Whistle-blower Retaliation by Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse - February 7, 2000 - Operation Clean Government is calling upon Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse to immediately drop his lawsuit against three whistleblowers in the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). That the Attorney General of a state with a long and tortured history of corruption would even consider suing whistle-blowers is beyond rational comprehension. The actual filing of such a lawsuit is a dereliction of the duty of the Office of Attorney General to root out wrongdoing in the state government.
That the state employees in question were within their rights to report improper conduct by their superiors has already been decided. The Attorney General now seeks to reverse prior court decisions using technical arguments which ignore the fundamental court findings that upheld the charges of these employees against their superiors at DEM and sanctioned their actions to protect themselves and the public.
Can Mr. Whitehouse be blind to the fact that his present actions are likely to threaten and dissuade any state employee who may consider speaking out about government unwillingness to enforce its own regulations? Can he not understand that it is the proper role of an attorney general to encourage witnesses to come forward, rather than to aid in their intimidation?
With the filing of the lawsuit Attorney General Whitehouse sends a loud and clear message: do not try to right the wrongs you encounter on the job or the entire might of state government will descend upon you. The other clear message to potential whistle-blowers is that the RI Attorney General's office, the one hope for refuge in state government, is in truth a collaborator in retaliation and recrimination against honest citizens.
Gerald McCarthy stated in the Providence Journal that Whitehouse made an historic blunder in not appointing an independent counsel to investigate the killing of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr., a Providence cop accidently killed by police while he was attempting to address a problem outside a restaurant while in plain clothes. McCarthy said Whitehouse selected a 9 member investigative team to assist the grand jury when 6 of the 9 are members of the Providence Police Department and a seventh is a brother of a member of the department.
The so-called Witness Protection Act which A.G. Whitehouse was pushing through the General Assembly was seriously flawed. It offered witnesses no significantly greater protection, while threatening to make secret how witness-protection programs are run - and how the taxpayer's dollars are being spent. When all was said and done, the result was that anyone who blows the whistle on how Whitehouse or some other A.G. is running the witness protection program runs the risk of being branded a felon and sent to jail.
2-6-06 Sara M. Quinn asserts the following wrongdoing regarding Sheldon Whitehouse who is running for Senate:
His inaction as attorney general and failure to prosecute Robert Urciuoli on fraud charges for Mr. Urciuoli's highly questionable expenses as president of Roger Williams Medical Center. This helped to encourage the hubris that became the pharmacy-choice scandal. Despite an internal review commissioned by Roger Williams in the late 1990s that discovered thousands of dollars of inappropriate expenses and interest-free loans, revealing a consistent pattern of corrupt behavior, Attorney General Whitehouse did nothing. He failed to prosecute Mr. Urciuoli.
As attorney general, Mr. Whitehouse did absolutely nothing to investigate the ills of the state traffic court, and they were many. In fact, Operation Clean Government ran a full-page ad in The Journal on March 27, 1999, asking anyone with information about the "lost $39 million" to bring evidence to members of OCG, which they would turn over to proper law-enforcement officers. Why was OCG, a grassroots citizen group, spearheading such an investigation instead of Attorney General Whitehouse? Operation Clean Government is still waiting for the answer to the $39 million question: Where did all the money go?
During Mr. Whitehouse's watch as attorney general, Providence Mayor Vincent Cianci was felled by the Plunder Dome prosecution conducted by the U.S. attorney's office in Providence. I note there was no such corruption prosecution while Mr. Whitehouse was U.S. attorney for Rhode Island.
I have observed and studied the cycles of corruption in this state for more than two decades. I am never surprised, but always saddened, by the penny-ante nature of those who would sell their stewardship for what ultimately seems to be such chump change. [Sara M. Quinn lives in Narragansett. She is a public interest lawyer and former executive director of the former Rhode Island Conflict of Interest Commission, former member of the Governor's Ethics Task Force under Gov. Bruce Sundlun, former director of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, and former legal counsel and board member for Operation Clean Government, and still a member of that organization.]
Bravo to Sheldon Whitehouse for brilliantly masking his dismal record as Rhode Island attorney general. By running a hollow campaign that seems to stress very little other than the "D" that follows his name, he clearly hopes to disguise the fact that his legacy and that of his party is one of cronyism and neglect. Savvier Rhode Islanders who are not deluded by patriotic music and vague advertisements will hopefully remember that Mr. Whitehouse's "friends" are people like John Harwood and Bob Urucioli [see complaint six below], not the average Rhode Islanders that he purportedly cares about.
We have not forgotten that under Attorney General Whitehouse, Buddy Cianci reigned, the General Assembly operated unchecked, and open government was nonexistent. Rhode Islanders don't forget about then-Attorney General Whitehouse's inept handling of tragedies like the Cornel Young shooting and the murder of Jennifer Rivera.
Hopefully no amount of saccharine advertising will be able to fool those of us who remember Mr. Whitehouse's disastrous years as a public servant who frequently forgot about the public good. Rhode Island deserves better than a candidate for U.S. Senate that is running as little more than the letter "D." - Kevin McDonald
Whitehouse tacitly acknowledged during a debate that he never subpoenaed witnesses, took sworn statements or convened a grand jury to try to get to the truth of the allegations of wrong-doing by Roger Williams Medical Center president Robert Urciuoli. The doctors at the hospital brought him evidence of wrongdoing 1999. Urciuoli was convicted last week in federal court of charges stemming from his role in an influence-peddling scandal involving camouflaged payments to former state Sen. John Celona.
Said Governor Lincoln Chafee:
"Mr. Whitehouse never successfully prosecuted a single political figure;" even when told of corruption at Roger Williams, He did nothing."