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NEW: Mutiny Underway as Fox Boots O’Neill From Judiciary Committee

Thursday, March 14, 2013

 

Inside sources say move was retaliation for last night's controversial passing of an ethics commission bill from the committee.

House Speaker Gordon Fox has removed Rep. J. Patrick O'Neill from the House Judiciary Committee in a reported retaliation for the Pawtucket Democrat’s efforts last night to get a bill through the committee that would ask voters to restore the power of the RI Ethics Commission over the General Assembly through a constitutional amendment.

According to multiple inside sources, Fox was irate at O’Neill’s successful push to pass H 5498 through the 13-member committee as the bill was thought to be destined to be “held for further study.”

But O’Neill made the motion, much to the surprise of Committee Chairwoman Edie Ajello and it was immediately seconded by Republican Doreen Costa, leading to a dramatic scene in the State House.

“Well, once O’Neill put it out there, Costa seconded it and within five minutes, people from the leadership’s office were downstairs,” a member of the House of Representatives said. “They actually called some people into Speaker Fox’s office to explain how this could have happened.”

The source went on to say that a loud argument could be heard from within the office and that the chain of events led directly to today’s decision to remove O’Neill.

“Patty O'Neill got booted off the judiciary because Speaker Fox didn’t like the fact that a bill got passed out of committee last night without his approval,” the source said. “It’s strictly because of last night. He was extremely upset, extremely upset. But Speaker Fox has got to realize that most of the people on that committee voted that bill out too so not only did Patty O’Neill go against Speaker Fox, so did more than half of that judiciary committee because they had enough votes to pass it.”

The source said many members in the House believe it’s a “power trip” that will lead to a mutiny within the House leadership.

“It’s Speaker Fox being Speaker Fox,” the source said. “If you don’t go along with Speaker Fox, you get nothing, you get absolutely nothing. He thinks he’s a dictator and he has way, way too much power.”

The source believes there is “more to come,” and that Fox is “losing his reins” on control of the House.

“It’s not just Patty O’Neill,” the source said. “I could probably name a dozen more.”

The source concluded that today’s chain of events is just further proof that, they believe, Fox has an agenda against those who voted against him as Speaker.

“He said during opening day that whether you voted with him or against him that he will listen to everybody and give everybody a fair share but if you look at all the bills that have come to the house floor, not one person that voted against speaker fox for leadership will get a bill passed and has no bills passed,” the source said. “He’s a man of no integrity.” 

Fox spokesman Larry Berman would neither confirm nor deny that O'Neill was removed from the House Judiciary Committee in retaliation for getting the ethics bill passed and said that committee assignments are the Speaker's "prerogative."

"Committees do get adjusted from time to time," Berman said, adding that Rep. Dennis Canario will take O'Neill's place..

 

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