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EDITORIAL: It’s Time for Ethics Commission to Look at Smiley, Inc.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Infographic of Smiley's complex web of holdings

Brett Smiley is Governor Gina Raimondo’s Chief of Staff. Simultaneously, he owns multiple political consulting businesses that operate in Rhode Island

Clients of his companies include dozens of elected officials and candidates that come before and negotiate with the Governor on any range of public and political issues.

The tangled web of Smiley’s private political businesses touch de facto every aspect of government business.

“Smiley's continued ownership of the firm raises the questions that have yet to be answered. In the past we've told GoLocal that Common Cause believes Smiley should seek an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission with respect to his continued ownership of the consulting firm,” said John Marion, head of Rhode Island Common Cause in a GoLocal article earlier this month.

State law states:

R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5 Prohibited Activities.

(a) No person subject to this Code of Ethics shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business, employment, transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties or employment in the public interest and of his or her responsibilities as prescribed in the laws of this state, as defined in section 36-14-7.

If serving in the public sector as a Governor’s Chief of Staff -- and simultaneously owning private political consulting businesses that are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees by the very people that come before your office is not a violation -- then what is a conflict?

One of Smiley's company's websites - while he was Governor's Chief of Staff


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