By Ted Nesi and Tim White
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Treasurer Gina Raimondo continued to raise campaign cash at a rip-roaring pace during the first three months of 2013, far outpacing the other leading candidates for the state’s top job.
By Ted Nesi and Tim White
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Treasurer Gina Raimondo continued to raise campaign cash at a rip-roaring pace during the first three months of 2013, far outpacing the other leading candidates for the state’s top job.
By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Flanked by state leaders, R.I. Governor Lincoln Chafee on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping legislative package that would ban semi-automatic weapons, increase prison sentences for those carrying stolen firearms and create a commission to study whether the state should submit mental health records to the federal background check system.
By Ted Nesi
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – More than half of Rhode Island voters support allowing same-sex marriage in the state, while most opponents of the idea say it conflicts with their religious beliefs, according to a new poll released Thursday by Brown University.
The poll also found Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s approval rating is a dismal 26%. ”Lincoln Chafee still has not been able to move his numbers after over two years as governor,” WPRI 12 political analyst Joe Fleming said.
Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George Nee says the CEO of Steward Health Care System, Landmark Medical Center’s would-be buyer, is wrong to criticize Attorney General Peter Kilmartin for his attempts to mediate the company’s dispute with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the attorney general at all,” Nee told WPRI.com on Tuesday. “Having been sitting there, I don’t think it’s fair. But I don’t want to say too much because I want to see if I can maintain a good relationship and dialogue.”
Nee and Kilmartin, a first-term Democrat, started working together last month in an effort to resolve the Steward-Blue Cross dispute and keep the struggling Woonsocket hospital’s sale on track. Nee said he was asked to get involved in the talks by Chris Callaci, the lawyer for the nurses union at Landmark.
By Ted Nesi
WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is brushing off a scathing letter he received from the would-be buyer of struggling Landmark Medical Center that accuses the state’s top prosecutor of “behavior below your status as a prominent elected leader.”
The war of words raises new concerns about the status of behind-the-scenes negotiations to save Landmark, with the attorney general’s Aug. 31 deadline for Steward to close on its purchase of the hospital now less than two weeks away.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s most prominent political leaders are divided on whether they should allow the public to review their income tax returns and find out how much they paid the government.
Out of 12 leading politicians surveyed by WPRI.com, six said they would disclose the results of their 2011 tax filings as soon as they become available: U.S. Sen. Jack Reed; Congressman David Cicilline; Republican congressional candidate Brendan Doherty; Republican U.S. Senate candidate Barry Hinckley; Treasurer Gina Raimondo; and Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
Tax rates have become a political hot potato in 2012. Democrats spent the last few weeks publicizing their proposed “Buffett rule” requiring a higher tax rate on income above $1 million, and President Obama is pressuring Republican Mitt Romney to release his returns. In the U.K., David Cameron may soon become the first British prime minister to disclose his tax bill.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who led Democrats in beating the drum for the Buffett rule, requested an extension to finish his 2011 tax returns, spokesman Seth Larson said. Larson declined to say whether Whitehouse will break with his past practice and release his returns once they’re completed. In 2010, Whitehouse disclosed that his net worth was at least $3.5 million.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and his colleagues from across the country have reached a $25 billion settlement with the big banks for foreclosure abuses. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog has a solid FAQ explaining the deal. Felix Salmon likes it and Tom Sgouros doesn’t.
$25 billion is a lot of money, but how much of that will wind up in Rhode Island? Here’s a chart offering the official answer ($172 million), sent along by AG Kilmartin’s press secretary Amy Kempe:
For more information, visit riag.ri.gov/mortgagesettlement, the website Kilmartin’s office set up to help people understand the settlement and make use of it (if they’re eligible).
A new Brown University poll released Thursday morning found 60% of Rhode Island voters support the pension overhaul signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee last month and only 28% oppose it, with 90% calling it important to the state’s economic future. A majority of Republicans (64%), independents (64%) and Democrats (58%) all support the new law.
But the legislation did nothing for Chafee’s approval rating, which dipped to 27% this month from 32% in March. His support is highest among Democrats, at 39%, and lower among independents (22%) and Republicans (15%).
By contrast, Raimondo’s approval rating jumped from 40% to 52% over the same period, but her support is weakest among members of her own Democratic Party (38%) compared with 61% among Republicans and 60% among independents. She ties Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, also at 52% approval, as the state’s most popular politician.
The news is grim for Congressman David Cicilline. With less than a year to go before he faces reelection, Cicilline’s approval rating is just 23% in the 1st Congressional District. The redistricting commission will hold a hearing tonight on a new map that would redraw the district to make it safer for Cicilline. A vote is set for Monday.
Kilmartin donated the $300 he received from ProCAP executive director Frank Corbishley to a pair of nonprofit organizations that help pay heating bills: the Salvation Army Good Neighbor Energy Fund and the Diocese Keep the Head On, spokeswoman Amy Kempe said Monday. ProCAP doles out fuel assistance dollars.
Corbishley, who was suspended last week over alleged financial mismanagement at ProCAP, made three donations to Kilmartin after he became a candidate for attorney general: $50 in June 2010; $150 in October 2010, when he was the Democratic nominee; and $100 last June, after he took office.
By Ted Nesi
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Community Action Program’s embattled leader donated money to Mayor Angel Taveras and City Council President Michael Solomon in recent months even as they examined alleged financial improprieties at his agency.
Taveras, however, didn’t keep the $150 contribution made to his campaign account on June 1 by ProCAP executive director Frank Corbishley. The mayor refunded the money less than three weeks later, on June 18, according to Board of Elections records.
Corbishley donated $150 to Solomon on Sept. 30, the last day for which filings are currently available. Solomon, who oversees ProCAP as chairman of its board of directors, also took a $125 contribution from the taxpayer-funded nonprofit’s longtime executive director in late 2009.
Solomon is just one of seven top Rhode Island Democrats who collected a combined $4,290 in political contributions over the past nine years from ProCAP’s executive director, who is now accused of allowing “staggering mismanagement” of the nonprofit’s finances. Taveras is the only politician who gave Corbishley his money back.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin was our guest Thursday to tape this weekend’s edition of WPRI 12′s “Newsmakers.” You can watch the episode here.
During the show, Kilmartin said nobody has been deported since the federal immigration program Secure Communities started up in Rhode Island in March.
But it turns out that’s not the case, Tim White reports in a new WPRI.com story that will surely provide more grist for the debate over the policy:
Fourteen people have been deported to their home countries since Rhode Island implemented the controversial federal immigration program Secure Communities in March.
According to figures provided by the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office, 9,467 fingerprints have been submitted to federal officials since March 22 through Secure Communities. Of those, 100 people have been handed over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement custody.
Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, said 42 of the 100 were “level one offenders.”
“Those are individuals who have committed the most heinous crimes,” Kempe said.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin thinks the world of former State Police Col. Brendan Doherty. But when it comes to next year’s 1st Congressional District race, he’s standing by fellow Democrat David Cicilline.
“David Cicilline, as far as I know, will be the Democratic nominee, and if he’s the Democratic nominee, that’s who I’ll be supporting,” Kilmartin said Thursday during a taping of WPRI 12′s “Newsmakers.”
Kilmartin hasn’t always made Cicilline’s life easier – in last year’s attorney general race, he hammered opponent Joe Fernandez for failing to prosecute Cicilline’s brother over a bad check when Fernandez was city solicitor. (That allegation earned Kilmartin a “Pants on Fire” rating from PolitiFact.)
“Brendan is a dear friend of mine, and I admire him greatly, and that’s not to diminish any of his qualities,” Kilmartin said. “I think he’s a great candidate – I frankly wish he were a Democrat. But the reality is, I am a Democrat and I will stick by the party.”
Kilmartin touched on a range of topics during the interview, including Central Falls, pension fraud, public corruption, his lack of success with the General Assembly, the death penalty, immigration and his relationship with Governor Chafee. He also acknowledged his office is sometimes hampered by limited resources.
“It’s a question of, if I take something from here I have to borrow it from there,” Kilmartin said. “There are a lot of stresses in that office, frankly, personnel-wise. I could easily justify 50 more prosecutors. But I know the reality of the state’s problems … and I’ll deal with those issues.”
The full episode of “Newsmakers” will be posted online Friday and air at 10 a.m. Sunday on Fox Providence.
As Tim White first reported on WPRI.com, Rhode Island State Police Col. Brendan Doherty issued a stinging statement yesterday that took a sharp if indirect shot at his predecessor Steven Pare for opposing the Secure Communities program backed by Peter Kilmartin:
The state’s top cop is taking aim at his predecessor for opposing a controversial federal immigration program, a move he labeled “dangerous and irresponsible.”
Rhode Island State Police Col. Brendan Doherty released a statement Wednesday reaffirming his department’s commitment to working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when checking on the immigration status of a person charged with a crime.
The statement comes after Steven Pare, Providence’s new public safety commissioner – and Doherty’s predecessor as head of the state police – first told Eyewitness News he had asked the federal government if the city can opt out of the “Secure Communities” program.
The initiative would send the fingerprints of someone charged with a crime to the federal government to check whether they are subject to deportation. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin signed an agreement for Rhode Island to use Secure Communities last month.
In addition, Pare has ordered his officers to stop using an electronic ICE database to check a person’s status who has been arrested, according to a memo obtained Monday exclusively by Target 12. The memo said the department will instead fax daily “arraignment sheets” to ICE.
Governor Chafee said last month he had not decided what his policy would be regarding Secure Communities. This morning his spokesman Mike Trainor made clear to me the administration had no idea Doherty was planning to issue such a biting statement about the program.
“I can confirm that the governor’s office had not received any notification that Colonel Doherty was going to issue that release,” Trainor said. “The governor will have nothing to say until he has a chance to discuss this with Colonel Doherty.”
Doherty was close to former Gov. Donald Carcieri, who appointed him in 2007 to replace Pare. Chafee opted to retain Doherty at the state police’s leader upon taking office, and the Senate reconfirmed him without objection last week.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has become the latest local politician to give away a campaign contribution tied to this week’s federal Navy kickbacks case.
Kilmartin received a $200 donation on Nov. 2 – Election Day – from an associate of Ralph Mariano, one of the defendants. The associate was mentioned in the indictment but not charged in the kickback scheme.
The Relief Society is a private nonprofit organization founded in 1904 which offers financial, educational and other assistance to members of the Navy and their families.
Kilmartin’s office has not been involved in the kickbacks case, which is a federal investigation being prosecuted by the office of U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha.
Claire Peracchio is a student at Brown University and The Brown Daily Herald’s city and state editor. This semester, she’s also an intern here at WPRI.com who will be contributing reporting and posts to Nesi’s Notes. Here’s her first piece. Give her a warm welcome. -TN.
By Claire Peracchio
Want to know what Rhode Island’s five general officers are up to – in 140 characters or less?
As candidates, the top officials used Twitter to promote their policy ideas, advertise campaign events and rally supporters. And after taking office, four out of five are still using the site.
The lone Twitter abstainer? Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Chafee was an active tweeter during his campaign but sent out his last tweet roughly two weeks after getting elected. His spokesman Mike Trainor confirms the governor is not tweeting in office.
Some of the other tweeters’ handles have changed since the campaign – here’s how to find them:
Roberts “usually tweets a few times a week,” according to her spokeswoman Maria Tocco.
Raimondo also plans to send out regular Twitter missives.
“She looks forward to tweeting frequently about how to tackle the state’s pension problems (among other Treasury topics) in 140 characters or less,” Raimondo spokeswoman Joy Fox quipped in an e-mail – though at this writing there was no tweet yet from Raimondo about the SEC investigation she disclosed today.
But the general officers aren’t the only ones on Twitter.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has also been sending his share of characters, snow-themed of late. He even used the recent snowstorm to recommend a trip to Providence.
“Take that snow day and come to Providence! There’s lots to do with kids to burn off that cabin fever!” Taveras tweeted on Jan. 27.
Claire Peracchio is a student at Brown University and an intern at WPRI.com.
Update: Raimondo slyly tweeted about the SEC investigation late yesterday afternoon:
Connecticut’s new governor, Dannel Malloy, is the first Nutmeg State leader in more than 15 years to oppose the death penalty. Advocates are hoping he’ll sign legislation to abolish the practice before too long; his predecessor, Jodi Rell, vetoed a repeal bill less than two years ago.
Rhode Island officially banned the death penalty in 1984, but the state hasn’t actually executed anyone since 1845, a decade and a half before the Civil War began.
That was the year an Irish immigrant named John Gordon was hanged for allegedly murdering Amasa Sprague, brother of one Rhode Island governor and father of another. To this day, questions remain about Gordon’s guilt considering the climate in which he was convicted, as WRNI’s Scott MacKay reported in 2008:
The [Gordon] trial came at a time in the state of anti-immigrant hysteria against Irish Roman Catholics, the first group to immigrate here in large numbers and threaten the hegemony of the Yankee Protestants that ran Rhode Island as their duchy. …
Every time there was a serious attempt at the State House to bring the death penalty back to the state — the last was in the 1990s by then-Rep. Antonio Pires, D-Pawtucket — Gordon’s trial is invoked and measures to reinstitute capital punishment are defeated. …
John Gordon walked to the gallows from his cell at the state prison, which in those days was located in Providence, where the Providence Place mall now stands. Sixty community notables attended the hanging, along with another 1,000 or so people — [URI Professor Scott] Molloy says they were most likely Irish immigrants — who stood on the outskirts of the prison but were too far way to see the gallows, which were in the jail courtyard.
The Rev. John Brady, a Catholic priest, shocked the elite observers by saying to Gordon before the hanging: “Have courage, John. You are going to appear before a just and merciful judge. You are going to join myriads of your countrymen, who, like you, were sacrificed to the shrine of bigotry and prejudice.”
The General Assembly abolished the death penalty seven years later, making Rhode Island a pioneer in doing so along with Michigan and Wisconsin, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens noted recently.
Capital punishment was legalized again in 1872, and remained the law of the land until a 1979 Rhode Island Supreme Court decision declared it unconstitutional; lawmakers abolished the death penalty once more five years later.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee opposes capital punishment, but Peter Kilmartin, the state’s new attorney general, told The Providence Journal last year he is in favor of reinstating it for some offenses.
“I support the death penalty but only for particularly heinous crimes such as the intentional killing of a police officer, murder in the first degree with an aggravating factor such as torture or mutilation, and 1st degree sexual assault with an aggravating factor,” Kilmartin said. “In addition, the death penalty should not be automatic. It should only happen after a finding of guilt and an evidentiary hearing seeking the death penalty.”
You can be sure the ghost of John Gordon would loom large in any renewed debate over legalizing executions in Rhode Island. As an aside, former Cranston resident Ken Dooley has written a play about the Gordon trial that’s being put on through Feb. 27 at the city’s Park Theatre.
Attorney General-elect Peter Kilmartin was a guest at this morning’s taping of WPRI 12′s “Newsmakers” with Tim White, WRNI’s Ian Donnis and yours truly. I brought up Kilmartin’s proposal during the campaign for Rhode Island to hold a constitutional convention in 2012, and asked why he thought that would be a good idea.
“I believe government and the constitution is a living, breathing document,” Kilmartin replied. “And to grow as a living document – just like all of us as living beings, we need to grow, we need to change, we need to adapt. And there is nothing wrong with having a convention to look at the constitution of the State of Rhode Island.”
Pressed on a specific constitutional change he would want examined by the convention, Kilmartin – who has been a state representative since 1991 – mentioned turning the General Assembly into a full-time legislative body.
“Now I know the general public would probably vote that down [but] I really think it needs a good vetting,” he said. “I know the hours [lawmakers work] – they always say it’s a part-time legislature, but I know the hours I put in, and believe me, they weren’t part-time. Those folks work very hard.”
Rhode Island’s last constitutional convention took place in 1986, when one of its marquee changes was the establishment of the now-neutered Ethics Commission.
The state constitution requires that every 10 years voters get asked whether they want to hold a constitutional convention, although the General Assembly can try to call one without waiting a decade. The last time voters got asked was in 2004, when they rejected it 48%-52%. So that means the question has to be put on the ballot again by 2014.
Tim led off the show by asking Kilmartin about illegal immigration – specifically, his take on Gov. Don Carcieri’s 2008 executive order and his support for the federal Secure Communities program. I wrote up his comments for a new WPRI.com story – here’s an excerpt:
Attorney General-elect Peter Kilmartin said Friday he opposes Gov.-elect Lincoln Chafee’s plan to rescind outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri’s controversial March 2008 executive order on illegal immigration.
“I think it should be maintained – there’s no harm in it,” he said during a taping of WPRI 12′s “Newsmakers.” “It makes a statement that law enforcement is to participate and work with other agencies.” …
Kilmartin also said his decision to join a controversial federal program that checks the immigration status of people who get arrested “is not much different than what occurs now.”
Kilmartin also played to the crowd by telling the three of us he supports a state shield law for reporters. Ian Donnis has more about that on WRNI’s website.
The entire half-hour episode of “Newsmakers” with Kilmartin – plus Gary Sasse and Common Cause’s John Marion talking about their Citizens for an Accountable Legislature project – will be posted online later today and will air on TV at 5:30 a.m. Sunday on both WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. (Yep, football is still taking our regular time slot – set your DVRs.)
My pal and patron Tim White has a terrific story up on WPRI.com about the new Moderate Party, which did reasonably well in Tuesday’s elections – particularly AG candidate Chris Little, who cracked double-digits and made Peter Kilmartin a little nervous – but left more than a few observers wondering why its popular chairman wasn’t more visible this fall. Here’s an excerpt:
When Moderate Party founder Ken Block needed a famous name to top his fledgling party’s ticket on this year’s election ballot, he turned to former Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Robert C. Corrente.
In a state where people think corruption is commonplace, Corrente was a high-profile crime fighter who helped bring down some big crooks and scare the heck out of legislators on Smith Hill – think “Operation Dollar Bill.”
In the end, though, it was not to be – Corrente declined Block’s offer to be the Moderate candidate for governor. But he did take over as the party’s chairman so Block himself could run instead.
It sounded like a clever strategy – the Moderates would have a well-known and respected public figure to stump for its candidates but wouldn’t saddle him with the baggage that comes with running for office.
But Corrente was a ghost on the campaign trail, according to Eyewitness News Political Analyst Joe Fleming.
As the saying goes, read the whole thing.
The big headlines from our new WPRI 12 poll last week were Frank Caprio’s seven-point drop, which put Lincoln Chafee in the lead for governor, and John Loughlin’s rapid gain on David Cicilline in the space of a month. But there were other interesting nuggets buried in the poll’s crosstabs – here are a few that stuck out to me.
• Is Lincoln Chafee the Democrat in the governor’s race? Looking at the coalition he’s put together, you could make the case. Chafee is either winning or nearly tied with Frank Caprio among some of the Democratic Party’s core consistencies.
Chafee is winning 52% of union households to Caprio’s 22%. The pair are tied among women at 29%, and statistically tied among younger voters (ages 18 to 39), with Chafee at 35% and Caprio at 34%. Among registered Democrats, Caprio’s lead over Chafee is just four points, 45%-41%. In the Democratic-leaning 1st District, Chafee leads Caprio 33%-27%.
The problem for Caprio is he hasn’t made up for that with new support elsewhere – Chafee leads him among men, 37%-23%; independents, 34%-13%; and seniors, 31%-28%. Among Republicans, Caprio only leads Chafee by one point, 12%-11%, while John Robitaille has 67%.
• Who’s persuadable at this point in the governor’s race? Only a few groups still have a double-digit number of undecided voters: independents, 17%; women, 14%; people ages 40 to 59, 14%; and 2nd District residents, 12%. They are taking their time, too – the number of undecideds in those groups was not statistically different from our previous poll a month earlier.
• Moderate Party founder Ken Block gets his strongest support from independents, at 7%. He’s also polling at 6% – two points above his overall rating – among men, younger voters, and Republicans.
• Unlike Caprio, David Cicilline is hanging on to traditional Democratic supporters, which is helping him keep a six-point lead over John Loughlin. Cicilline is winning women, seniors, and union members. But independents have deserted him over the past month, giving Loughlin 58% to Cicilline’s 28% – a 24-point gain for Loughlin and a 10-point loss for Cicilline, with 14% still undecided.
• Will Bob Venturini be our own Ralph Nader? Elizabeth Roberts should thank her lucky stars that the Pawtucket cable TV fixture is still in the lieutenant governor’s race – if his 5% support were added to Bob Healey’s 35%, the lieutenant governor’s race would be a statistical tie. It’s also a tad surprising that Healey is only winning 50% of Republicans – did they not get the message when Heidi Rogers dropped out? Or do they dislike the message?
• We also found 16% of likely voters still unsure who to support in the lieutenant governor’s race. With Roberts at 42% and Healey at 35%, which way those undecideds break could decide the outcome. Democrats have rallied to Roberts, but 22% of independents and 18% of Republicans still haven’t made up their minds.
• Ken Block’s fellow Moderate, attorney general candidate Chris Little, is doing far better than his party’s founder, polling at 12% in a five-man field. Little is winning 16% of middle-aged voters, 15% of independents and 13% of men. That may help explain why front-runner Peter Kilmartin, a Democrat, has trained his fire on Little in addition to Republican Erik Wallin.
• Congressman Jim Langevin does best among younger voters – those aged 18 to 39 – at 65%. The older you are, the less you like Langevin – he gets 55% of those ages 40 to 59 and 49% of those ages 60 and older. Langevin also has 23% of Republicans.
• The campaign to change Rhode Island’s formal name by deleting “and Providence Plantations” has gotten very little traction, with just 16% of voters saying they will approve the switch.
• Caprio is winning 14% of voters who say his association with “old-style politics” will prevent them from voting for him. Chafee is winning 8% of voters who say his sales tax proposal will, again, prevent them from voting for him. Yet Robitaille is only winning 1% of voters who say his service in the Carcieri administration will prevent them from voting for him. Weird.
A special edition of “Newsmakers” this week features a 60-minute, commercial-free debate between the Democrats running for attorney general in the Sept. 14 primary – Smithfield Town Councilman Steve Archambault, former Providence city solicitor Joe Fernandez and state Rep. Peter Kilmartin of Pawtucket.
Here’s panelist Ian Donnis’ preview of the debate, which comes less than two weeks before the primary election:
I won’t try to encapsulate the discussion here, but the topics include: the candidates’ commercials and their records; their ideas on fighting public corruption; whether they support the appeal of the PUC’s Deepwater decision to the state Supreme Court; whether they think Dean Esserman should continue as Providence’s police chief; whether former police officers can be tough on police officers who break the law; how they grade Patrick Lynch’s tenure as AG; and much more.
It’s quite a combative exchange, that’s for sure – and you can watch the whole thing right here on WPRI.com. On television, the debate is airing as I write this (2:30 p.m. Saturday) on Fox Providence and in prime time tonight on WPRI 12 at 8 p.m. Even Winston Churchill makes a cameo!
And in case you missed it, you can still watch last week’s “Newsmakers” debate between the two Democrats running for lieutenant governor, Elizabeth Roberts, the incumbent, and Jeremy Kapstein, a Boston Red Sox executive. Eyewitness News has more debates planned between now and the Sept. 14 primary, as well as ahead of the Nov. 2 general election, so I will keep you posted.