Let’s clarify some things for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, shall we, and then explain to him where his political career currently stands.
It is not “his house”, as many have correctly pointed out, it is the people’s house. He does not pay the salaries of his staff, including specifically the p.r. flak who, incredibly, laid a hand on NBC 10 reporter Bill Rappleye so as to silence and even eject him from the press conference. Rhode Island’s hard working taxpayers pay those salaries. All 240 of them.
It is, in fact, taxpayers, not Mr. Kilmartin, who pay for all of the resources of his office. Most importantly, the power of his office is not “his” power. It is power that comes from we, the people of Rhode Island, who devolved it to him in a lawful and democratic manner for one reason only: so that he could administer justice in an equal and impartial manner on our behalf.
We did not pass along the power of and resources to that office so that they could be used for the personal advantage or political advancement of the person who occupies the office. And we definitely did not do so in order that they could be abused to shield the occupant of the office from totally legitimate questions about actions that he took in an official capacity, whether current or prior.
Secondly. When Bill Rappleye or any of the other fine reporters in this state ask Mr. Kilmartin or another elected official a question, they are not doing so for their own idle amusement. They ask on behalf of the residents, taxpayers and voters of Rhode Island to whom Mr. Kilmartin and all state officials are accountable. Therefore, when Mr. Kilmartin moves to shut a reporter up, throw him/her out of a press conference or, in a stunningly juvenile manner, actually stop sharing official communication with the news outlet for whom the meddlesome reporter works – communication which, once again, DOES NOT BELONG to Mr. Kilmartin – he (Mr. Kilmartin) is not telling a reporter to shut up and butt out, he is telling every resident of this state to shut up and butt out.
In short, Mr. Kilmartin was way, way out of line Thursday and yesterday, in his conduct, attitude and motivation which has disturbingly been revealed as one of deep entitlement rather than public service.
The fallout from this inures largely to Mr. Kilmartin and it isn’t pretty. A talk show host on WPRO – I believe it was Dan Yorke – said that the incident made Mr. Kilmartin look thin-skinned. It did, in part. But much worse, Mr. Kilmartin looked as though he were stifling an inquiry about his own culpability in 38 Studios – and using the power and resources of “his” office to do so. His official actions throughout the aftermath of the 38 Studios debacle had been dubious, culminating most recently in a volte face from the-investigation-is-open-indefinitely-so-I-don’t-ever-have-to-tell-you-anything-because-we-may-reopen-the-case-even-though-we-absolutely-will-not-ha-ha-like-I-would-ever to the-investigation-is-closed-now-so-I’m-blocking-the-release-of-38-Studios-materials-from-the-Grand-Jury-criminal-inquiry-because-er-it-might-have-a-dampening-effect-on-the-Grand-Jury-process-yeah-that’s-the-ticket. The incident Thursday involving Bill Rappleye followed by Mr. Kilmartin (incredibly) removing NBC 10 from the press list cements the impression that Mr. Kilmartin is no longer allowing justice and the best interest of Rhode Island to guide his official actions – for sure when it comes to 38 Studios and, therefore, possibly with regard to other official matters.
Accordingly, Mr. Kilmartin’s tenure as Attorney General cannot end quickly enough (I suppose there’s no point in suggesting that he step down, though that would be best). And as images like this and this would almost certainly feature prominently in his opponent’s campaign, it is a good thing for the people of Rhode Island that Mr. Kilmartin’s chances of getting elected to future office have been considerably diminished as it is clear now that he has a distorted view as to what comprises public service – and what he should be trying to accomplish in “his” house.