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6/19/2006
Rhode Island: Speed Cameras Part of Senate Campaign
Attack ads in the U.S. Senate primary campaign in Rhode Island bring up a bribery scandal involving speed cameras.

Attack ads in the campaign for the Republican nomination to become U.S. Senator for Rhode Island have brought the issue of speed cameras front and center. Incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee is defending his seat with new television and radio ads that accuse his challenger, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, of being bribed by a speed camera contractor.

"Laffey swore to fight special interests," the commercials say. "Instead, he gave a city vendor a secret no-bid contract in exchange for thousands in campaign contributions. Now Laffey's pledged never to vote for a tax increase. Believe that? Laffey: Watch what he does, not what he says."

In May 2005, Laffey had approved a no-bid contract with Nestor Traffic Systems that would have created a mobile speed camera ticketing operation -- the first of its kind in New England. Federal Election Commission records show that top officials with Nestor had donated $13,600 to Laffey's U.S. Senate campaign -- six percent of his warchest at the time. This coincided with the contract which would have provided the camera vendor a lucrative 30 percent bounty on every ticket issued. Laffey dropped the speed camera plan in November, denying any connection between the contributions and the contract.




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