A Controversy That Wasn’t

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has made headiness as of late over some “correspondence” he had with Rep. Patricia Morgan.

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Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has made headiness as of late over some “correspondence” he had with Rep. Patricia Morgan.

Reading all the hype on social media, I immediately assumed that Kilmartin must have used some completely out of bounds, derogatory language that would even make the most liberal observer look away in agony. Kilmartin must have called her some of the most horrendous words in the English language; something that could make even the most seasoned veterans of profanity such as yours truly cringe in disbelief. That could only warrant such widespread condemnation. What I found was far from it.

It turns out, some are upset because Kilmartin referred to Morgan as “Patty” in some correspondence and that was deemed sexist. The exact comment is as follows: “Patty Morgan will not receive ‘special’ treatment because she thinks she is more entitled than the average citizen.” Morgan was also being charged a lot of money to get some documents related to a Google settlement.

Some have gone so far as to call it “sexism.” When hearing about this controversy, I thought about all the correspondence I’ve had with elected leaders federal, state, and local. I regularly email, telephone, and even send postcards to officials on a daily basis. It is important to note, I use their first name sometimes, and also use their official names other times. Even advisor to the Rhode Island Democratic Party Bill Lynch has joined the chorus condemning Kilmartin (Lynch does have some bad blood with Kilmartin though).

Rep. Morgan is outraged by the amount of money being charged for public documents.

I am not sure how this is sexist; I’ve heard Kilmartin refer to many of our federal, state, and local officials by their first names in the past. I didn’t find it sexist, but here we are today. The extreme amount of money – around $4,000 or $8,000 (different numbers were thrown out there) – for public documents seems high, but not sure how that is sexist.

I remember the craziness that ensues whenever I file public records requests. I am not making an excuse for one party or another, but public records requests shouldn’t cost the public a lot of money. If they do, we should look to change that law.  Let’s stop with the constant attacks over what looks like a relatively minor issue, and let’s focus on making laws that make our state a better place to live.

Matthew Fecteau
Matt Fecteau of Pawtucket, Rhode Island is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an Iraq War veteran. Send him email at Matthew.Fecteau@gmail.com
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