Chafee won't budge on release of fraud report

Gov. Lincoln Chafee talked about the Block report on Sunday's edition of "10 News Conference."

Gov. Lincoln Chafee's decision to withhold a report on waste and fraud in the human services departments of Rhode Island was being criticized from many quarters Monday.

"That's exactly the wrong thing to do," said state Sen. Edward O'Neill, an independent from Lincoln and a member of the Senate Government Oversight Committee.

"What he really ought to be doing is putting it out there and saying, 'Look, we've got an opportunity here to save X-millions of dollars for the people of Rhode Island. Let's get after it. Let's fix these problems right now and put this money back into the budget where it belongs,'" O'Neill said.

Common Cause Executive Director John Marion said he sees no legal reason to withhold the report even if there's an investigation under way.

"They can redact information that might be sensitive of some nature," Marion said. "This is a public document about how government is performing or not performing correctly, and the public has a right to see it."

Chafee told "10 News Conference" this week that the report, compiled for free by former Moderate Party candidate for governor Ken Block, revealed waste and fraud, but that he did not have any intention of making the report public.

The governor urged taxpayers to "trust Chafee" and that his administration will work to cut out any waste and fraud.

Chafee released a statement Monday afternoon saying, "I have chosen at this time not to release the preliminary findings to protect our ability to adequately investigate" any instances of fraud or waste, opening the door to a future release.

But the contract signed between the state and Ken Block's company includes a clause, referencing the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

"EOHHS agrees that it will not unreasonably withhold its consent or unreasonably fail to cooperate with Simpatico regarding the release of the aforementioned numerical data or numerical results," the contract says.

Several news organizations, including NBC 10 News, have submitted formal requests for the report under public records requests.