2006-04-06 / News

Harsch pursues attorney general post

He steps aside from town solicitor duties
By Dotti Farrington

J. William W. Harsch J. William W. Harsch J. William W. Harsch, primary town solicitor for Jamestown, has stepped aside from several town assignments to pursue his Republican candidacy to unseat Democratic State Attorney General Patrick Lynch in the November election.

Since he first announced his run for state office last September, Harsch has been a guest on the radio and television circuit, as well as the producer of his own Web site. His site has been cited on Politics1, the Web site founded in 1997 as a non-partisan public service to promote informed decision making by American voters. The Harsch site was praised for design, interactivity and a donation page concept that lists costs of ads in various media, according Politics1.

On the issues, he and Tom Shevlin of Jamestown, general campaign co-ordinator, have distributed weekly statements, and the pace is expected to increase as election time comes closer.

Harsch said the attorney general must take the lead in fighting such problems as consumer fraud and utility-rate cases, and he promised he would do it better than Lynch.

Harsch said Lynch "is part of the Rhode Island political system based on interests of big business and big government. At 63, my only goal is to return the office back to the citizens who deserve real legal representation."

His past experience makes him uniquely qualified to work with federal, state and local officials, Harsch said. His kind of mature experience is needed more than ever, he noted.

Harsch criticized Lynch for dropping a well-documented, drunk-driving case at a time the attorney general was presenting himself as being tough on drunk drivers. Harsch has also challenged Lynch to return campaign contributions he received from the liquor lobby.

The Republican candidate for attorney general tied that point to recent federal reports that score Rhode Island high in alcoholrelated traffic deaths and low in pursuing drunk-driving convictions. The attorney general is the state's chief law enforcement officer and should have been doing more in the area of drunk driving, Harsch said.

A former Public Utilities Commission chairman, Harsch expressed concerns about the buyout of KeySpan and New England Gas by National Grid without any challenges on the merger from Lynch and after a 29 percent rate hike taken by National Grid.

Harsch said it is the job of the attorney general to work for consumer protection in many arenas, including the field of utilities.

The office of attorney general is under-utilized, Harsch contended, because so many Rhode Islanders have not been informed of its purpose.

The office is supposed to be a protector of people's rights against unfair profiteering and unjust penalties on bill payments, Harsch said.

Harsch has also questioned the attorney general's practice of passing many indictments to federal authorities instead of directly pursuing prosecution.

Harsch called himself a political outsider and said that enables him to bring new perspectives into government. He said he has dedicated his career to solutions for citizens' rights, government reform, and public accountability.

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