I-Team: RI Democratic Party Chairman David Caprio resigns

David Caprio

David Caprio, is resigning as chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, the party's executive director told NBC 10 News on Tuesday.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after an I-Team investigation revealed a state police investigation into a contract awarded to Caprio to run concessions at three state beaches.

Caprio said he doesn't have the time to devote to the party during an election year.

"There are numerous, talented Democrats seeking office. I cannot, at this time, dedicate the necessary time and energy to assist them in their respective campaigns. Accordingly, I no longer will serve as party chair," Caprio said in a statement emailed to NBC 10 News.

The I-Team reported that a company owned by Caprio is running the concessions at three state beaches and that a friend of his, state Rep. Peter Palumbo, is managing those stands after Palumbo won the original bids and backed out.

The Rhode Island State Police are investigating the arrangement and how the bid process played out between Caprio and Palumbo.

Palumbo initially won the concession contracts at Scarborough, Roger Wheeler and Misquamicut state beaches. He withdrew his bid, and Caprio was the runner up with a bid about $200,000 less than Palumbo's bid.

Competitors were concerned and alleged that the two politicians worked together to win the contract. Caprio would not answer any questions from the I-Team. Palumbo said he couldn't come up with the money for the concessions and that he was glad his friend won the bid and hired him because he needed the job.

Republican candidate Ken Block called out Caprio and Palumbo as politically connected insiders abusing their positions.

"Look, I know how this works, state contracting is serious business. You can't mess around with it, if you do, there are repercussions for it," Block said. "State lawmakers should not be anywhere near state contracts."

Block's primary challenger, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, also commented.

"It really does not look good and presents a lot of concerns, and I'm glad the state police are looking into this," Fung said.

The I-Team asked the three major Democratic candidates for governor for comment about the contract, but none responded.

Caprio, of Narragansett, became party chairman in October. He previously served in the state House of Representatives. He is an attorney in his family's law firm. His brother, Frank T. Caprio, is running for general treasurer.

State Rep. Grace Diaz, of Providence, will become acting chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.