Rhode Island Attorney General election, 2014

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Rhode Island Attorney General Election

Primary Date:
September 9, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Peter Kilmartin Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Peter Kilmartin Democratic Party
Peter Kilmartin.jpg

Rhode Island State Executive Elections
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The Rhode Island Attorney General election took place on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Peter Kilmartin (D) was first elected in 2010 and was running for re-election. He faced Republican candidate Dawson Hodgson in the general election.[1] Peter Kilmartin won election to a four-year term.

A poll taken by local TV station WPRI in October found Kilmartin ahead of Hodgson by 14 percent though 20 percent of respondents were undecided. Hodgson had an uphill climb in the 2014 election as Democratic candidates won the previous three elections as indicated in the past elections section linked here. Former Attorney General Patrick Lynch won election to the office by 23 percent in 2002, while Kilmartin won by 14 percent in 2010. Learn more about the candidates' positions on economic issues and corruption by jumping to the campaign themes section.

Rhode Island is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. Unaffiliated voters may vote in a party's primary, but they will then be considered affiliated with that party. In order to disaffiliate, they must file a "Change of Party Designation" form.[2]


General election

Democratic Party Peter Kilmartin - IncumbentGreen check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Dawson Hodgson - State Senator[3]


General election

Attorney General of Rhode Island, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPeter Kilmartin Incumbent 56.9% 177,981
     Republican Dawson Hodgson 43% 134,444
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.2% 589
Total Votes 313,014
Election Results via State of Rhode Island.

Campaign themes

Both candidates in this race made public statements about policies that impact Rhode Island voters. The following sections quote statements from campaign websites verbatim:


Dawson Hodgson

Let’s face it: Rhode Island’s economy is not going to improve until we fix our reputation.

Ranked near the bottom of most business competitiveness rankings, Rhode Island currently suffers the highest unemployment rate in America, and has the second lowest trust in government. We cannot afford to ignore these connections any longer. After all, what business would invest in our state while the FBI is executing search warrants in our state capitol?

State leadership on matters of public trust is critical to changing Rhode Island’s reputation and attracting new jobs.

That’s the Attorney General’s responsibility. We need a leader like Dawson Hodgson to make it happen. As a prosecutor and state senator Dawson Hodgson has spent his career standing up for the people of Rhode Island, working for safe streets, a strong economy, and restoring the public’s trust in government. He has shown he has what it takes to stand up to the political insiders who have ruined our reputation. That’s why he’s running for Attorney General: to be a watchdog for the people, not the politicians.

Businesses and consumers look to the Attorney General to advocate for their interests on legal matters that intersect with the economy.

Dawson believes the Attorney General should serve as a regulatory advocate for Rhode Islanders: making sure that our laws and regulations safeguard our environment, safety, and economy without preventing economic growth. Having grown up working in his family’s small business, Dawson knows what is at stake here. A strong Attorney General is crucial to encouraging a strong economy.

Recognized each year as a “Friend of Small Business” by the N.F.I.B., Dawson has been consistently ranked by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity as having one of the strongest pro-economic growth voting records in the legislature.

Dawson will stand up for a free and fair marketplace when he is elected Attorney General just as he has done for the past four years in the state Senate. [4]

—Dawson Hodgson's campaign website, (2014) [5]

Peter Kilmartin

A lifetime resident of the Ocean State and public servant for three decades, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is not afraid to take on the big banks and scam artists who try take advantage of Rhode Islanders.

Peter has always been an aggressive advocate for consumers, because he understands the hardships that the economic downturn has caused for Rhode Islanders. For more than two decades—as a police officer, prosecutor, and elected official, as well as a husband and father—Peter has fought to make Rhode Island a safer, more livable place to raise a family.

As a watchdog for Rhode Island consumers, Peter took on Wall Street, holding lenders accountable for foreclosure abuses and mortgage servicing practices. He announced Rhode Island’s participation in the landmark national mortgage settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage service providers, and the settlement brought in more than $150 million in benefits and relief to Rhode Island homeowners. A major settlement with Ocwen later brought an additional $10 million dollars in relief to homeowners and upheld Peter’s promise to continue his investigations into Wall Street banks that led the country into a financial crisis.

Peter has also been a leader on consumer issues, including the fight against mortgage modification scams, which take advantage of our most vulnerable residents—he’s even successfully shut down several fraudulent companies. He’s warned consumers of an ongoing medical alert scam, “mobile cramming,” and hosted free mortgage foreclosure prevention and loan modification scam awareness workshops. Peter also joined 29 other states in reaching a $29 million settlement with the Toyota Motor Corporation, of which RI will receive $510,000, regarding safety issues with unintended acceleration.

Since taking office, Peter has aggressively fought to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for illegal and deceptive marketing practices and made Big Pharma pay more than $20 million to the state’s coffers and Medicaid program and ordered reforms in marketing practices. He’s successfully won settlements with drug companies such as Ranbaxy and Amgen, Inc. for their distribution of adulterated drugs and for reporting inflated pricing data. These settlements brought in more than $340,000 in benefits and relief to Rhode Islanders.

Peter joined other state attorneys general in the fight against companies that utilize deceptive marketing practices, and together, they successfully reached settlements worth $42.9 million with Pfizer, $90 million with GlaxoSmithKline, and $181 million with Janssen Pharmaceutical.

With a dramatic increase in identity theft and data breaches with consumer brands, Peter has initiated several law-enforcement training programs, giving police the tools they need to track down those who operate criminal enterprises from behind a computer screen. He’s also holding giant retailers accountable for data breaches that may compromise customer information.

Education is the best way to prevent Rhode Islanders from becoming victims of scam artists, which is why Peter has led community seminars to educate seniors on identify theft and hosted shred-a-thons to protect Rhode Islanders’ private information.

Peter will continue to fight against those who would take advantage of Rhode Islanders, to serve as an aggressive advocate for consumers, and to provide the leadership we need when up against powerful interests like banks and insurance companies. [4]

—Peter Kilmartin's campaign website, (2014) [6]


Dawson Hodgson

I have been a leading advocate for the creation of an independent commission to investigate the 38 Studios loan deal.

The 38 Studios experience represents a historic destruction of public resources in Rhode Island, and seriously undermines public confidence in our state government. Projected to cost the people of this state over $100 million before it’s over, the taxpayer outlay in 38 Studios is second only to the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corporation (RISDIC) crisis in magnitude.

Beyond the financial loss, the matter is a stain on our state’s reputation that will not just go away because it’s ignored by those responsible. Citizens of Rhode Island deserve a full and transparent accounting of the circumstances surrounding the inception, execution, and aftermath of the 38 Studios scandal. Only by engaging in a thorough, public review of this transaction will we be able to move past this mess. Such an exercise is long overdue.

During the 18 months since the spectacular collapse of Curt Schilling’s video game company, our elected officials have responded to public outrage with a reluctant trickle of disclosures that can be best characterized as piecemeal, opaque and completely devoid of self-scrutiny.

The House Oversight Committee has collected some documents related to the deal, although it is unlikely to take testimony from those involved. The Senate Oversight Committee flatly refuses to act in any manner, having deemed the whole affair just “too political.” Atty. Gen. Peter Kilmartin, who voted for the program when he was a state representative, now states that he will not lead any investigation into this matter.

The only legal action to date has come from the governor, who filed a contingency fee lawsuit that promises to stretch out well past the next election. The governor’s suit may one day provide a limited measure of financial recovery from this debacle. However, it promises little of value in informing the public of how their leaders created the problem, nor any assurances the responsible parties will not be permitted to do it again.

An honest, forthright review of the legislature’s central role in creating this scandal is essential to understanding its composition. However, the inability, or unwillingness, of State House insiders to police themselves becomes more apparent every day.

Accordingly, I have submitted a proposal to my colleagues in the General Assembly to create an independent commission to investigate and recommend a course of action regarding 38 Studios and other recent publicly funded loan-guarantee scandals.

This legislation is patterned after the select commission created by the General Assembly in 1991 to provide a similar accounting after the RISDIC scandal. My proposal allows wide latitude to expose negligence or malfeasance in matters involving the transfer of public resources to private hands through various loan-guarantee programs.

The goal of this effort is to build a collaborative and bipartisan coalition across both chambers of the legislature to put such a framework for accountability in place. Swift passage of the Independent Commission bill, and efficient prosecution of its mandate, can resolve this crisis of public confidence in a timely manner. Armed with a full understanding of how this scandal came to be, rank-and-file legislators (and the people who elect them) can make informed choices on the various issues that radiate from this scandal, such as assigning responsibility, choosing legislative leaders, and making annual budget appropriations to pay off the debt.

Perhaps most importantly, knowing exactly how this happened will help ensure it never happens again. Rhode Islanders work too hard for their money to have it squandered like this. [4]

—Dawson Hodgson's campaign website, (2014) [7]

Peter Kilmartin

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin continues to lead the fight against government waste and corruption by prosecuting officials who violate the public trust, going after scofflaws who cheat the system, and making government more transparent and efficient.

For some candidates, rooting out corruption is a slogan. For Peter, it’s been one focus of his life’s work: he understands that Rhode Islanders are struggling to get by in a bad economy—and that corruption scandals waste taxpayer money and reduce the public's trust in government.

The results speak for themselves. From prosecuting a former police chief for larceny and conspiracy to taking on a former State Senator for embezzlement and conspiracy, Rhode Islanders can rest assured that Peter will apply the law evenly—without fear of or favor all those who break the law.

Reaffirming his commitment to root out fraud and abuse in government , Peter established a confidential tip line to report disability pension fraud and an online, anonymous means for people to report Medicaid fraud and abuse. Working with the Department of Labor and Training and the Rhode Island State Police, he has aggressively prosecuted scofflaws who steal taxpayer dollars through unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation fraud.

Believing that transparency, accountability, and participation are the building blocks of open government, Peter successfully led the charge to amend the state’s Access to Public Records Act—its first major revision in more than 15 years—which earned Rhode Island a #1 ranking from the Better Government Association.

Peter also holds public bodies accountable for violating the Open Meetings Act: he’s filed multiple lawsuits on behalf of private citizens against public bodies who failed to maintain the highest level of transparency, and a recent Providence Journal editorial praised him for his aggressive commitment to open government and transparency,

Peter believes that the electoral process should be in the hands of the people, not in the back pockets of special interests. Citing concerns about unlimited contributions and special-interest groups, Peter called on Congress to reverse the Citizens United decision and signed an Amicus Brief asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision regarding political advertising.

As Attorney General, Peter has cracked down on government corruption and worked to restore trust in Rhode Island government. He has pursued criminals statewide—not just on the street but in boardrooms and under the State House dome as well, and he’ll continue to use all of the powers of the Attorney General’s office to prosecute those who violate the public trust. [4]

—Peter Kilmartin's campaign website, (2014) [8]


General election
All candidates

Attorney General of Rhode Island
Poll Peter Kilmartin* (D) Dawson Hodgson (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
October 6-9, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

**Incumbency is denoted by asterisk (*)

Past elections


On November 2, 2010, Peter F. Kilmartin won election to the office of Rhode Island Attorney General. He defeated Erik B. Wallin (R), Christopher H. Little (MOD), Keven A. McKenna (I) and Robert E. Rainville (I) in the general election.

Rhode Island Attorney General, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPeter F. Kilmartin 43.1% 141,969
     Republican Erik B. Wallin 29% 95,541
     Moderate Party Christopher H. Little 14.4% 47,328
     Independent Keven A. McKenna 9.6% 31,721
     Independent Robert E. Rainville 4% 13,045
Total Votes 329,604
Election Results Via: Rhode Island Board of Elections


On November 7, 2006, Patrick C. Lynch won re-election to the office of Rhode Island Attorney General. He defeated J. William W. Harsch (R) in the general election.

Rhode Island Attorney General, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPatrick C. Lynch Incumbent 59.5% 225,824
     Republican J. William W. Harsch 40.5% 153,675
Total Votes 379,499
Election Results Via: Rhode Island Board of Elections


On November 5, 2002, Patrick C. Lynch won election to the office of Rhode Island Attorney General. He defeated J. William W. Harsch (I) in the general election.

Rhode Island Attorney General, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPatrick C. Lynch 61.5% 191,488
     Independent J. William W. Harsch 38.5% 119,717
Total Votes 311,205
Election Results Via: Rhode Island Board of Elections

Campaign finance

Comprehensive donor information for this election has been collected by Follow the Money. Based on available campaign finance records, the candidates raised a raised a total of $953,656 during the election. This information was last updated on April 6, 2015.[9]

Campaign Contribution Totals
Candidate Office Result Contributions
Peter KilmartinDemocratic Party Rhode Island Attorney General Won $492,696
Dawson HodgsonRepublican Party Rhode Island Attorney General Defeated $460,960
Grand Total Raised $953,656

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
June 25, 2014 Filing deadline
September 9, 2014 Primary election
November 4, 2014 General election
November 12, 2014 Last day for recount requests
January 6, 2015 Inaugurations for executive officials

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