PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican gubernatorial candidate Patricia Morgan is promising to tap two prominent members of her party, former gubernatorial candidate Ken Block and former Attorney General Arlene Violet, to hunt waste if she gets elected.
Morgan announced Tuesday she plans to have Block, a software engineer, “perform a waste and fraud investigation of our Temporary Disability Insurance program free of charge when I am governor.” She said she wants Block to explore why Rhode Island has similar benefits but higher premiums than New Jersey, one of the few other states with TDI.
“I applaud Patricia Morgan who has not only pledged to protect taxpayer dollars but will actually take the necessary steps to do so,” Block said in a statement distributed by Morgan’s campaign. “I am confident that Patricia will take those steps and look forward to serving the people of Rhode Island by finally being able to do this analysis.”
Block said he made the same offer to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and her predecessor, independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee, but neither took him up on it. Block did conduct a study in 2013 for Chafee on fraud in other state programs, though Chafee and his aides distanced themselves from it.
Block lost the hard-fought 2014 GOP gubernatorial primary to Allan Fung, who pointed out in his own statement Tuesday that Block has endorsed neither him nor Morgan. “While four years ago we were fierce opponents, Ken and I have developed a friendly relationship, and I respect his tireless work,” Fung said in a statement.
“I’d actually bring Ken in on a greater scale, and look to use his expertise in fixing the UHIP disaster, which needs an all hands and minds on deck type of mentality on day one of my administration,” Fung said, referring to the botched $647-million computer system for benefits.
Morgan – like Fung and the third Republican candidate in next week’s primary, Giovanni Feroce – also strongly supports the creation of a state inspector general’s office, which would be tasked with investigating waste and fraud in government. Last week Morgan said she would appoint Violet as the first inspector general.
“This is how we begin to stop the ‘business as usual’ method of running our state,” Morgan said Tuesday. “Rhode Island can’t afford it: neither morally and financially.”