Caranci nominated for 'courage' in three councilors' convictions

Caranci nominated for 'courage' in three councilors' convictions

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Paul Caranci, the former town councilman who helped the FBI take down three corrupt colleagues on the council, has been nominated for the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award for the courage he showed throughout.

A voting form sent to members says that Caranci was nominated "for his courage in working with the FBI and other law enforcement entities to expose public corruption and bribery schemes that were masterminded by three of his fellow town councilmen in North Providence, Rhode Island, placing his own political career and personal/family safety at great risk."

Caranci fed the FBI the information they needed to arrest and convict former council members Joe Burchfield, John Zambarano and Raymond Douglas. The three men were convicted of corruption charges in 2011 after taking $50,000 in bribes to grant a zone change.

The former councilman and current author and historian is the first staff person from a secretary of state's office ever nominated for the award.

Caranci, who was nominated by Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, works as deputy secretary of state under Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, former mayor in North Providence.

The following is a partial transcript of Caranci's nomination:

"Despite the many personal, family and financial hardships endured as a result of his undercover work, he persevered, gathering almost 1,000 hours of audio and video recorded conversations," it reads. "Because of his efforts, three sitting councilmen (including the council president), a former town solicitor, a former council president, a strip club manager, a radio DJ and an unlicensed insurance broker, entered guilty pleas or were found guilty at trial where Paul was the main witness."

Because of Caranci's efforts, he has suffered financial hardship, been a victim of slurs and a target of vandalism to both his home and his vehicles, states the nomination.

"Despite his rising political star, he chose to not seek re-election to another term on the council but has continued to serve as deputy secretary of state and is expected to until the term of the secretary expires in January 2015.

Caranci's wife Margie said it was "heartwarming" to hear about her husband's nomination after all he's been through since the investigation of the three councilmen.

Established in 1992, the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award is named after the former U.S. senator from Maine, who jeopardized her career by speaking out against the "red-baiting" tactics of Senator Joseph P. McCarthy in the 1950s, according to the award website.

Award recipients are recognized for similar acts of political courage, uncommon character, and selfless action in the realm of public service. Emphasis is placed on more recent acts of courage

Past winners have included the likes of Rosa Parks, Condoleezza Rice, Sandra Day O'Connor, John Sirica, Rudy Giuliani, Jimmy Carter, Bob Dole, Nancy Kassebaum, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Jim and Sarah Brady and Elizabeth Dole.

The others up for selection this year are:

* George Christian, Barbara Bailey, Peter Chase and Janet Nocek, the four Connecticut librarians who mounted a successful legal challenge against the FBI's attempts to ban them from revealing that they had received a request for patrons' records under the Patriot Act.

* And Dr. Helen Holt, for blazing a trail as the first woman to hold political office in West Virginia, serving in the West Virginia House of Delegates and then as secretary of state. She has had many important contributions during her long career in public service and political activism, according to her nomination, and she continues to work today at the age of 100.

Comments

Caranci showed commitment to the citizens of NP vs. political cover up that persists in RI. He stands in a select group of individuals that we can all call a leader without prejudice. Thank you for bringing back some confidence in our political system at least as it should be.