Asked whether the governor is recruiting candidates for treasurer, and whether he would view Caprio as a member of his team, Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal limited his comment to this: “The governor is recruiting candidates for every state office that is open this year, but at this time he is not prepared to discuss individual candidacies.”
To critics, Judge Caprio’s decision to move his family from Providence to Narragansett several decades back, as well as the judge’s friendly relations with the governor, raise the specter of a pronounced drift toward Republicanism. In January 2003, the judge and his wife attended a Carcieri fundraiser at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick — Bakst described them at the time as “Caricieri pals” — and Joyce Caprio and Marissa Caprio, Frank and David’s sister, have made campaign contributions to the governor, according to the state Board of Elections. Frank and David Caprio are also both said to be quite friendly with Jeff Britt, the governor’s liaison to House Democrats.
Considering all this, Frank Caprio’s early lock on the treasurer’s job “is a very scary proposition to a lot of progressive Democrats,” says one Democratic observer. Having someone sympathetic to the GOP side would represent a coup for Carcieri, the source says. Citing how David Caprio has been part of efforts to unseat Murphy, this Democrat adds, “They’re not true Democrats. They’re more in touch with the Carcieri clan than the Democratic Party.”
This view, however, is hardly uniform in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
Patrick J. Quinn, director of the state council of the Rhode Island Service Employees International Union, for example, says the contrasting stances of the Caprio brothers — with Frank being more supportive of labor, and David less so — may mostly be a reflection of their different constituencies. Referring to his attendance at a Frank Caprio event in Narragansett last fall, Quinn says, “There were no Republicans there. I didn’t see anyone from the governor’s office or anything like that.”
Asked about suggestions that he’s aligned outside the Democratic Party, Frank Caprio says, “I don’t think that’s based on the reality at all.” He dismisses his family’s move to Narragansett as any indication of a Republican drift, noting that Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline was among his classmates and that the South County of 30 years ago was a far different place. Caprio freely describes having introduced Britt, who went to school with his brother John, around the State House for a few months in 2001 when Britt developed an interest in politics after a career in banking and finance. He adds, however, “Against my wishes, he’s been really involved with the current Republican administration. He’s a Republican; I’m a Democrat.”
All in the family
When Tucker Carlson and James Carville appeared February 21 at Rhode Island College, the ProJo described how Judge Frank Caprio was in the front row, alongside his two sons who serve in the General Assembly. “We work together, so we see each other every day,” says Frank T. Caprio. “That’s more the norm than the exception,” although Joyce Caprio is usually along for the outings as well.