Providence R.I.— Governor Lincoln D. Chafee is releasing the unedited text of the opinion-editorial, which was published in today's Providence Journal.
Elevate the Dialogue By Governor Lincoln D. Chafee
Back in June 2011, in the first months of my administration, Jack O'Rourke, who I don't know and have never met, had a letter published in the Providence Journal. He wrote, "Some divide the world into two camps: The people of reason and logic versus the haters. Instead of debating the people of reason and logic with reason and logic of their own, haters attack their opponents personally." O'Rourke continued, "I find it clear that Edward Achorn is a hater. Instead of putting meat on the bones of the Journal's vague suggestions for reforms, Achorn repeatedly attacks Governor Chafee personally. "
I have chuckled at the veracity and wisdom of Jack O'Rourke's observations as his point has been reinforced in Mr. Achorn's many editorials since. I have been successful in politics for nearly 30 years and I take pride in ignoring the taunts of lilliputians. I do believe that Mr. O'Rourke's "haters" will never admit they are wrong and thus are difficult to engage, and I haven't.
But the May 25th editorial's attack on Richard Licht and my nomination of him to the Superior Court Bench deserves a rebuttal. Of all the challenges we face in this great state, it is mindboggling to imagine the wastefulness of spending capital on opposing a Rhode Islander of the stature of Richard Licht to be a judge. His education, legal career and long record of public service make our state proud.
Mr. Licht holds a bachelor's and J.D. from Harvard, and an LLM in Taxation from Boston University. He has served his country in the military. He vigorously has worked for the people of Rhode Island as a former state Senator and Lt. Governor. His distinguished public service has garnered him several awards such as the Israel Peace Medal, David Ben-Gurion Award, Outstanding Man of the Year from the Jaycees, Honorary Public Service on behalf of the handicapped from the Meeting Street School, and Governmental Service Award from Ocean State Residences for the Retarded. He has fought for and achieved reforms for early childhood development and the passage of the nation's first Family and Medical Leave acts, as well as consumer protection legislation. He has been Rhode Island's best Director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration. Ted Nesi of Channel 12 recently called Richard Licht "indispensable."
Let's look at this latest editorial. The Providence Journal claims that it and unnamed "others" who care about protecting the public oppose my nomination of Mr. Licht because it violates the "spirit" of the state's revolving-door law. Rather than citing any provision of that law, the Journal simply asserts that "people in positions of great power are supposed to wait a year" before being appointed to the bench. The Journal is wrong on the law, and it glosses over the role of two important public bodies – institutions whose actual job it is to protect the public interest – that vetted and approved his nomination long before it ever came to my desk.
First, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission reviewed the revolving-door statute. I assume they did this with the full understanding of the high visibility of their decision. They then determined that Richard Licht is not subject to its provisions. Second, the Judicial Nominating Commission conducted a meticulous evaluation of all judicial candidates, including lengthy written submissions, background checks and interviews. As a result of that process, the Commission sent me a list of five candidates each of whom the Commissions deemed "highly qualified." Mr. Licht was one of two candidates receiving eight votes, a unanimous display of support. I believe in the law and public processes established to determine conflicts and to select judges. I abide by the law and those processes, and I am entitled to rely upon them. Mr. Achorn supports those processes only when he likes the result. Otherwise, as here, he defaults to personal attacks and invented legal theories.