If “Misinformation” is the New Standard, Rhode Island’s General Treasurer Must Step Down Immediately

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This morning on the WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti – link to audio – General Treasurer Seth Magaziner elaborated on his call for Rhode Island Representative Justin Price to resign from the House of Representatives for spreading misinformation, saying

When elected officials use their platforms to spread (mis)information, to spread lies, they have to be called out for it.”

And

…as elected officials, we should be held to a higher standard …

Interesting.  Alright, check out this analysis from August, 2018 by Mike Riley.

In assessing the effort to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island, it is important to review the role of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. The state treasurer was asked to analyze the costs and opine on affordability, as would be expected with a large borrowing like this. Mr. Magaziner opined in October 2017 and in June 2018 as numbers changed along with the terms of the deal and then opined again recently, finally giving a nod to the deal.

But what everyone needs to know is that $350 million dollars in debt for Pawtucket’s other post-employment benefits (OPEB) for former employees was not used in his analysis. This is more than twice the city’s pension debt! In fact, it was purposely left out by Magaziner. Including OPEB debt would obviously have made the City of Pawtucket’s borrowing look dangerous and ill-conceived. …  This $350 million is so significant and overwhelming, it would be irresponsible for any treasurer to think Pawtucket absorbing new debt was a good idea.

Well, that’s an eye-opener.  Nice work by Mike Riley catching that serious piece of misinformation by General Treasurer Magaziner.  Ultimately, the PawSox left Rhode Island and these ill-conceived, unaffordable bonds were never issued.  But that was very much despite this substantive misinformation that Treasurer Magaziner issued about Pawtucket’s financial condition.

Now, it is absurd to call on an elected official to step down due to a statement of misinformation; in part, because it falls into a broader category of free speech and, in part, because about three quarters of all elected officials in the country would instantly have to step down.  (I heard that; stop cheering!). 

But that is the position of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. 

I do agree with him when he says, as he did this morning, that “As Americans, we all have a duty to speak up when we see people in positions of authority spreading misinformation” and that elected officials “should use our platforms responsibly”.  Via this post, accordingly, I am fulfilling that duty.  Specifically, I am calling out Mr. Magaziner for a piece of misinformation that is especially egregious because he communicated it in his capacity as the state’s General Treasurer in an analysis about a major financial decision facing a municipality and the state.

Clearly, Mr. Magaziner did not use his platform as General Treasurer responsibly by including misinformation in this important analysis. Now, I myself am not calling on him to resign as the state’s General Treasurer for this. But by his own standard, he must do so immediately. Referring once again to Mr. Magaziner’s own words on WPRO this morning, elected officials have a duty to tell people the truth, to be honest. He failed notably to do so.



  • Mario

    I hope the General Treasure’s recommendation doesn’t lead to an outbreak of violence at the statehouse and an attempt to assassinate public officials and overthrow the state constitution. Magaziner is clearly playing with fire.

    • Portia

      If we must indulge in “whataboutisms,” could we at least do apples-to-apples comparisons? There is a huge difference between not mentioning a particular piece of information on radio broadcast on a complex subject, and inciting insurrection and violent overturn of a valid election.

      • Mario

        This was sarcasm.

        • Portia

          I know! We have to work through the “whatabout” phase. When that doesn’t work, Justin will start mewling “can’t we all just get along?”

          • Lou

            Speaking of Justin, it’s been 5 days since the failed coup and nothing from Justin. I understand it’s a tough decision whether to support the ANTIFA lie (promulgated on this website) or to support the rioters, but let’s make a decision, Justin!

          • Portia

            Nah. It’s going to be Hilary and Obama’s machinations or incompetence, or both, that caused the coup.

          • Lou

            LOL! He already blamed Obama (“The outgoing administration worked to sow the seeds of an attempted coup that played out for years in what ought to be seen as the biggest political scandal in American history.”). But then again, blaming Obama is like the free center spot in Tea Party bingo!

          • Portia

            I submit to you that a kind of reverse Godwin’s Law comes into play here: the longer a discussion on Ocean State Current continues, the greater the likelihood Obama or Hillary will get blamed.

          • Lou

            On second thought, a discussion on Ocean State Current doesn’t have to go very long before Obama or Hillary will get blamed.

          • Portia

            New drinking game: every time Justin suggests that Gina is plotting a leftist takeover, we have to do a shot of Jaegermeister.

          • Lou

            Gina is a dictator=drink
            “Progressive”=drink
            “Venezuela”=drink
            “restricting our freedoms”=drink
            “left-wing” fascism-drink
            “political elite” (which apparently does not include recalled town councilors)=drink

          • Portia

            “Wealth redistribution” = drink
            “Culture war” = drink
            “Socialized medicine” = drink
            “Free market principles” = drink
            “Tyranny” = drink
            “Mainstream media”= drink

  • Lou

    I’m sure General Treasurer Seth Magaziner is staring at his newly drafted resignation letter and deciding whether to sign it after you “called him out” after citing failed opponent Mike Riley’s blog post criticizing him from 2018.

    It probably would have been helpful if Mike actually posted a link to what he was criticizing. In any event, the impact on Pawtucket’s debt was irrelevant as long as the State was expected to back the bonds.

  • ShannonEntropy

    What Seth did is more accurately described as a “Lie of Ommision”

    … but making politicians resign for “spreading misinformation” is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indianapolis 500

    • Lou

      You might be right, Shanny. But Justin has made a career out of lying by omission and we don’t hear a peep out of you. Do you know what a double-standard is?

      • ShannonEntropy

        Can you give an example ??

        • Justin Katz

          Don’t doubt that he’ll come up with something, Shannon. To the likes of Lou, simple disagreement is always some kind of lie. If the news media reported a mob of conservatives charging down the street in a dangerous way, you’d call it a lie of omission that journalists didn’t report that they started doing so because a progressive was firing a machine gun over their heads. Lou would call it a lie of omission that you didn’t go out of your way to mention that the gunman had a “peace” sticker on his helmet.

          • Monique Chartier

            Lol!

          • Lou

            Sounds like your kind of “reporting”, Justin. Are you looking to hire?

    • Monique Chartier

      Great analogy, SE. That’s the point. By the General Treasurer’s standard, if Rep Price should resign, so should three quarters of all politicians. And Rhode Island’s General Treasurer should be the first to do so – doubly so because he spread FINANCIAL misinformation in his official capacity as the state’s GENERAL TREASURER.