the case is State of Rhode Island v. Lead Paint Industries Association.

There's a slight quibble with Ms. Creswell's reporting. The use of contingency fees in this case is an issue, in part, because the lawyers didn't really provide their services for free. According to the Washington Legal Foundation, which has filed an amicus brief in the case,...

The State agreed that if it ever decided to drop the suit, it would be required to pay its attorneys on a quantum meruit basis; i.e., the value of all hours devoted to the case, at the attorneys' regular hourly rates....

[In their amicus brief], WLF also argued that the contract clause requiring a quantum meruit fee payment if the State seeks to abandon its suit effectively cedes all control of the suit to the lawyers -- because the Attorney General does not have at his disposal the millions of dollars required to satisfy that fee obligation.

What the WLF is pointing out is that after contingency-fee lawyers have invested so much time in a case, the state must continue to pursue it, not in the interest of the public good, but because it's the only way to pay off the lawyers without bankrupting the Attorney General�s office.

There's another dimension to this problem raised in the WLF brief...

WLF argued that the private attorneys handling the case for Rhode Island have an irreconcilable conflict with the State because it is in their interest to maximize any damage award paid by the defendant -- the larger the award, the larger the fee they will receive. WLF noted that a damage award based on the cost of removing all lead paint would be vastly larger than an award based on the cost of ensuring that painted surfaces on older buildings are kept intact. WLF argued that the decision of the attorneys to seek the former remedy -- despite the views of the Rhode Island legislature and virtually all scientists that the latter remedy is far better from a public health standpoint -- can only be explained by the attorneys' financial interest in maximizing their own fees.
In other words, since contingency fee lawyers are compensated based of damages awarded, they have an incentive to advocate (in the name of the state) for whatever is most expensive, not for what is most effective.

A third problem with states hiring contingency-fee layers to pursue class-action cases is described in detail in an amicus brief filed by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Remember the cronyism that everyone was upset about after the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court? Well, according to the Chamber of Commerce, it runs rampant through the world of public contingency fee litigation. Their amicus brief lists 7 cases in 7 different states (list) where Attorney Generals made either their political donors or their former law firms rich by farming out contingency fee cases.

Unfortunately, Rhode Island does not seem to be immune to this. Jack McConnell, the lead lawyer in the lead paint case, is a big donor to the Rhode Island Democratic Party. Should the Attorney General be using his office to help enrich big Democratic donors?

Finally, one other campaign contribution of interest has been brought to Anchor Rising�s attention. Last summer, paint manufacturer DuPont "settled" their part of the case for donations totaling $12.5 million dollars to be given to various charities. Not everyone involved in the DuPont agreement, however, agrees that "settling" describes the final result. Here is Dupont's position, as quoted in the Times...

A spokeswoman for DuPont, Mary Kate Campbell, said, "When you look at the terms of the understanding that we reached with the Rhode Island attorney general, the attorney general and the state of Rhode Island got nothing. Nor did any of the outside lawyers."
But is it true that the Attorney General got nothing? Last December, after the case was "settled", a lawyer by the name of Bernard Nash gave a $1,000 campaign contribution to Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Mr. Nash works for the law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro, Morin & Oshinsky. Mr. Nash's firm is listed on a website called the "Dupont Legal Model" as a "Challenge Award Winner" with Bernard Nash listed as an "Engagement Partner"

Here's how the Dickstein website describes their relationship with DuPont...

DuPont continues to rely on Dickstein Shapiro's attorneys for a competitive edge in resolving complex public policy and litigation matters, and recently recognized the Firm as one of the best among its select network of Primary Law Firms and Service Providers.
Should an Attorney General really be taking a $1,000 contribution from a member of a law firm involved with a corporation that just settled a multi-million dollar case with his state?

Continue reading "The Lead Paint Trial Continues"

March 20, 2006

Bill Harsch for Attorney General: "The Present System Benefitting the Chosen Few at the Expense of Working Rhode Islanders has to be Changed"

Carroll Andrew Morse

At his official campaign kick-off on Friday, Rhode Island Attorney General candidate William Harsch explained that a key component of his campaign will be increasing awareness about what the office of the Attorney General should be doing, but is not doing under the tenure of the current office-holder.

According to Mr. Harsch, the mission of the Attorney General is twofold. The AG must act both defensively and proactively, fighting crime and corruption after something goes wrong, as well as advocating for the public in areas like utility rates and health costs before problems begin. Mr. Harsch laments that in Rhode Island, because "the pro-active piece has been totally missing for so long", people have forgotten that it is an important part of the job.

With regard to corruption, Mr. Harsch promised to...

  • Join with Governor Carcieri to eliminate existing corruption and prevent future abuses and work to replace Rhode Island's culture of corruption with a culture of integrity.
  • Hold individuals who have betrayed the public trust, including members of non-profit boards and members of the General Assembly, accountable for their actions.
With regard to utilities, Mr. Harsch promised to...
  • "Participate aggressively in every utility rate and facility filing before the Public Utilities Commission". Mr. Harsch noted that, by law, the Attorney General is a party to board meetings and that his absence is noted if he fails to attend.
  • Go to Washington to address the fuel cost formula that determines utility rates in RI, because at least 70% of costs are determined by a formula that artificially ties all energy costs -- even energy generated from alternative sources -- to snapshots of oil and natural gas prices. According to Mr. Harsch, this odd system exists because nobody from the Attorney General's office was present to represent Rhode Island when the current formula was created.
With regard to healthcare, Mr. Harsch promised to...
  • Look very hard and very aggressively at future proposals for rate increases, at proposals for coverage decreases, and at costs that have been wrapped up in the past for "bonuses, gifts, and perks of every kind".
  • Investigate monies being lost to special reserve accounts and because of legislative add-ons.
Mr. Harsch went on to cite a few highlights from his 30-years of advocating for the public interest, including defending the constitutional rights of individuals from well-connected landfill owners who tried using lawsuits to suppress public criticism of their operation, taking on state government insiders who wanted to build an incinerator at Quonset (a project that would have stifled the development potential that the state is now realizing there), taking on the electric company "to end the rate-increase scam called pancaking", taking on Foxwoods and Time-Warner to prevent them from building an amusement park in a rural town, and stopping the General Assembly from driving shell fisherman off of Narrgansett Bay.

Mr. Harsch said he has been and will continue to be effective in serving the public because he is willing to step on some toes, even well-connected toes, when that is what is necessary to protect the public interest. In concluding, he said that he does not view the rewards of public service in terms of access to special deals or fancy jobs. Instead...

My reward is being able to stand here today and say to you that I am ready give Rhode Islanders what they deserve for a change. Let the message be very clear. This state does not exist to make a few powerful families rich...Rhode Island needs an Attorney General who will be the people's lawyer, an Attorney General who will do the people's business, and not the business of a political machine or a political party, or some other special interest. I humbly submit to you that I am that candidate.

Bill Harsch For Attorney General: "It's Time to Drive the Snakes Out of Rhode Island"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland in the fifth century AD. On St. Patrick's Day of this year, William Harsch drew upon that image to kick off his campaign for the office of Rhode Island Attorney General.

In his announcement, Mr. Harsch told a crowd numbering in the hundreds -- including Governor Donald Carcieri, Senator Lincoln Chafee, and former Attorney General Arlene Violet -- that he is running for Attorney General to serve the "hard-working, honorable, proud people of Rhode Island" who are shut out of a system where political insiders expect the people to "pay taxes, keep quiet and stay out of the public process". He believes that Rhode Island needs an Attorney General who will prevent corruption and big-business monopolies from taking advantage of Rhode Island citizens "as they go about their daily tasks of providing for their families, paying taxes, making a living and making their communities better".

Mr. Harsch called out the snakes he seeks to drive from Rhode Island -- snakes that have the form of entrenched, self-serving interests -- by name. First, he discussed the institutional snakes.

  • Utilities -- Mr. Harsch explained how Rhode Island's small size makes certain portions of its economy vulnerable to large entities that seek to eliminate competition. Specifically, certain utility companies have become "effectively unchallenged and effectively unregulated monopolies" that have had "their abuses rewarded". Mr. Harsch criticized the gas company for getting a 30% rate increase at the start of the heating season, then setting a record for shutting people off. He also warned that their profits have made them such "a fat and attractive takeover target" that Rhode Island is well on its way to being served by only a single, foreign-owned gas and electric utility.
  • Beacon Mutual -- Mr. Harsch explained that Beacon Mutual was intended to be the worker's compensation insurer of last resort and intended to encourage insurance competition, but "with the help of the General Assembly, they turned themselves into an effective monopoly". He decried Beacon Mutual's "egregious" profits, taken from "the profits and the pockets of every single business in the state, including small business" and questioned their practice of fighting against taxpayer interests using taxpayer money. Mr. Harsch also noted that the current Attorney General is "nowhere to be seen in that particular fight".
  • Blue Cross -- According to Mr. Harsch, Blue Cross has been allowed to exert "a stranglehold on the healthcare market in this state". He believes that health maintenance organizations (HMOs) need to be returned to their basic mission and become something different from what they have now become -- monopolies "loaded with political friends who are doing good things for other political friends and being protected and encouraged by our General Assembly"-- and that Rhode Island legislators have corrupted "something that was a very good idea" by using anti-competitive standards and requirements that discourage other insurers from entering Rhode Island's healthcare market. As an example of this, Mr. Harsch cited laws requiring all insurers to cover -- and all insurees to pay for -- fertility treatments of any kind, something he believes should "be the election of an individual" and not "imposed on the public by action of the General Assembly".
Mr. Harsch also named some individual snakes...
  • The departed and discredited former president of Blue Cross who received a $600,000 "divorce present" from the company.
  • The Roger Williams Hospital board member hospital who received a $500,000 payment while overseeing a hospital President caught abusing expense accounts.
  • Former Senators John Celona and William Irons.
  • "What about the fire officials in West Warwick?"
Mr. Harsch criticized the current Attorney General for being absent from these cases; "None of these people and none of these organizations have anything to fear from the present Rhode Island Attorney General's office. That is a disgrace. Rhode Islanders deserve far, far, better".

Coming later today: How Bill Harsch plans to drive the snakes away...

September 15, 2005

Attorney General Candidate Bill Harsch

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to a letter sent out by the Campaign Committee to elect Bill Harsch, Harsch's campaign for Attorney General is motivated by some very specific complaints against current AG Patrick Lynch...

Justice is not a privilege reserved for elite politicians, high-priced lobbyists, union bosses, and corporate fat cats. Justice is a right to which all Rhode Islanders are entitled.

Patrick Lynch's tenure as Attorney General is a paltry record of justice delayed and justice denied. Just consider the facts. The health and safety of Rhode Island's children are threatened by the weakest sex offender registration laws in the country, while Patrick uses his office as a billboard to proclaim the "wisdom" of Spider-Man. Our roadway safety is compromised by the highest rate of drunk driving incidents in the country, while as our chief law enforcement officer Patrick accepts thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from liquor interests. John Celona's prosecution and the related investigation into corporate corruption in our halls of government is quietly left to the federal government, while as our constitutional guardian of justice Patrick takes no action against his former lobbying clients, such as CVS. Need we mention how Patrick has ignominiously bumbled and fumbled his way through the Station Nightclub Fire investigation?

The people of Rhode Island do not merely deserve better. We deserve equal justice!

We need Bill Harsch as our next Attorney General. Bill Harsch will bring a refreshing commitment to justice for all Rhode Islanders to the Attorney General's office. Bill will not be beholden to any special interests, family relations, or political alliances. Bill is an experienced attorney and public servant whose dedication to preserving our rights and liberties by ensuring open, honest, and efficient government, and aggressively enforcing the criminal and civil laws of our state without regard for the race, wealth or political connections of the parties concerned, is unimpeachable.

We know Rhode Island can be a better place. We know justice can, must, and will be done. We know, with your help, Bill Harsch can win this election. Join us in this endeavor. Please support Bill Harsch for Attorney General.