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AP: Questioning Caprio Campaign Contributions

A string of less-than-flattering stories for the Caprio camp continues with new ones from the Associated Press and the Providence Journal, which focus on campaign contributions from a firm handling Station fire cases.

None of these stories have a "smoking gun" quality about them. The question is when do the steady stream of questions about Frank Caprio start to create a real problem for him in the polls? From the AP piece:

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio has accepted roughly $50,000 in political contributions from lawyers at a Boston law firm that was referred dozens of clients from a deadly Rhode Island nightclub fire by the law firm of Caprio's family.

At least 20 lawyers with Cooley Manion Jones, which is making millions of dollars from its involvement in the case, have contributed to Caprio between 2005 and 2010. Several attorneys have annually donated $1,000, the maximum allowed under state law. One partner says he's hosted fundraisers for Caprio and expects to continue to do so, and wives of several of the lawyers have also contributed the maximum amount.

The contributions were made in the years after Caprio & Caprio referred the clients to Cooley Manion Jones, which has an office in the Caprios' building. The firm is one of the primary ones handling lawsuits from from the February 2003 fire at The Station nightclub, and the clients referred by the Caprio firm are just a portion of the more than 300 people who sued.

Lawyers at both firms said there was nothing improper about either the referrals or the political contributions, saying they reflected a long-standing personal and professional relationship and that the referrals were in no way contingent on financial support for Caprio's candidacy. Caprio said he saw no reason to return the money.

"There's no quid pro quo. There never was. There never would be. There's no way," said Patrick Jones, the firm's lead lawyer in the nightclub fire cases. Jones says he's hosted fundraisers for Caprio, and state campaign finance records show he's personally given $5,000 to Caprio since 2005.

 

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