Only on 10: Republican candidates disavow ugly emails
This is about as ugly as you would want: personal, vile and offensive.
Somebody sent emails portraying Ken Block and his campaign staff as homophobic and making fun of his Republican gubernatorial opponent, Allan Fung, and Fung's girlfriend.
Whoever sent it was trying to make Block look bad, and they didn't just send it to NBC 10. The Block campaign is trying to flush out the author.
It came in an email from a supposed volunteer with Block. The email said inappropriate hijinks in the campaign headquarters were so distasteful the volunteer had to leave the campaign. But no such volunteer seems to exist, and the people named as creating the false webpages were not in the place the emailer claimed, according to the Block camp.
The email included screen shots, called Fung's girlfriend "Buffy" and suggested she is gay, and indicated Block was at headquarters approving the comments.
"I can't sit back and let Ken say he's running a clean campaign when he is the king of nasty" and "They say really gross things. Ken is a total creep and calls Fung's wife a queen [expletive]. That's when I left," the allegedly dismayed volunteer said.
NBC 10 contacted Fung's campaign, and spokesman Pat Sweeney said they've heard of these emails now for over a month, and "are as offended as anybody else and truly embarrassed by the situation."
Block's spokesman, Jeff Britt, learned of the emails from NBC 10 News.
"When you called me on June 5 and asked me some questions that's when it first came to light," Britt said.
He's since learned of other people getting this message.
"I found out that all three TV stations had received it. The Providence Journal had received it. One or two other publications," Britt said.
And then he found out similar emails -- different senders, but the same basic story -- have been sent to prominent Republicans, like Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and party Chairman Mark Smiley, for starters.
It could create a problem for the campaign.
"My fear is people who don't know Mr. Block or don't know his staff or don't take the time to look. It can be very damaging," Britt said.
The campaign's lawyer has called in attorney Mark Freel to see what recourse is available.
"There could certainly be civil liability for these statements because they could very well be slanderous or defamatory, and we could pursue that," Freel said.
Britt delivered a complaint to state police, who have told NBC 10 News they're not sure if there's any crime to investigate.
Block's camp is taking its own steps to try and find the source of the emails. The emailer stopped responding to me when I asked to meet with them.