Second Anonymous Mailer Roils House Dist. 30 Race

by | Oct 7, 2018

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

A number of House Dist. 30 residences got an unsigned letter in pink ink in the mail late last week (“Pinkwave” letter), purportedly in support of Democratic candidate Justine Caldwell but with such overblown rhetoric, both campaigns are calling foul.

The letter opens with “The #PINKWAVE is here! Vote Justine Caldwell for State House!!” The two-page screed goes on to say that men only care about sex and want women to cook, clean, iron and have sex with them, refers to Caldwell’s opponent Republican Anthony Giarrusso as a “sleazy Italian,” and is punctuated with dozens of exclamation points.

It would seem an obvious parody.

The Caldwell campaign has denied any connection to the letter. Rather, Justine Caldwell said she thought it was a hit piece designed to damage her candidacy. 

“This is the second anonymous letter sent out by people who are trying to harm my campaign,” she wrote in a post on Next Door. She was referring to a letter sent to some segment of the district in August, accusing Caldwell’s husband, David Caldwell (who serves as her campaign manager) of having legal trouble in Ohio.

“I will confess that I’m stunned that anyone reading this letter would believe it,” Caldwell said in a statement Sunday. “But I’ve heard from people who believed it, and that’s why we need help getting the facts out.”

Meanwhile, Giarrusso included the letter in an email sent out from his campaign Sunday (Giarrusso ‘pinkwave’ response), decrying its contents.

“I’m saddened to see political discourse fall to this level, but there has been a steady drumbeat like this for some time now from the Justine Caldwell campaign and its surrogates,” he said in the email.

In an interview, Giarrusso said both he and his wife were sent copies of the letter. He vehemently denied any involvement.

“I’m not taking blame for it. I’m blaming them and their supporters for this,” he said, referring to Caldwell. “I’m the victim.”

When asked if he thought it was a parody, Giarrusso said he thought it sounded like Caldwell to him.

“I don’t believe that they didn’t have some hand in it because the rhetoric is very, very similar,” he said.

Asked if a supporter of his could be behind the letter, Giarrusso said no.

“If anybody that is near and dear to me did something like that, I would be very upset,” he said.

The letter controversy comes just days after the only candidates forum to feature Caldwell and Giarrusso, which can be watched below.


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14 Comments

  1. Judi Zimmer

    Only an idiot would think this came out of Dr. Caldwell’s campaign. First of all, it is a violation of campaign finance law to issue any mailer without a signature/sponsor’s name. Why would she risk that kind of result? One can only ask himself or herself who would have something (or think they have something)to gain by issuing what amounts to poison pen letters? One has to ask who is it who has access to the list of eligible Republican voters in East Greenwich? Who has the resources to print and mail this garbage? Giarrusso slanders Dr. Caldwell at every opportunity and, just like Brett Kavanaugh and Lindsey Graham and other dishonest, whining male Republicans dares to turn around and play the victim. He and his people are running scared and pulling out all stops to attempt to not only destroy Dr. Caldwell’s candidacy, but her reputation in the community. Just as video of the candidate forum shows HIS supporters disrupting the proceedings in a most uncivil manner, we will find out that he or his sycophants are behind this disgusting display of election manipulation.

    Reply
  2. David Caldwell

    Rep. Giarrusso desperately says, “I don’t believe that they [Justine’s campaign] didn’t have some hand in it because the rhetoric is very, very similar.”

    No, it’s not. Don’t be fooled. See Justine’s “rhetoric” at her Facebook page: https://facebook.com/Justine4RI. Or ask Rep. Giarrusso for examples of what he means and ask him for proof. He won’t be able to provide it.

    After the debate — watch the video, in which Justine Caldwell looked like a State Representative and our incumbent State Representative couldn’t even hold his own — they are justifiably worried that he can’t retain the seat. So they want to run against women and #MeToo and the opposition to Brett Kavanaugh (who Giarrusso signed a letter in support of, though he falsely denied doing so — twice — during the debate).

    When you’re trying to figure out who sent an anonymous mailer, ask yourself three questions:

    1. Which candidate has the most to gain from it? (Giarrusso; the letter is crazy)
    2. Which candidate is promoting it? (Giarrusso; Justine tried to ignore it until Giarrusso started using his legislative E-mail to promote it)
    3. Which candidate hired a campaign manager who was fired from his last job for impersonating a political opponent? (Giarrusso, who hired Chuck Newton, who was fired from the State House and dismissed from the East Greenwich Republican Town Committee for falsely impersonating a political opponent).

    Then make your decision about what’s really happening.

    Reply
  3. Michael Collins

    “he falsely denied ”???What?
    “falsely impersonating”??? What What??
    I find it grossly inappropriate for the husband of the candidate to be plugging her, her candidacy and her Facebook page.
    “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark“ -WS

    Reply
    • David Caldwell

      Sorry, I was just providing some facts.

      “falsely denied” — he brought up the Kavanaugh letter and said people talking about it were spreading lies, but had to admit the next day that his denials were false and he had signed a letter after all.

      “falsely impersonating” — Chuck Newton, Giarrusso’s campaign manager was fired from his State House job and dismissed from the East Greenwich Republican Town Committee for creating a fake Facebook page denigrating a political opponent. http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20140204/news/302049993

      I’m sorry you find the production of these facts to be “grossly inappropriate.” Voters deserve to have the facts, especially in the face of so much misinformation (like Rep. Giarrusso’s ludicrous accusations that Justine was behind the letter, or that it sounds like her).

      Reply
      • Michael Collins

        For clarification, I find your promotion of your wife in this forum grossly inappropriate. Attaching a link to her FB page? Really? You are her campaign manager or her “quasi” manager are you not? Buy an ad, write an editorial but your amateur political tactics and methods are the reason people do not like you and will not take you or your wife seriously in this town.
        Let’s talk issues?
        Based on your wife’s perspective, what are issues that our community and the State faces? What is her plan to solve/remedy/fix the State of Rhode Island and how is she going to represent us better than Rep. Giarrusso has? Why should anyone vote for her? Hint…the answer is not because what the other candidate has done or not done.

        Reply
        • David Caldwell

          She discussed dozens of issues at the debate whose video is literally right above your comment. Also, she has a web site at https://justine4ri.com/ that explains her positions on a wide variety of issues.

          Reply
          • Michael Collins

            I was there so I need not watch it. Funny thing is that I do not recall he specifically mentioning what is broken with Rhode Osland and how she is going to fix it.
            Haha you hack! Send me a pin and bumper sticker!
            What was her website again?

  4. Alan Clarke

    Why anyone with half a brain would spend any more time than it takes to toss such nonsense into the nearest rubbish bin befuddles me. To write letters about it advances the foolishness and reduces us all. It’s time we begin the long journey to re-civilizing ourselves. First look for a signature.

    Reply
  5. Melissa Jenkins

    A group of his colleagues in the state house organized a “pink wave” press event to encourage more women to participate in the political process. It was a positive and inspiring event. This letter directly mocks the effort to address longstanding hurdles to full representation in government by women. If he didn’t write it, he certainly circulated it and tried to use it to smear his opponent. It’s disrespectful to her, as well as to his colleagues and to every woman who participated in the Pink Wave event, including me. Shame on him. If you live in East Greenwich, please vote for Dr. Justine Caldwell. We do not need that kind of disrespect from a state representative.

    Reply
  6. Melinda

    Just seems odd Caldwell immediately moves to turn this into a fundraising opportunity.

    Reply
  7. Katy Essington

    I am really disgusted with how Giarrusso has handled this bogus flyer by distributing it to his supporters using his legislative email and his attempt to now portray himself as the victim on talk radio. He is largely responsible for the nastiness of this campaign. I hope this bogus mailing is thoroughly investigated and someone is held accountable. EG deserves honest and ethical representation. Vote Caldwell!

    Reply
  8. Bluedog

    What a shame that this is how we have devolved. Whomever received this letter should have thrown it in the trash where it obviously belongs. BOTH campaigns should not have dignified this with a response. After this, I will not be voting for either candidate.

    Reply
    • David Caldwell

      To be fair, Justine tried to ignore it. She only was pushed into responding when her opponent aggressively promoted the letter — E-mailing it out to his list, posting it all over social media, going on multiple talk radio shows to talk about it.

      She did think it was ridiculous and merited no response. But her opponent amplified it to the point she had to be involved.

      Reply
  9. Amy Snyder

    I would like to thank Justine for continuing to run a fair and ethical campaign. As a community we must all strongly denounce this type of foul play. We are fortunate to have such a qualified candidate. Her dedication, in the face of such tactics, is inspirational to me and to a generation of young people who are watching.

    Reply

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