In January of 2012, just days after Jessica Ahlquist won her lawsuit to take down a religious mural from Cranston High School West, Rhode Island State Rep. Peter Palumbo went on the John DePetro radio show and famously called her an “evil little thing,” quickly adding that even if she wasn’t evil, she was being “coerced” into fighting her lawsuit by evil people.
Just to reiterate, an elected government official was name-calling a teenager because she was defending the Constitution. That’s how messed up it was.
So you can imagine the schadenfreude I’m feeling now that Palumbo is in the middle of a contract scandal.
Here’s the story in a nutshell: Anyone could place a bid to manage the concession stands on three state beaches and the highest bidder would get the contract. The highest bidder turned out to be Palumbo, who bid nearly $1,800,000 for a five-year contact. Coming in second was David Caprio, the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, who bid about $1,550,000.
Then things got weird:
… [Palumbo] won the contract but then backed out, prompting the state to award the contract to Caprio. After Caprio won the contract, he chose Palumbo to manage all of the stands. Palumbo told NBC 10 that he and Caprio are friends.
Caprio resigned (supposedly for unrelated reasons) this week, but Palumbo is still in office.
Steve Ahlquist (Jessica’s uncle) offered this analysis:
Should Peter Palumbo step down? If he and David Caprio colluded to profit… at the people’s expense, then yes he should. Certainly everyone is entitled to a presumption of innocence, and no one is sure as of yet that this entire affair involves anything precisely illegal, but the stench of insider politics and profits at the expense of taxpayers hovers over this mess in a way familiar to those who follow Rhode island politics…
Given his track record of poor decision making, it would hardly be surprising if Palumbo was ultimately taken down by his own actions. It’s about damn time, isn’t it?
(Thanks to Brian for the link)