Tracking Governor Chafee's promises

Lincoln Chafee at a Nov. 3, 2010, news conference
Lincoln Chafee at a Nov. 3, 2010, news conference

Every politician makes dozens of promises throughout a campaign and Lincoln Chafee is no exception.

From the day he announced his candidacy in January, Chafee made promises to voters on issues as diverse as illegal immigration and state pension plans.

But will he keep them?

Today, PolitiFact Rhode Island launches a new feature designed to answer that question.

It's modeled on the Obameter on the national PolitiFact site, which has been tracking the status of hundreds of promises Barack Obama made during his campaign for president. (The national site will also be rating promises made by congressional Republicans.)

We're calling ours the Linc-O-Meter. We combed through Chafee's campaign Web site, his news releases, his speeches and statements he made in debates to compile a list of  more than two dozen specific promises he made.

Over the coming months, we'll be monitoring how well he's done. While there's an element of humor in the Linc-O-Meter design, we take our mission seriously. We believe our readers want us to hold public officials accountable for what they say and what they do.

The new governor has already kept one of his promises, to convene a budget summit during his transition period. We're rating that one Promise Kept.

For now, the others are listed as Not Yet Rated. Periodically, we'll check in to rate his promises along a sliding scale on the Linc-O-Meter. The other categories are In the Works, Stalled, Compromise and Promise Broken.

The Linc-O-Meter won't take a stand on whether any of Chafee's promises are good ideas or bad, only whether he kept his word. And rulings will change, as Chafee's initiatives move through the political system.

Some of Chafee's promises were specific and keyed to certain dates. For example, he promised that on his first day in office, he'll issue an executive order on ethics and rescind Governor Carcieri's executive order on illegal immigration.

Other promises were broader. For example, Chafee vowed to "simplify the business tax system." And he said he promised to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Those promises will take more time to keep.

We'll keep an eye on all of Chafee's promises. If you remember any that aren't on our list, send them to us at [email protected]