Frank Caprio: Making Up Stories About a Friend to Win a Primary
… the friend being Don Carcieri.
In fact, the friendship between the Governor and the General Treasurer was the impetus for one of the rare instances in which the Governor deliberately opened himself up to criticism from his own party: it was an open secret that during the last election, Governor Carcieri favored Frank Caprio for General Treasurer over the Republican candidate. Those of us determined (or compelled) to find a silver lining recognized this as a manifestation, albeit momentarily irksome, of the Governor’s pronounced loyalty streak.
Against this backdrop do we read, courtesy the ProJo’s Ed Fitzpatrick, about one particular facet of Frank Caprio’s efforts to pump up his left-wing bona fides for the upcoming Democrat gubernatorial primary.
Caprio (an in-house lawyer at Cookson America when GOP Governor Carcieri ran the conglomerate in the 1990s) said, “We have an administration up at the State House that locks himself in the office, thinks they know it all, doesn’t listen to much. So, let’s change that.”
Jerzyk asked if he was talking about Carcieri. “Correct,” Caprio said.
Possibly Mr. Caprio was unaware that a member of the press was nearby at that moment with notebook open and ears flapping (which is to say, diligently doing his job). On the other hand, that explanation would only make the incident worse. (“I only say bad things about my friends behind their backs.”)
Personal disloyalty aside for a moment, the real killer is that the statement is simply not true! Far from locking himself in an office, Governor Carcieri has reached out so much during his tenure that it has earned him a good deal of criticism from those who, out of understandable frustration with the decades of putrid government that has emanated from one party, would prefer that the Executive Branch adopt a more confrontational style in tackling the state’s problems and those who are attempting to perpetuate them.
What the Governor did do, in the course of not locking himself in an office, is work very hard – in some cases, with marked success – to fix some of the state’s worst problems by creating a better business climate to engender jobs and grow the tax base; getting government spending under control; reining in generous social programs; addressing out of control public pension benefits that decades of unscrupulous politicians so glibly promised but did not see fit to fund.
What he did not do is back away from these goals despite protracted vilification from certain quarters. Hopefully, this is not what the General Treasurer was referencing with the phrase “not listening too much”; in point of fact, many would characterize this as standing on principle.
In light of the above remark, principle is a commodity that the General Treasurer appears at the moment to be somewhat lacking – the principle of loyalty, the principle of truth. The primary has presumably placed the General Treasurer under some political stress. Has this inadvertently revealed an aspect of his character? As Governor, would he abandon principle when experiencing other kinds of stress?