By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Some background on Rhode Island’s A.G.

Hey, Joe Dwinell: You should see what people talk about on the phone. Sex, drugs — all manner of illegal activity. Maybe it’s time we brought Verizon to heel, eh?

My friend and former employer Stephen Mindich, publisher of the Phoenix newspapers, is doing a perfectly fine job of defending himself. I just thought I’d point out that Rhode Island attorney general Patrick Lynch, who wants to crack down on adult advertising on Craigslist and in the Phoenix following a recent murder linked to a Craigslist ad, was the proud recipient of a 2004 Phoenix Muzzle Award.

In brief, here’s what happened: a man died in the custody of the North Kingstown police. Local officials refused to release public records pertaining to the case. And Lynch, whose duties include enforcing the state’s open-records law, not only refused to order the release of those records, but coached local authorities on how to keep them private.

Here’s what Providence Journal columnist Edward Achorn wrote at the time about Lynch’s behavior:

He would have served the public much better had he acted immediately to get the facts out, and let the investigation proceed. It is hard to see and no one has explained how sharing basic information with citizens would have impeded such an investigation. And it presents a clear conflict for the attorney general to join police in keeping records secret, when he is the government official charged with enforcing the Open Records Law.

With regard to Craigslist and the Phoenix, Lynch should concentrate on punishing illegal behavior, not speech. Prostitution and the dangers accompanying it, after all, have been with us forever.

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1 Comment

  1. deargod

    The focus of Lynch and Dwinell isn’t the 900# ads for people with foot fetishes, it’s the local classified ads for prostitute “massage” services and the like. Mindich knows he’s taking money from prostitutes in exchange for allowing them to advertise in his paper. That’s just plain illegal, and I’m amazed it’s gone on for so long. Mindich does his defense no favors when saying, “Young girls are killed all the time. I’m sad and horrified about it. (Brisman) wasn’t killed by an ad, but by a person.” I’d like to hear Mindich substitute the word “gun” for “ad.”

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