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Saturday, November 3, 2012

UPDATED: Westerly Sun reveals criminal pasts of both opponents to Rep. Donna Walsh

UPDATED: Well, now you can REALLY compare the records
First time encounter for the three candidates - from left, Tina Jackson,
Kevin Prescott and Rep. Donna Walsh. They are scheduled to meet
again in Westerly on October 31 November 5, 6 PM Westerly Town

Council chambers
By Will Collette

UPDATE 4: The editors of the Westerly Sun have endorsed Donna Walsh for re-election, praising her work but ending the editorial by noting "She is the only legitimate candidate."

UPDATE 3: The Block Island Times has re-run Chris Keegan's Westerly Sun article on the criminal records of Tina Jackson Baker and Kevin Prescott.

UPDATE 2: GoLocalProv carries additional detail they dug up on the criminal pasts of the two opponents running against Rep. Donna Walsh. Included in the article is detail about how Jackson was recruited by the state GOP to run against Walsh.

UPDATE 1: The forum scheduled on Oct. 30 was postposed due to Hurricane Sandy. The new date is Monday, Nov. 5 at 6 PM at Westerly Town Hall.

Each time State Representative Donna Walsh has gone before the voters, she has said they should judge her on her record. That record shows Donna has spent most of her adult life in the service of the people of Charlestown and South County.

In her 2012 campaign for reelection, Donna faces two challengers, Republican Tina Jackson and independent Kevin Prescott. Both are first-time candidates, so they don’t have legislative records. However, as the Westerly Sun revealed on October 26, they do have records.

After looking at the long list of arrests for some pretty serious crimes, I compiled my own list using the free RI state court database as well as the pay-per-use Westlaw database. Jackson complained to the Westerly Sun that her arrest records were supposed to be expunged – but anyone with a computer can look them up. Or you can do what Chris Keegan did, and go and look at the actual court records at state court headquarters in Providence or the archives in Pawtucket.

Some records, mostly of her arrests for passing forged prescriptions for narcotics in Westerly, are no longer in the state court database, but they are still listed in Westlaw’s criminal database.

You should read the Sun article, and to make your reading easier, here is a table showing Jackson’s 17 arrests on over 40 different charges in seven jurisdictions ranging from Glocester to Westerly. Read Chris Keegan’s article for the details.

Tina Baker Jackson’s criminal record (sources: RI Judiciary,
What happened
Arrested on three counts – DUI, first offense; Simple assault; Eluding the police
July 2, 1993
Arrested on a fugitive from justice warrant
Oct. 25, 1993
Arrested – driving with a suspended license
Jan 6, 1994
Arrested – driving with a suspended license
June 26, 1995
Arrested – simple assault/domestic and felony assault
May 2, 1997
Arrested on five counts of attempting to purchase narcotics/Fraud
July 5, 2002
Arrested on four counts of attempting to purchase narcotics/Fraud
Aug 8, 2002
Arrested on three counts of attempting to purchase narcotics/Fraud
Oct 10, 2002
Arrested – Attempted to purchase narcotics/Fraud
Nov 21, 2002
Arrested on six counts of attempting to purchase narcotics/Fraud
Dec 23, 2002
Arrested – Attempted to purchase narcotics/Fraud
Feb 4, 2003
Arrested – Attempted to purchase narcotics/Fraud
Feb 5, 2003
Arrested on seven counts of attempting to purchase narcotics/Fraud
Feb 6, 2003
Arrested on three counts of passing bad checks at Rippy’s and for failure to appear
Nov 19, 2003
Arrested – driving with a suspended license
March 31, 2005
Arrested – driving with a suspended license
Apr 1, 2005
Arrested – driving with a suspended license
Oct 6, 2006

This isn’t all that you can find in the public records (especially Westlaw) on Tina Jackson. Westlaw files show that Jackson has a long history of failing to pay her taxes, failing to pay her creditors, and failing to even keep her lobbying business in good working order.

She failed to pay her Fire District taxes when she lived in Pascoag and the court issued a judgment against her. IRS took out a tax lien against her Charlestown house for federal taxes. It took her almost two years to resolve that mess.

In addition to passing bad checks at Rippy’s – for which she was arrested – several other creditors won civil judgments against her for unpaid bills. Plus, there have been other notable and very recent lapses in civic responsibility. Here’s what I found on Westlaw and on the RI Secretary of State’s database.

Tina Baker Jackson’s civil issues (sources:, RI Secretary of State)
What happened
Judgments (3) issued ordering payments to Dutchess County NY Dept of Social Services
Feb 1990
May 1995
Sept 1996
Poughkeepsie, NY
Total owed $3,756
Judgment issued for unpaid taxes to Pascoag Fire District
March 2001
$493 owed
Federal Tax Lien
Nov 2004
$3,144 - released upon payment, July 2006
Civil Judgments for unpaid bills
1997, 2001, 2002, 2003
Debts owed to M&M Oil ($1,114), Ocean State Veterinary ($797), Health Center of South County ($334) and Vladimir Kalajdzhyan ($500)
Charter revoked on American Alliance of Fishermen and their Communities
June 8, 2011
Reinstated May 14, 2012, after delinquent reports filed
Notice of revocation issued on AAFC for delinquent report.
Oct 15, 2012

Jackson claims to be a lobbyist for the American Alliance of Fishermen and their Communities (AAFC), and we know from Rep. Larry Valencia that she came in to oppose his legislation to levy a surtax on Rhode Island’s wealthiest citizens. 

However, Jackson is not listed in the Secretary of State’s lobbyist database. But seeing that she allowed the organization’s corporate charter to be revoked for failing to file reports, it’s not surprising that she would also fail to register as a lobbyist. Details, details.

Chris Keegan’s Westerly Sun article leads with the complaint by Kevin Prescott, who is also running against Donna Walsh, that Jackson tried to blackmail him into dropping out of the race. He told Keegan that Jackson flashed Prescott’s own criminal record and threatened to publicize it if Prescott failed to drop out. Tina Jackson told Keegan that she wasn’t really blackmailing Prescott but just trying to get him to drop out for his own good.

I wonder if she was surprised that Prescott wasn’t grateful.

Unfortunately for Prescott, he does indeed have a very serious criminal background that rivals Jackson’s. This, too, is detailed in Chris Keegan’s article. Again, for your reading convenience, here is a table to allow you to track the charges described in the Sun article.

Kevin Prescott’s record (sources: RI Judiciary,
What happened
Arrested: Breaking and entering/dwelling
Feb 26, 1992
Arrested: reckless driving
July 24, 1992
Arrested: DUI
Sep 7, 1995
Arrested: making a false 911 call
Feb 15, 1996
South Kingstown
Arrested: driving with a suspended license
Apr 28, 1998
North Kingstown
Arrested: Domestic assault
Sep 21, 1998
South Kingstown
Arrested: Reckless driving
Jan 1, 2004
Chesterfield, Virginia
Eviction – forcible entry, illegal detainer
Jun 13, 2005
Arrested: Illegal radar detector
Nov 21, 2006
Greensville, VA
Arrested: weapons possession
July 18, 2008
Arrested: (2 counts) carrying a weapon while intoxicated (felony); disorderly conduct
Sep 25, 2008
Arrested: Disorderly conduct
Oct 7, 2008
Probation violated
Oct 22, 2008
Bench warrants for failure to appear
Feb 19, 2009 and April 7, 2009

In the age of the internet, it is increasingly hard for people to escape scrutiny, especially when they choose to enter public life. When Tina Jackson and Kevin Prescott declared their candidacies for state representative, they invited that scrutiny.

One aspect of the story in the Sun that intrigued me is this – Tina Jackson used the free, internet-based RI Judiciary database to look up Kevin Prescott’s record. What she then did with that information is now a he-said, she-said dispute, and you can decide for yourself which one you want to believe.

But what I don’t understand is this: when Jackson was in the database looking up Prescott, why didn’t she look herself up?

Here’s another puzzler: Jackson told Chris Keegan that her criminal past should be overlooked because it was so long ago, as if 17 arrests over a thirteen-year stretch has no bearing on her character and fitness for office. However, Prescott’s offenses were also roughly in the same time frame and severity, and Jackson apparently felt it was serious enough to tell Prescott that he needed to drop out of the race.

So, if Jackson thought Prescott’s record was so terrible that he needed to withdraw, why should she expect to get a free pass?

Finally, I wonder if the CCA will give this article the same prominence in its recommended reading section as they did the puff piece that ran in the Block Island Times. Or are they still planning an 11th hour endorsement of Jackson after all.