Setting Up Political Operatives

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I’ve expressed skepticism that the state Ethics Commission will see a violation in Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s hiring of a member of the Providence Democratic City Committee and subsequent campaign agreement with that council.  In general, the commission has held the view that corruption only exists in the private sector.  Maybe a political committee will count as a private sector organization under its taxonomy, but I doubt it.

Abstruse government rules aside, the agreement, which Raimondo released on the Sunday of a three-day weekend, looks really bad, mostly because of this part:

No later than January 31, 2018, the Committee will authorize Patrick Ward (“Ward”) to open the following three accounts (collectively, the “Accounts”)…

The Committee agrees that Ward shall have exclusive and plenary authority to spend, transfer, and otherwise disburse funds from the Accounts for any lawful purpose… and shall be the only signatory on the Accounts…, except that Ward may designate any other persons of his choosing to also exercise these powers.  No other person’s approval will be required to authorize the spending, transfer, or disbursement of funds from the Accounts.

So, the agreement doesn’t leave the money in the control of the “committee president,” or any other such language that would give the committee as a whole ultimate control.  It gives control to somebody to whom the governor recently gave a $71,608, in company with his wife’s job in the administration.

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The governor insists that the agreement doesn’t establish any “master and servant” relationship, but it gives the committee as a body no control outside of one of the governor’s employees.  Let’s just say that doesn’t look very good or ethical.



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