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NEW: Rappleye, Schiller Caught Speculating Politicians’ Sexuality

Friday, January 03, 2014


WJAR reporter Bill Rappleye and Brown Professor of Politics Wendy Schiller were picked up on live mic Thursday speculating about the sexual orientation of RI elected officials.

In an episode reminiscent of the 2005 episode in which Guy Dufault and Mike Levesque were caught commenting on then-Governor Don Carcieri, the exchange between Schiller and Rappleye took place in the January 2 taping of "Political Notebook" -- and the videoclip that was up on the WJAR website, which had the conversation, has now been removed.

Prior to being pulled down, a Tumblr post by Stephen Miller transcribes the live-mic conversation that took place. Read Miller's transcript below.

Rappleye Confirms, Wades Into Twitter Debate

Rappleye tweeted at Miller, and Miles Grant, who originally posted the "Political Notebook" clip, about the incident, saying "Not so huge that reporter hears, shares rumors. Bad form to do it with microphone attached."

Neither Schiller nor WJAR News Director responded to request for comment.

Transcript of Miller's Tumblr Post

In his post, Miller wrote the following, entitled "WJAR-TV hosts speculate on sexual orientation of RI electeds -- and caught on camera". 

In the January 2, 2014, edition of “Political Notebook” uploaded to WJAR-TV’s website, the station’s Bill Rappleye and Brown University policy professor Wendy Schiller are caught on hot microphones with some pre-show banter, speculating about the sexual orientation of Providence mayor Angel Taveras and other Rhode Island elected officials.

Spotted by Miles Grant on Twitter
(beginning at 9:45 in the video file)

Bill Rappleye: “It was from a cop.”

Wendy Schiller: “A cop?”

Bill: “And he says one reason you might think it’s true is, you notice all the Cicilline holdovers — his drivers are still on the job. They’re discrete with the former mayor. They’re not going to [inaudible] —”

Wendy: “Yeah but nobody in Providence cares if he’s gay. Nobody in the state cares if he’s gay.”

Bill: “Yeah, but then why’d he get married?”

Wendy: “That was because old Catholic women do not like it if you have a kid out of wedlock and don’t marry the woman. That’s a different demographic.”

Bill: “Neither do I as a matter of fact. I don’t like that either.”

Wendy: “So that’s a different demographic. David Cicilline is gay. Nobody cared.”

Bill: “Right but —”

Wendy: “He was always gay though. I mean, and Gordon Fox was always gay — nobody ever tried to hide it, right?”

Bill: “Yeah but Gordon didn’t come out until the surprise at the state house one day, at the rally. Others have never come out.”

Wendy: “Avesi — It’s got to be Azunya (sic).” [ed: Scott Avedesian? Schiller was unclear here.]

Bill: “Steve Costantino, he never came out.”

Wendy: “Oh, I didn’t know he was gay.”

Bill: “Well, it’s accepted that he is. It’s called the Velvet Mafia up there.”

Note: I am not familiar enough with RI politics to identify who Wendy is referring to by “Azunya,” though the beginning of her comments indicate she is referring to Scott Avedesian. Help, anyone?

Update 2:57 PM ET: It appears WJAR has taken the video down.


Efforts to reach Schiller were unsuccessful. Lanni refused to comment due to storm commitments.


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No, Rappley, calling Fox, Costantino and company the "velvet mafia" is a bit more than bad form. You are either a total ahole or a serious closet case. Either way, only an idiot has that kind of conversation within 50 feet of a microphone or camera.

Comment #1 by Edward Smith on 2014 01 03

Tavares,Costantino,Avedesian,Alves,and other frequently bandied about names-really,is there any doubt.
Was there any doubt about Cicilline or Fox before they revealed themselves.
People have their reasons,usually familial,for not divuging their sexuality and their privacy should be respected.

On another note,for some insight as to Cicilline's activities in the DR for the past 30 yrs.go to Youtube and search: dr fadul congressman cicilline.2 videos,one in Spanish,but one does not have to understand Spanish to understand what Cicilline is accused of.

Your Congressman-hope all the brain dead RIers who voted for him feel properly chagrined.

Comment #2 by mark malachi on 2014 01 03

If any of that is true, Rappeleye should apologize profoundly to Mayor Tavares, and probably be fired. Him and Taricani are such old news anyways.

Comment #3 by George McDonald on 2014 01 03

Dan Yorke let is slip a few years ago on the radio about Avedesian. He didn't think it was a guarded secret though. Would it be totally out of the question for a politician to get married to give the impression of being a "regular" citizen to get votes? Governor Jim McGreevey did that a few year ago in New Jersey.

Comment #4 by David Beagle on 2014 01 03

Too funny!!

Comment #5 by lupe fiasco on 2014 01 03

All I see curiosity about the politicians sexual preferences. I don't see anything that, at least to me, would be offensive.

It would be better for the politicians to just "come-out" in my book. What consenting adults do with each other is no business of mine.

Governmental leaders lying or misleading the citizens for votes is wrong and the business of all of us.

Comment #6 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 01 03

A conversation has two participants. I see many comments about Rappelye, but what should happen to Ms. Schiller? She works for Brown, the bastion of Political Correctness. How do her remarks sit with her employer?

Comment #7 by Michael Trenn on 2014 01 03

Then there are the views held by many (no all) conservatives penned by former GOP hero, mayor Steve Laffey

In one column, Laffey said he has never seen a happy homosexual.
"This is not to say there aren't any; I simply haven't seen one in my lifetime. Maybe they are all in the closet," he wrote. "All the homosexuals I've seen are sickly and decrepit, their eyes devoid of life."

In another column he wrote that pop music was turning the children of America into sissies, and criticized the singer Boy George, referring to him as ...."it."

"It wears girl's clothes and puts on makeup," he wrote. "When I hear it sing, 'Do you really want to hurt me, do you really want to make me cry,' I say to myself, YES, I want to punch your lights out, pal, and break your ribs."
Happy New Year...Sammy

Comment #8 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 01 03

A video has surfaced in which the conservative "Duck Man" Phil Robertson offers more harsh comments about gays. In the video, Robertson says that Gay folks will receive the "due penalty for their perversions." He goes on to say that they are full of "murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, god-haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil."

But he is not judging them..... Remember that...LOL

Robertson is still "free" to go repeat himself on Fox News and all the other professional victim outlets that the righties are so enamored with. We all know how conservative rubes just love to play the victim card.

Comment #9 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 01 03

It seems sammy is free to spread his hate here nonstop.No big deal because maybe one or two people give damn what he says.Tavares gay?He's effeminate in his mannerisms but that is no barometer of being homosexual.Cicilline could screw dogs for all I care-his problem is being a miserable lying,dishonest little creep.I'm a little surprised at Wendy Schiller,being a prof at Brown and all that.She might have her faculty lounge pass suspended or something.It's kind of comical when liberals get caught being politically incorrect but it's a free country and they're certainly entitled to it.Nowadays the gossip element outweighs the serious issues and that's not funny at all.

Comment #10 by Joseph Bernstein on 2014 01 04

I wonder if Rappleye and Schiller are as curious about their fellow workers. Do they have the same curiousity about R.J. and Mario. Like the song says "Ain't nobody's business but my own"

Comment #11 by Eric Fleen on 2014 01 04

Why are we hearing about so many gays in politics in RI? Why is there so much media on gays?
Look at the time and effort put in by Fox to get what he wanted at the cost to all of RI. Instead of doing anything positive toward RI's economy, like planning or developing a vision to grown business that would employ people, pay taxes and get RI out of this death spiral, Fox spent over 50% of the GAs bandwidth on gay marriage. It's like RI politics is about anything other than the critical economic problems in RI. Then again, the voters seem to be OK with the RI attitude of who cares about anything.

Comment #12 by Gary Arnold on 2014 01 04

Rappleye and Schiller are Americans. They live in America. As legendary PD Boston Detective Joe McCain oft said, "This is America. In America, people are free to talk to anyone they choose about anything they like."

No one cares about the boudoir habits of anyone else. Do what you want, the rule has long been, just don't frighten the womenfolk and the livestock.

The private habits of the Velvet Mafia pale when compared to apparent losses to private liberty and wealth they've caused, to whih our family can well attest.

There's a larcenous cabal in the state which, in manner of syphilitic spirochetes, augered itself into the body politic, in order to use all necessary means to siphon the wealth and liberty from private citizens.

That's the real story here, the one the media prefers not to touch for fear of 'physical retribution', as has been stated by those familiar with this bunch and its peculiar talents.

Beyond that, it is not possible for people to 'get caught' exercising their First Amendment Rights. This is America, as Joe E. McCain said.

Comment #13 by paul zecchino on 2014 01 06

My name is Chris Young and I am a candidate for Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island. I put posts on this wall, why have they been deleted?

A link to testimony that goes to the accuracy of the issues claimed in this video has also been deleted.

This is the link that was posted accusing elected officials of criminal activity in the Dominican Republic that deserves an investigation.

I have attempted to aid in that investigation by research, please see the link referenced by Mark Malachi posted above https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wsweOni_tQ

Also, several articles have been posted by golocalprov that an investigation is underway.

Sen. Bob Menendez on Wednesday denied allegations that he saw prostitutes while on trips with a campaign donor to the Dominican Republic, responding to new questions after an overnight FBI raid on the donor's South Florida office.

Fox News confirms that FBI agents removed items from Dr. Salomon Melgen's West Palm Beach, Fla., business during a raid that lasted several hours. Agents could be seen rifling through items in the office and carrying boxes out of the building.

It is unclear whether the raid is related to anything involving Menendez. But Menendez' office issued a statement denying the prostitution claims, while acknowledging he flew on Melgen's plane on three occasions.

Menendez's office said the trips were "paid for and reported appropriately."

"Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false,” his office also said.

The Miami Herald reports that the investigation is believed to be focusing at least in part on Melgen's finances. Melgen, a top contributor to Menendez's federal campaigns, has an outstanding IRS lien of $11.1 million for taxes owed between 2006 and 2009, according to records obtained from the Palm Beach County recorder's office, the newspaper reported.

But allegations also have surfaced that Menendez, with the help of Melgen, saw prostitutes while in the Dominican Republic. Emails posted online last week appeared to show the FBI communicating with an individual claiming to know about Menendez's trips. That individual, who goes by the name of Peter Williams, confirmed to FoxNews.com that the email exchange "is totally authentic."

He provided another purported email exchange from last week with a Miami-based FBI agent. In the exchange, the FBI agent asked to meet Williams "away from the Dominican Republic" to discuss the situation.

The director of a Washington watchdog group that received messages from Williams earlier confirmed to FoxNews.com that the group handed over the emails to the FBI last year. The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, also publicly released those emails on Wednesday as well as its July 2012 letter to the FBI and Justice Department, in which CREW urged a probe into whether Menendez "engaged in sex tourism by engaging in illicit sexual acts with underage prostitutes."

The letter noted that CREW could not confirm the claims. CREW director Melanie Sloan, in an interview last week with FoxNews.com, also raised concerns about the credibility of the source, saying she is "increasingly suspicious" about the alleged facts in the case.

"He refused to ever be contacted by us by phone," she said. "It's really easy to make a lot of allegations. ... Who knows ... if that's even a real person."

The Daily Caller first reported in November that Menendez, D-N.J., allegedly had sexual relations with several prostitutes at Melgen's mansion in the Dominican Republic.

The senator's office has rejected the charges for months. A spokeswoman for Menendez told FoxNews.com last week that the emails were "unsubstantiated garbage."

Menendez, who joined the Senate in 2006, is becoming increasingly influential on Capitol Hill. He is poised to take over the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as outgoing chairman John Kerry becomes secretary of state. He also was part of a group of senators proposing a blueprint for immigration reform this week.

The FBI last week declined to comment on the release of the FBI emails.

Asked about the raid Tuesday night, the FBI Miami office would only say "we are conducting law enforcement in the general vicinity" of the office.

Representatives for Melgen and Menendez so far have not returned requests for comment Wednesday.

Fox News' Serafin Gomez and FoxNews.com's Judson Berger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NEW: Taveras’ Donor Tied to National Prostitution Scandal
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Tuesday, February 05, 2013
GoLocalProv News Team

A Florida doctor at the center of a nationwide controversy involving campaign contributions, prostitution and a U.S. Senator is also a max donor to one of Rhode Island’s largest political figures, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.
Dr. Salomon Melgen, an ophthalmologist from West Palm Beach, was accused this week with providing prostitutes and free trips to the Dominican Republic for New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez.

In an explosive ethics scandal that has led some to wonder whether or not Menendez will step down, Melgen’s office was reportedly raided last week by FBI agents and representatives from the Health and Human Services Department.

The controversy led to numerous media outlets digging into Melgen, a well-known political contributor who has reportedly given more than $426,000 in campaign contributions to various candidates over the past two decades.
One of those candidates is Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

In a campaign finance report from the Rhode Island Board of Elections, a donor by the name of Salomon E. Melgen donated the $1,000 maximum to Angel Taveras’ organization on June 29, 2010.

In the report, Melgen’s address is listed as 12096 Captains Landing, North Palm Beach, Florida and his employer is listed as Melgen Vitreo Retinal Eye Center, with an address of 2521 Metrocentre Blvd, West Palm Beach, Florida.

That address is still registered as belonging to the Melgen Vitreo Retinal Eye Center, whose website described Melgen as being in the practice for over 20 years and having treated “many well-respected individuals including Presidents, Governors, politicians, celebrities, and actors.”

“Many of Dr. Melgen’s patients travel far distances to see him because of his reputation and skill,” the site says. “He has developed a widely respected international reputation … Dr. Melgen has consistently contributed to charitable organizations and causes throughout his career. Dr. Melgen also advises domestic and foreign politicians on health issues, in attempt to improve community health care.”

The timing of Melgen’s 2010 donation to Taveras comes right in the middle of the alleged free trips offered to Menendez, who earlier this week referred to the doctor as a “friend and political supporter.”

According to reports, Menendez took three flights on Melgen’s jets in 2010, one in May of that year to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for political fundraisers that was paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

It was the two flights during August and September of that year that led to an inquiry by the Senate Ethics Commission last year, however.

The first, a flight from south Florida to the Dominican Republic and back, reportedly occurred from Aug. 6 to Aug. 9, 2010. The second, from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic and back, occurred from Sept. 3 to Sept. 6, roughly three months after the donation to the Taveras camp.

Melgen’s 2010 donation to Taveras was not the only time he contributed to the then mayoral candidate.

On September 9, 2000, a donor listed as Dr. Salomon Melgen, of the same address listed in 2010, reportedly gave the max $1,000 donation to the Angel Taveras’ for Congress Committee. Melgen also gave $1,000 donations that year to The Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate campaign and for Gore 2000 Inc.

Comment #14 by Chris Young on 2014 01 09

Taveras has a fake marriage. Take the DNA of the baby I would bet anything its not his either. Paying the fake wife to suit your political ambitions won't work Dictator Taveras. We all know about you. Just come out of the closet tell the truth and tell everyone you are GAY. No gay people should vote for the Dictator. He's been caught with his pants down many times. Just ask the police driver where he takes him.

Comment #15 by Jackson Teller on 2014 01 13

way I see it fox and ciccilini are bisexual, they must be because man or woman it doesn't matter. all bend over for them and take it. this is how its run at the state house.
we call it business as usual here
need proof?
how else do you explain being behind in the polls by double digits 2 days before an election and winning by a margin larger than the +- error margin, being behind? state police going to investigate? nope
the lovely deal the house made so that fox wouldn't be investigated for 38 studios....no bridge toll! oh wait, we cant do that because its a federally funded program we must charge a toll. oh ok lets do it! of course there is no such rule.

Comment #16 by steven richard on 2014 01 14


Comment #17 by Jackson Teller on 2014 01 17

Tavares and Menendez are also using the same fundraiser,I believe.

The State Police turned over the info.gathered by Gemma's private investigators about Cicilline's activities in the Dominican Republic to the Feds,but one has to wonder how thorough the investigation was in that regard.

The investigators,retired SP detectives,had in their employ one John Elliot,bro. of a SP Capt.,who was a coach in Pawt, and has been arrested for distributing child porn over the internet.
An accused child pornographer was involved in the investigation of an accused pedophile.Only in RI.

Comment #18 by mark malachi on 2014 01 19

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.