Thanks to the indefatigable John Vitkevich, of Portsmouth, for pursuing information about Governor Gina Raimondo’s blue campaign signs, posted at taxpayer expense under the pretense of providing transparency as to the progress of RhodeWorks progress. As Kathy Gregg reports in the Providence Journal, it has taken action by the attorney general’s office to make the governor be transparent about the signs:*
Of DOT’s unwillingness to identify the state account that paid for the signs, Special Assistant Attorney General Sean Lyness wrote: “We confess some unease. The DOT has consistently indicated that it maintains no documents responsive to this request… Nonetheless, there is some cost to the State of Rhode Island for these signs and it is axiomatic that this cost – assuming it is paid with State funds – must come from some budget line item(s).”
After finding DOT, in fact, had “an Excel spreadsheet of the costs″ for the signs, Lyness wrote: “Under the DOT’s interpretation, this running tally of signage costs could be withheld as a ‘draft’ indefinitely. This interpretation contravenes the definition of the term ‘draft,’ which contemplates an eventual completed document.”
The Raimondo administration’s arguments are audacious and insulting, with the insinuation that the state government could develop an entire program and pay for it without ever producing a document that the public has a right to see. The hope, one presumes, is to make “citizen-critics” like Vitkevich just go away. We need more people who just won’t.
* Obviously, this assumes that the Raimondo administration doesn’t attempt to defy the AG’s ruling.