PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – A former candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General who was appointed last year to an unpaid state council post, resigned after questions about an email he sent in his capacity with a non-profit veterans organization.
Erik Wallin, Executive Director of Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, sent the email that the recipient called “shocking and disgusting.” Wallin resigned his position on the Rhode Island Governor’s Council on Behavioral Health after Target 12 questioned him about the message. Governor Lincoln Chafee appointed Wallin to the state position in 2013. Wallin ran for attorney general in the 2010 election cycle, losing to Peter Kilmartin in the general election.
“I think this is deplorable,” Daryl Guberman said, referring to the email that aimed expletives and provocative phrases at his wife and mother. The email, sent from Wallin’s Stand Down Rhode Island account, includes three obscene words.
It begins “Respectfully, your wife if suitably attractive may…” It ends with a comment about “your god (sic) forsaken mothers (sic)…”
“This is not becoming of an individual who represents the government of Rhode Island,” Guberman said. “Number two, he represents the veterans. This is a poor representation of the veterans.”
Guberman said he received the three sentence email after he emailed a business pitch to Stand Down Rhode Island veterans. According to his email, Guberman was offering veteran owned companies ISO certification assistance at a discount.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island is a non-profit that received $833,916 in government grants and contributions according to its 2012 IRS 990 tax return. The document indicates the organization’s budget was about $1 million for that tax year.
Wallin said he knew nothing about Guberman or his business when he sent the email. He claims it was fueled by frustration over unsolicited emails that he receives.
“I receive dozens of spam mails, often causing important emails to bounce back undelivered, negatively impacting my work,” Wallin said in a statement. “I apologize to Mr. Guberman and his family for the crudeness of my language. This was unfortunately a combination of poor judgment (and) frustration over incessant spam mail targeting veterans.”
Guberman said he sent emails about the incident to Chafee and several other elected officials last week, with no response.
Chafee’s Director of Communications Faye Zuckerman said Wallin’s resignation was accepted Monday.
“Appointees to our state boards and commissions are held to a high standard,” Zuckerman said. “The Governor expects every appointee to conduct himself or herself in a professional manner.”
In a statement to Target 12, Operation Stand Down Board Chairman Tony DeQuattro said Wallin will keep his job at the organization that used government grant money and private donations to help homeless and low-income veterans with a variety of issues.
”Operation Stand Down is an organization that is founded on the principle of giving veterans a second chance. We extend that same courtesy to our staff,” DeQuattro said. “Mr. Wallin has proven himself to be an outstanding leader and we will not discredit his work in the veteran community as a result of one mistake.”
While Wallin said his office receives dozens of emails from businesses that solicit veterans, Guberman said Wallin’s response to him followed a single email about his business.