AG Lynch: Preview of Gov. Lynch?

Edward Achorn has a column in today’s ProJo denouncing state Attorney General Patrick Lynch for his confusing and specious written justification for not prosecuting Cranston Firefighter Union head Paul Valletta for threatening Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey at a City Council meeting in August. The incident is on tape and no reasonable person would argue that Valletta was not threatening Mayor Laffey. However, Lynch’s office disagrees, according to Achorn:

In a strange 11-page document, Mr. Lynch’s office twisted itself in knots arguing that the law did not apply to this case. Among the reasons: Mr. Laffey did not display sufficient fear; the City Council has met since Aug. 23 without incident; Mayor Laffey has “by all accounts, maintained a full public schedule, including an active political campaign for his re-election.” Thus, “While his conduct was certainly disruptive, Valletta’s words at that point can not be factually considered as ‘true threats.’ ” The A.G.’s office recommended prosecution of Mr. Valletta on a misdemeanor charge, for “disruptive activity,” rather than for making a threat.

In essence, Mr. Lynch, in a highly subjective ruling, nullified the law on making threats. But is Mr. Lynch truly fit to be the final word, to be judge and jury?

Good question and there are reasons other than this that should give all Rhode Islanders pause when considering the veracity of Lynch. As Achorn writes:

After all, Mr. Lynch is a Democratic politician, brother of the state party chairman. Since the spring, Patrick Lynch has received $450 from the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters, run by labor boss Frank Montanaro. Such labor contributions are the lifeblood of Rhode Island Democrats — a big reason they narrowly won a number of close legislative races on Nov. 2. They are key to Mr. Lynch’s future in politics…

He found nothing amiss with government officials in West Warwick, and helped fight to keep basic information out of the public’s hands, after the Station fire claimed 100 lives. He displayed brazen disregard for the First Amendment in seeking criminal action against The Journal for publishing a photo from its own files. He found nothing actionable when a powerful Democratic legislator, Rene Menard, urged police to commit a crime and erase from a public log the name of a Massachusetts official…

Many thinking people cannot help but conclude that there are two sets of laws in Rhode Island: One for friends of the politically powerful, and another for those who dare challenge the political orthodoxy. That is a fair description of a lawless society, which can ultimately do nothing but terrible harm to the people of Rhode Island.

As a result of the AG’s recommendation, the Cranston police charged Valetta with a misdemeanor. Never one to take things lying down, Mayor Laffey said his piece:

Angered by the attorney general’s response, Laffey last week called it “a political decision”

“This is why Rhode Island is such a sick political state,” Laffey said at a news conference. “You have public officials making decisions based on who their political buddies are.”

Looking forward, it’s obvious to me that Patrick Lynch has his eyes on the Governor’s office and that he is not above doing “business as usual” to sit in that seat. Let this serve as an early warning that Lynch, as a governor, would be beholden to the very same interests that have put this state in the governmental quagmire from which Governor Carcieri is trying to free it.

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