The R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education hasn’t figured out yet whether it received the jobless benefits documents leaked to damage Chafee campaign manager J.R. Pagliarini, let alone who has access to them, spokesman Steve Maurano told me in an e-mail a few minutes ago.
“We’re still chasing it down,” he said.
For those just joining us, let’s start with a recap. You can skip two paragraphs if you’re already up-to-date with the details of this story.
Lincoln Chafee’s campaign manager, John “J.R.” Pagliarini, resigned yesterday morning after he was confronted with leaked documents that appeared to show he collected jobless benefits and a campaign paycheck for two weeks in late December. The campaign said Pagliarini did not double-dip – a quirk in the payroll company’s computer system credited his compensation to weeks that overlapped, even though he stopped getting benefits on Jan. 2 before starting work Jan. 4.
By mid-afternoon, attention had shifted from Chafee to his rival Frank Caprio – more specifically his father, Judge Frank Caprio, who chairs the R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education. Pagliarini worked for the board of governors from March 2008 to July 2009, when he was laid off – hence why he was receiving jobless benefits in the first place. It turns out the leaked documents – which were notices sent to Pagliarini’s former employer showing the benefits he got – were addressed to the former headquarters of the board of governors.
More details emerged this morning when Pagliarini sat for an interview with WPRO’s Dan Yorke. Pagliarini said Judge Caprio is the one who approached him about taking the job with the board of governors in the first place – back in early 2008 – after he lost his job in a Carcieri administration reshuffle.
In July 2009, Pagliarini received a letter from Maurano saying his job had been eliminated after the General Assembly cut funding. But when Pagliarini went to file for jobless benefits, he says the board of governors argued he wasn’t eligible because he had resigned. But the R.I. Department of Labor and Training ruled in Pagliarini’s favor when he showed DLT the letter from Maurano, which meant he was eligible.
Stephen Erickson, a Chafee backer and retired state judge representing Pagliarini, told WPRO-AM this morning he has no doubt the documents were illegally leaked by someone with access to them inside the board of governors. He wants the state police and the district attorney to investigate. Erickson also said Pagliarini has a form dated Jan. 9 saying he should no should longer get unemployment benefits because he would first get paid on Jan. 15. (He received his last unemployment check on Jan. 4 for a period ending Jan. 2.)
Yorke also pointed out something I didn’t know: Pagliarini’s father died of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 3, 2009 – he was dying at the same time Pagliarini was unemployed post-layoff. Erickson adds that it provides a partial alibi for Pagliarini, as well – he was too busy taking care of his ailing father to work at the time (although he died before the dates in question). Pagliarini said Chafee’s campaign headquarters was near his father’s hospice, and he did visit occasionally.
This post has been expanded since it was first published.