The ill-fated 38 Studios loan guarantee took up the biggest block of time during the Oct. 21 Providence Journal-WPRI-12 debate between the three candidates for Rhode Island governor, and part of the focus was Donald Carcieri, the former Republican governor who shepherded the deal.
Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republican Allan Fung sparred over who had fought hardest against the loan.
Raimondo said she fought the deal from the beginning, but said Fung, who was Cranston’s mayor at the time, "was silent." Then she went a step further.
"In fact," Raimondo said, "a week ago, he was campaigning with Governor Carcieri, the architect of this."
Fung's response a few minutes later: "Governor Carcieri has not been campaigning with me, so that's false."
It would be surprising if the two had campaigned together because Carcieri, who is widely criticized for his role in the 38 Studios deal, has been keeping a low profile.
Because Fung had the last word in the exchange, we decided to assess his denial.
We were also motivated by a "fungfacts Fact Check" news release from Rhode Island Democratic Party spokesman Peter Baptista, which claimed to prove that Fung lied.
The news release said Carcieri attended a fundraiser for Fung that featured Mitt Romney and noted that Carcieri was on Fung’s gubernatorial exploratory committee.
We know it can be difficult to prove that something didn't happen, but here are the facts.
Carcieri did attend the Oct. 16 fundraiser for Fung that featured Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate, who served as Massachusetts' governor from 2003 to 2006.
But most people would define campaigning with someone as being out and about with the candidate, meeting people, shaking hands, and trying to convince them to vote for the candidate and/or give money.
Serving on an exploratory committee or attending a fundraiser as a spectator does not constitute campaigning with a candidate, at least not in the way Raimondo made it sound.
Fung spokesman Robert Coupe said, "Governor Carcieri contributed to the campaign and he attended the lunch with Governor Romney last week. He has had no 'role' in the campaign. Prior to Mayor Fung's announcement, Governor Carcieri was a member of the exploratory committee."
We also contacted Carcieri directly.
"Both my wife and I have contributed to Allan and support him, but that's the whole extent. I have not campaigned with him," the former governor said. "I know what campaigning is. I did enough of it."
Carcieri said he went to the event to see Romney "because Mitt and I go back to when we first came into office together, and we worked very closely together as New England governors. I was a big supporter for both of his runs for the presidency, and I hadn't seen him or talked to him in a while, so it was an opportunity to catch up and visit a little bit, which we did."
We asked the Raimondo campaign if they had any better evidence that, for example, Carcieri addressed the crowd at the fundraising event.
Spokeswoman Nicole Kayner produced a photo taken outside the Providence Biltmore of Carcieri going in, and cited a report in The Providence Journal that said: "Through the closed doors of the ballroom, cheers followed mention of both Fung’s name and that of the state’s last Republican governor, Donald Carcieri."
But that’s pretty weak evidence for a loaded claim.
In summary, we could find no convincing evidence that former Gov. Donald Carcieri has been campaigning with Allan Fung.
Until we do, we rate Fung's statement True.