Ten Things to Know About Gallison Scandal & Federal Investigation
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
And here's what you need to know.
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Rhode Island Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello confirmed on the floor on Tuesday that Gallison resigned due to "personal legal problems" -- and that the Feds are involved.
"I don't know the specifics of Mr. Gallison's legal concerns and I know that there is a federal investigation and other than rumors of broad areas of investigation I am not someone who believe in them nor will I comment on them," said Mattiello.
Related Slideshow: Ten Things to Know About Gallison Scandal
Mattiello Says Cancelled Fundraiser Was Tip-Off That Something Was Up
While rumors had been mounting recently at the State House regarding Gallison’s ties to a prostitution scandal, Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello told reporters on Tuesday that he was first tipped off to something being amiss after learning last Thursday that Gallison canceled an upcoming fundraiser on short notice.
According to campaign finance reports, Gallison had just under $10,000 cash on hand as of the last filing period. He ran unopposed in both the Democratic primary and General Election in 2014.
Mattiello and Gallison Met on Sunday — at Newport Creamery
Mattiello said that he met with Gallison on Sunday at the Newport Creamery in Cranston, to discuss the beleaguered [now former] legislative leader’s legal issues - and ultimately his resignation from his elected position.
Also present at the Sunday meeting was Mattiello’s Chief-of-Staff Leo Skenyon; the official resignation letter from Gallison to Mattiello made public on Tuesday, and was dated Tuesday May 3.
Recent Hometown Hero
Just last year, Gallison, a Bristol resident, had been the Bristol 4th of July Parade's Chief Marshal.
The coveted position is an honor, as the parade is part of the oldest Independence Day celebration in the country (with the year Gallison served marking the 230th annual Independence Day celebration in Bristol.)
Gallison Had Been Previously Cited, Fined by Ethics, Board of Elections
In 2007, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission docked Gallison with a civil penalty of $6,000 after he failed to disclose his employment with The College Readiness Program.
Gallison was fined $1,600 by the state's Board of Elections earlier this year for misrepresention of campaign contributions.
Gallison’s Lawyer Tied to Corso - and Patriarca
As GoLocal reported on Tuesday, Gallison engaged the legal services of criminal defense attorney Anthony M. Traini.
The same Traini has represented Michael Corso before the Secretary of State’s office regarding improper lobbying activity around 38 Studios and has represented at least one defendant with ties to the Patriarca crime family.
Mattiello Confirms Investigation -- State Police, U.S. Attorney’s Office Mum
On Monday, news broke that Gallison was going to be resigning from his post amidst criminal allegations.
Mattiello put rumors to bed on Tuesday by confirming on the House floor that a federal investigation into Gallison's affairs is indeed taking place (Mattiello stopped short of what sources are saying, and that is a federal grand jury is currently underway).
Top local law enforcement offices unsurprisingly were less than forthcoming on Tuesday, with both Jim Martin in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. Steven O’Donnell telling GoLocal they had no comment on the matter at this time.
Ethics Now Under Greater Scrutiny
Proponents for an ethics amendment in the state — to restore oversight of General Assembly members to the State Ethics Commission — are touting this week’s latest developments as prover proof for the need for action to be taken this year.
“All fifty states outlaw legislators’ conflicts-of-interest, but Rhode Island is one of a small number where citizens cannot file complaints against state representatives and senators for specific conflicts. Seven years ago, the state Supreme Court immunized members of the General Assembly against prosecution for their 'core legislative duties.' This huge loophole prevents the Ethics Commission from investigating or prosecuting 113 state legislators. Meanwhile, thousands of other public officials across Rhode Island remain accountable and subject to fines up to $25,000 for each specific violation,” said historian and author H. Philip West Jr. who is the former head of Common Cause RI.
Democratic State Senator James Sheehan, who has been pushing for legislation to pass this session, weighed in on Tuesday.
“I think that Rhode Island has been ripe. Public and elected officials have been working hard to improve the state's economy, and what goes hand in glove with that is a government's responsibility to maintain a level playing field,” said Sheehan. “The public needs to feel their elected officials are playing the rules. We need to restore the public's trust. What's disconcerting is it's human nature that we need to follow rules. In an atmosphere without rules you'll see a disintegration of conduct."
Mattiello to Closely Scrutinize Legislative Grants
Gallison lists being on staff of Alternative Educational Programming Inc., a mentoring program that over the past ten years has gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars through community service grants from the House Finance Committee (which he had chaired up until this week.)
In the wake of Gallison’s resignation, Mattiello said he will be reviewing the grant process - and possibly cutting out small community groups that lack a sufficient “administration” capacity.
“Right now we’re doing an audit of them,” said Mattiello on Tuesday. “Some of the smaller organizations that don’t have the necessary administrative systems, I have concerns with. You’ll see grants being cut out, the smaller ones I might get rid of.”
On Monday, GoLocal reported that Rep. Marvin Abney would be assuming the chairmanship of the House Finance Committee after Gallison resigned.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Mattiello announced over a half dozen appointments, with Abney being just one.
* Rep. Patricia Serpa, Chairwoman, Oversight Committee
* Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, Chairwoman, Small Business Committee (Vice, Rep. Serpa)
* Rep. Robert Jacquard, Speaker Pro Tempore
* Rep. Gregory Costantino, Deputy Majority Leader (Vice, Rep. Jacquard)
* Rep. Raymond Johnston, Deputy Majority Leader (Vice, Rep Abney)
* Rep. Michael Morin, Member, House Finance Committee (Vice, Moren, HEW)
Seat Stays Empty
Because Gallison is stepping down when he is, there will be no special election to replace him prior to November.
If the vacancy occurs after the first Monday in February in the second year of the biennial period for which a general assembly was chosen, no warrant shall be issued for a special election to fill the vacancy.
So under state law, there will not be a special election to fill Gallison’s seat because he is resigning after the first Monday in February of an election year. All 113 General Assembly seats will be on the ballot in November.
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