There is corruption and than there is Rhode Island style corruption. It is certainly no secret that Governor Dan McKee and WPRO’s Dan Yorke are friends, golf buddies, fancy themselves the kings of Cumberland with a booth always ready for them at Phantom Farms ( if that means anything). During the pandemic, LT Governor McKee was a frequent guest on WPRO (at times almost daily) with his tale of woe how the mean Gina Raimondo would not give him the time of day and his pal Yorke would sing his praises and take aim at Gina. The two have now entered a dynamic that is without precedent in local broadcasting with Yorke now admitting he has become a campaign worker for the McKee for Governor campaign. What does that mean? What type of work? Door knocking? Phone calls? Handing out signs? Yorke and WPRO seem to believe it is all above board because Yorke claims he is not paid and does not hide his support for McKee. But is it ethical? Could it be considered an In-kind contribution that has been unreported by the McKee campaign? Yorke is not a host who happens to want to vote for Governor Dan McKee, he is a McKee campaign worker who acts as a radio surrogate for the candidate. None of the Democrat candidates for Governor were featured guests on the Yorke show and McKee is never a guest. Why would McKee need to be a guest when his staffer defends the campaign and blocks out other candidates? Yorke is no longer working for WPRO ( or CH 12) he is working for McKee with a radio show. This is not a matter of equal time for the radio station but more about McKee not claiming an in-kind donation from a campaign worker.
What is Ashley Kalus supposed to do? Should a Kalus campaign worker be given equal access to the radio station? It is true and common that talk hosts have become friendly with public officials and candidates running for office. Gina Raimondo hired several local writers, Steve Kass went to work for Governor Carcieri and Jim Taricani left WJAR to work for Linc Almond. But a campaign worker on the air weekdays with a three hour show is a first, and hardly fair or ethical. You can certainly picture the two Dans laughing and thinking they are so much smarter than Ashley and the rest of the state to pull this off and simply say, “Ashley can come on and get equal time, lol!” But could McKee accept free gas from a campaign staffer? Free rent for a headquarters for the campaign from a campaign worker? We asked Ashley Kalus who may want to look at this as a Dan McKee campaign staff issue.