Bill Harsch For Attorney General: “It’s Time to Drive the Snakes Out of Rhode Island”
Legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland in the fifth century AD. On St. Patrick’s Day of this year, William Harsch drew upon that image to kick off his campaign for the office of Rhode Island Attorney General.
In his announcement, Mr. Harsch told a crowd numbering in the hundreds — including Governor Donald Carcieri, Senator Lincoln Chafee, and former Attorney General Arlene Violet — that he is running for Attorney General to serve the “hard-working, honorable, proud people of Rhode Island” who are shut out of a system where political insiders expect the people to “pay taxes, keep quiet and stay out of the public process”. He believes that Rhode Island needs an Attorney General who will prevent corruption and big-business monopolies from taking advantage of Rhode Island citizens “as they go about their daily tasks of providing for their families, paying taxes, making a living and making their communities better”.
Mr. Harsch called out the snakes he seeks to drive from Rhode Island — snakes that have the form of entrenched, self-serving interests — by name. First, he discussed the institutional snakes.
- Utilities — Mr. Harsch explained how Rhode Island’s small size makes certain portions of its economy vulnerable to large entities that seek to eliminate competition. Specifically, certain utility companies have become “effectively unchallenged and effectively unregulated monopolies” that have had “their abuses rewarded”. Mr. Harsch criticized the gas company for getting a 30% rate increase at the start of the heating season, then setting a record for shutting people off. He also warned that their profits have made them such “a fat and attractive takeover target” that Rhode Island is well on its way to being served by only a single, foreign-owned gas and electric utility.
- Beacon Mutual — Mr. Harsch explained that Beacon Mutual was intended to be the worker’s compensation insurer of last resort and intended to encourage insurance competition, but “with the help of the General Assembly, they turned themselves into an effective monopoly”. He decried Beacon Mutual’s “egregious” profits, taken from “the profits and the pockets of every single business in the state, including small business” and questioned their practice of fighting against taxpayer interests using taxpayer money. Mr. Harsch also noted that the current Attorney General is “nowhere to be seen in that particular fight”.
- Blue Cross — According to Mr. Harsch, Blue Cross has been allowed to exert “a stranglehold on the healthcare market in this state”. He believes that health maintenance organizations (HMOs) need to be returned to their basic mission and become something different from what they have now become — monopolies “loaded with political friends who are doing good things for other political friends and being protected and encouraged by our General Assembly”– and that Rhode Island legislators have corrupted “something that was a very good idea” by using anti-competitive standards and requirements that discourage other insurers from entering Rhode Island’s healthcare market. As an example of this, Mr. Harsch cited laws requiring all insurers to cover — and all insurees to pay for — fertility treatments of any kind, something he believes should “be the election of an individual” and not “imposed on the public by action of the General Assembly”.
- The departed and discredited former president of Blue Cross who received a $600,000 “divorce present” from the company.
- The Roger Williams Hospital board member hospital who received a $500,000 payment while overseeing a hospital President caught abusing expense accounts.
- Former Senators John Celona and William Irons.
- “What about the fire officials in West Warwick?”
Coming later today: How Bill Harsch plans to drive the snakes away…