New at 3:45: Board of Governors looking into Chafee docs leak
Lincoln Chafee’s campaign manager, John “J.R.” Pagliarini, apparently resigned this morning after reporter Jim Taricani showed him documents suggesting he collected state jobless benefits even after starting work for the campaign. From the Projo’s report, though, it’s not clear to me whether he actually did that:
[Chafee spokesman Mike Trainor] said Pagliarini did not go to work for the campaign until Jan. 4, which was two days after the last period in which he was still collecting unemployment benefits.
He said Pagliarini got his first paycheck on January 15, which the campaign’s automated payroll system translated into a start date of December 19th even though he was not working for the campaign at that point.
When viewed in context of the payments reflected in Chafee’s fourth-quarter campaign filing for 2009, Trainor acknowledged the documents make it appear that Pagliarini was receiving unemployment benefits and compensation from the Chafee campaign ”during the same December 19, 2009 through January 2, 2010 period.”
That raises more questions – if Pagliarini did not accept jobless benefits while working for Chafee, as alleged, why did he resign immediately? It could be he was afraid this would become a distraction. Or it could be there’s more to the story here. Too soon to tell.
Regardless of that, though, losing the campaign manager less than three weeks before the election is bad news for the Chafee campaign. This race sure has gotten nasty.
Update: Just got a statement from the Chafee campaign confirming Pagliarini’s resignation. Here’s how they describe the allegations:
Based on information that was illegally leaked by the Department of Labor & Training to WJAR’s Jim Taricani, it has come to the attention of the campaign that Pagliarini may have unintentionally received unemployment insurance benefits for a brief period of time after having joined the campaign payroll. (emphasis mine)
So did Pagliarini collect jobless benefits while on the payroll or didn’t he? Chafee’s spokesman didn’t pick up the phone when I called, no doubt amid a deluge of other inquiries.
Update #2: Just to be clear, here’s The Journal’s timeline of events:
- Jan. 2: Pagliarini’s jobless benefits stop
- Jan. 4: Pagliarini starts working for Chafee
- Jan. 15: Pagliarini gets his first paycheck from Chafee, dated back to Dec. 19
That timeline is certainly plausible. But if that’s what happened, why did Trainor’s statement say Pagliarini “may have unintentionally received unemployment insurance benefits”? Was the statement just poorly worded, or is the campaign backtracking from the defense it gave The Journal earlier? Still no word from the Chafee camp.
Update #3: Here’s The Associated Press’ take on the imbroglio:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – The campaign manager for independent gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee has quit after acknowledging he drew unemployment benefits while listed on the campaign payroll. J.R. Pagliarini says it was an unintentional goof. Acting campaign manager Mike Trainor blames the problem on the campaign’s payroll system. (emphasis mine)
Update #4: Mike Trainor spoke with Dan Yorke on WPRO-AM around 1:45 p.m. His basic message: this was a complicated, computer-caused payroll snafu, and Pagliarini resigned to get out of Chafee’s way and avoid being a distraction with two and a half weeks to go before the election.
Yorke argued the resignation just made the problem worse. “People will think, boy there must have been something to it,” he said. Trainor disagreed.
Update #5: The other big question – to me at least – is how the heck the unemployment insurance documents got into Jim Taricani’s hands.
As a fellow reporter, I give him props for the scoop. So far, though, it’s not clear exactly what document he’s got. Is it some sort of jobless benefit paystub sent to Pagliarini? Is it an internal R.I. Department of Labor and Training record?
WJAR has yet to acknowledge the story at all on its website, so there’s no additional information available beyond what Projo and the AP have reported. (Yes, I’ve called Chafee’s campaign – repeatedly.) If the documents came out of DLT, that’s quite a security breach, since jobless benefit records are all confidential under state and federal law.
DLT Director Sandra Powell has ordered an internal investigation, and Gov. Carcieri’s office is aware of it, DLT spokeswoman Laura Hart told me a few minutes ago. Hart declined to speculate on what happened since she hasn’t seen the document that Taricani has, either.
(image credit: Chafee for Governor)