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Lynch unloads on gov's hiring of King

Bill Lynch was seemingly loaded for bear had Kerry King survived last year's GOP primary for lieutenant governor.

From a Democratic Party news release:

PAWTUCKET- Rhode Island Democratic Party chairman Bill Lynch expressed surprise and disappointment today after learning that Gov. Carcieri plans to dole out a high-paying State House job to a one-time GOP statewide candidate whose former company has a highly-questionable ethics past.

Carcieri has announced that he is appointing Kernan King, former GOP candidate for lt. governor, to be his new executive counsel. King, who ran as the “anti-corruption” candidate in the 2006 Republican primary election, is a former executive counsel, vice president and member of the executive committee and board of directors of The New England, also known as The New England Mutual Life Insurance Company, New England Life and New England Financial.

“Everything about this hiring stinks. The governor is reaching into the taxpayers’ wallets to pay back a Republican candidate whom he originally endorsed, and then dropped flat when someone better came along,” Lynch said.

King was originally embraced by Gov. Carcieri in his bid for lt. governor, but was then “left at the altar” when Ret. Gen. Reginald Centracchio entered the primary race. Centracchio went on to easily beat King nearly 2-1 in the September primary.

“This is clearly political patronage at its worst. The governor talks about laying off one thousand state employees during a budget crisis but never misses an opportunity to hand out high-paying jobs to his Republican friends,” Lynch said.

“Can anyone in the governor’s office tell us when was the last time Kerry King actually practiced law?” Lynch asked

Patronage politics aside, the former company King helped lead paid tens of thousands of dollars in Massachusetts Ethics Commission fines for illegal lobbying efforts in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Illegal lobbying in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission fined The New England Mutual Life Insurance Company $20,000 for providing lawmakers with golf outings, drinks, dinners and limousines. The fine was for 48 separate violations from June 1988 to November 1989. (Boston Globe, 9/23/94)

At the time The New England was engaging in its illegal lobbying efforts, King served as the company’s executive vice president of law, secretary and general counsel.

“The Governor has reached a startling new level of hypocrisy. Kerry King ran for lt. governor making wild accusations and filing charges at the ethics commission about Rhode Island legislators without ever disclosing the fact that he essentially participated in an effort to buy off lawmakers in Massachusetts in the late 1980s. I can’t be the only one that’s detecting the irony of this situation,” Lynch said.

According to the same Boston Globe article, the ethics commission cited reports from a senior vice president at The New England that legislation was “defeated or passed due in part to the company’s lobbying efforts.”

Deceptive practices in Rhode Island

In 1996 The New England was fined $25,000 by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation for misleading customers about policies and violating other state laws (Providence Journal 03/02/96).

A DBR review of The New England and its subsidiary covered three years, from 1991 to 1993, identifying 86 separate violations and 25 cases in which existing policies were replaced by policies issued by the companies in contravention of state reporting requirements.

At this time King was on The New England’s executive committee, serving on the board of directors from 1990 through 1996. In 1993 he was named executive vice president of New England Life.

“Is this really who the governor wants as his top lawyer? Are we really supposed to believe that Mr. King didn’t know what was going on at the time his company was involved with illegal lobbying efforts?” Lynch questioned.

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