PROVIDENCE, R.I -- Governor-elect Lincoln D. Chafee has started to piece together his State House team.
For his chief of staff, he has chosen Patrick Rogers, the lawyer who chaired his campaign, came up with his winning "Trust Chafee'' campaign theme and famously told him the day after he lost his U.S. Senate seat in 2006 that he would be Rhode Island's next governor.
Rogers will double as head of the governor's legal office, according to Chafee spokesman Michael Trainor.
Chafee intends to bring a second trusted political adviser - Stephen Hourahan - to the State House with him as a "senior adviser to the governor,'' a newly created role that will include but not be limited to the duties held by policy directors in past administrations, Trainor said.
Over the last 24 hours, Chafee also cemented plans to bring lawyer Claire Richards back to the state government to work alongside Joseph K. "Kenny'' Alston, as lawyers in the governor's restructured legal office, reporting to Rogers. Both will have the title: legal counsel.
Richards quit Governor Carcieri's legal staff in 2007 after he chose Kernan "Kerry'' King, the GOP's failed candidate for lieutenant governor a year earlier, over her for the top job in his legal office. King, at that point, had not practiced law in 12 years.
Chafee's hiring decisions were confirmed by his spokesman, Michael Trainor.
Rogers, 45, worked in the U.S. Senate office of the governor-elect's father, the late John H. Chafee, between 1989-94, as a receptionist, driver and eventually legislative assistant, working on banking issues during Rhode Island's infamous credit-union collapse.
A graduate of LaSalle Academy, Holy Cross and Catholic University Law School, Rogers has been an East Providence councilman and municipal court judge. His is currently the Coventry town solicitor and a business lawyer at Edwards Angell Palmer and Dodge.
Hourahan's ties to the Chafee family go back nearly three decades. He was a volunteer on the elder Chafee's 1982 U.S. Senate campaign, and subsequent finance chairman, office manager and scheduler for the elder Chafee until his death in 1999. A year later, Hourahan managed the younger Chafee's winning campaign to keep the seat to which he had been appointed by then-Gov. Lincoln Almond after his father's death.
Hourahan spent the next six years as communications director and press secretary in the younger Chafee's U.S. Senate office in Washington, until his 2006 defeat. More recently, he has been the executive director of AIDS Project Rhode Island.
Alston was on the policy and finance committees for Chafee's winning gubernatorial campaign, while Richards recently joined his transition team.
A statement from the Chafee transition office sought to explain how the new legal office would work. It said: "A two-person Counsel structure will be employed to operate more efficiently and effectively than a single, traditional Executive Counsel, who typically would hand certain aspects of an issue down to subordinates; a two-person Counsel, by contrast, can address the entirety of an issue on a senior level.''
At the point Richards gave her notice in August 2007, she had worked in the executive branch's legal department for more than a decade.
She was, at different times, the second in command and chief of former Gov. Lincoln Almond's legal office, including a memorable stint when she was in the final weeks of pregnancy, worked right up until the last moment, and then within hours after having daughter Olivia Rose sent colleagues an email saying she would see them at the next Monday's senior staff meeting. Her sense of humor is legendary.
News of Richards' departure came the same day Carcieri announced that he had chosen King - over her - to replace executive counsel Andrew Hodgkin after his return to the private sector. (Hodgkin subsequently returned as Carcieri's chief of staff.)
When asked about selecting King over Richards for the top spot in his legal office, Carcieri responded: "I felt that Kerry could do the job that I wanted to get done." The administration nonetheless felt compelled to keep her on the governor's payroll for more than a year after she gave her notice to work on the state's legal filings in two high-profile Narragansett Indian rights cases, including a closely watched Charlestown land case that would find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Richards has more recently advised state agencies and private clients as a legal sole practitioner. Prior to entering state government in 1995, she was an associate with the Providence law firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder and an assistant director of admissions at Yale, her alma mater. In addition to her B.A. from Yale, Richards has a J.D. from the Duke University School of Law.
Alston was a corporate associate with the New York law firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae for six years, then deputy general counsel for Mortgageit, Inc., a New York mortgage bank, and as senior corporate counsel for Weight Watchers International.
He graduated from Brown University, where he earned a Watson Scholarship, and the University of Chicago Law School, where he worked with the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and was a law school association representative and member of the Black Law Students Association.