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What Will AG Candidates Do About Pension Abuse?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

 

Every candidate for Attorney General is weighing in after a GoLocalProv investigation found that former Johnston fire chief Victor Cipriano is earning more money from his disability pension that he did on the job—a violation of state law.

Each candidate is promising to crack down on pension abuse.

Democratic candidate Joe Fernandez called for the establishment of the first-ever State and Local Government Corruption Unit, which would investigate pension abuse as well as other forms of corruption.

“Taking on corruption at the municipal level is one of the key reasons why Joe is running for Attorney General,” said campaign manager Dan Herkert. “Corruption, in any form, is a hidden tax on Rhode Islanders, and it’s one of the factors holding back those who might want to start or expand a business in Rhode Island.”

As a city solicitor in Providence, Fernandez moved to revoke the pension of former police Chief Urbano Prignano, Jr., after he was forced to resign amid a scandal. 

Kilmartin Calls on Cities and Towns To Review Pensions

Democrat Peter Kilmartin called on all cities and towns to review all of their pensions to make sure they are in compliance with state law. If elected, he said he would create a Pension Review Office which would evaluate city and town pensions to make sure they followed the law.

“Any potential abuses should be brought to local or state police law enforcement for further investigation and violations brought to the Office of Attorney General for prosecution,” said Kilmartin, a retired Pawtucket police captain. “Pension abuse and violations of pension law are an affront to overburdened taxpayers and to all those who served and retired honorably,” he added.

Candidate Proposes 24-Hour Hotline for Tips on Corruption

Republican Erik Wallin would set up a public corruption task force that would have three prosecutors, a forensic auditor, and a 24-hour hotline for citizens with tips on pension fraud and other corruption anywhere in the state.

“We cannot afford the political insiders making sweet heart deals which literally line the pockets of their friends, family and politically connected with the money of hard working Rhode Islanders,” Wallin said.

“Pension fraud may very well place into jeopardy the solvency of pension funds creating a situation in which everyone's future benefits are at risk,” Wallin added.  “Furthermore, every tax payer is impacted should they be called upon to pay for unfunded portions of existing funds through property taxes or assessments.”

Two other candidates—Democrat Steve Archambault and Chris Little, of the Moderate Party—said that the Attorney General should work more closely with cities and towns to investigate pension abuse.

“I will proactively open up direct lines of communication with municipal retirement boards and the state retirement board as well as mayors, town administrators and municipal attorneys in order to aggressively seek information about any suspicious pension arrangements,” Archambault said. “I will prosecute pension fraud to the fullest extent of the law.”

Little said pension fraud was one reason the retirement system has become so costly—and the public so cynical. “Clearly, this is important – because it will protect and preserve taxpayers’ money, and because such action can help restore badly needed faith in government,” Little said.

‘Rhode Islanders are sick and tired’

Robert Rainville said his status as an independent candidate uniquely qualifies him to handle cases of corruption. He said he would hire as many investigators as possible—and would not wait for towns and cities to start their own investigations. 

“Rhode Islanders are sick and tired of one example after another of the same old stories of politically influenced pension abuse, and Attorney General Rainville will not tolerate that anymore,” Rainville said. “Pension abuse and any other form of public corruption are extremely serious issues that we as Rhode Islanders need to work on preventing.”

 

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