Ex-treasurer Caprio seeks former post

Former Rhode Island General Treasurer Frank Caprio says he misses public service.

Caprio on Tuesday launched his campaign for the office. He walked away from the post in 2010, when he ran for governor as a Democrat and lost.

He said this time he will focus his energies exclusively on the job of general treasurer.

At his announcement at Caserta's Pizza on Federal Hill, he was critical of the current investment strategy of General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. He said too much money -- about $70 million last year -- is being paid hedge fund managers.

He claims he could get better performance for $50 million less in fees. And he'd divert that $50 million to pensioners who suffered cuts under the state pension reform legislation. He thinks that could help settle the case out of court.

Caprio believes that's the safest course for Rhode Island.

"If the state sits back and lets the case go to trial there could be very unintended consequences," he said. "That is, the whole change that was put in a couple of years ago could be thrown out. And if you do that, there's going to be a hole in the state budget hundreds of millions of dollars wide."

He is a newly-committed Democrat, having disaffiliated during his three-year career in the investment world, and rejoining the party Tuesday. Observers say he will make problems for Raimondo who is expected to run for governor.

"It impacts the gubernatorial race, especially on the Democratic side. Because you not only have the possibility of Treasurer Raimondo running and he's not backing her flank. He's criticizing what she's done and saying we can do better. So it's not just Republicans attacking her, Democrats now attacking means she's getting attacked from both ends," said Professor Kay Israel of Rhode Island College.

Caprio has already lent his campaign $200,000 and says he will commit whatever resources it takes to win. He will not accept campaign contributions from state employees or any businesses that contract with the state.

Former auditor Ernie Almonte is already in the race and in a statement Tuesday said Rhode Island voters, "don't want another career politician, and they're tired of the gimmicks."

No Republican has announced yet.