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Mattiello Takes Control of the House

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Speaker Mattiello

"The king is dead, long live the king" has never been more apropos than on Tuesday's coronation of Nick Mattiello as Rhode Island Speaker of the House.

By mid-morning last Friday, Speaker Gordon Fox's life was in turmoil. Federal investigators were raiding his office. By 12 noon, his Majority Leader, Nick Mattiello, was already lining up votes. As GoLocal's news team Tweeted at 2 pm -- just four hours after the raid on the State House's Third Floor began -- "Multiple members of the House have confirmed that Fox is out and Mattiello will have the votes."

It was that quick - the changing of the guard took just hours.

At the rise of the House on Tuesday, Mattiello swept to victory, pilling up the votes and crushing Representative Mike Marcello 61 to 6. Six abstained and two members failed to vote.

"I commend the Rhode Island House of Representatives for ensuring that government continues to move forward and remains focused on key issues. By persisting in our efforts to support education and workforce development, build infrastructure, help cities and towns, and lower energy costs, together we have developed the necessary momentum for Rhode Island’s recovery," said Governor Lincoln Chafee minutes after the House vote.

The Mattiello victory was sweeping and sets forth a new agenda for the House of Representatives. GOP members teamed with Mattiello, and Fox's legacy -- and loyal progressive -- were poised to be sent to the back bench.

Reaction to the New Leader

From Mattiello leadership team members to top lobbyists to dissidents there was a consensus - Mattiello has a mandate.

Mattiello himself pledged a new day of inclusiveness in the House. Addressing the chamber on Tuesday, the new Spaker said, "Anyone in the House will be able to get a meeting with me in 3 days. If it's important, call my secretary, and we'll get you in that day."

The new Speaker later joked, "I just hope that I don't get 74 members looking to meet on day one."

Dissident Rep. John Lombardi said, "All eyes are on Mattiello. I'm glad he talked about economy and jobs, but what can you do in 3 months? That's a tall order. It''ll be about the budget, but the power is going to the Senate. We only have 3 months now."

Rep. John Lombardi

"It's going to be busy starting tomorrow for sure. There's more organizing to do, we have 3 months left -- we have a lot in front of us. I think there's nothing negative to say from today. We're unified, we'll be working together. The Republicans will be supporting the new Speaker. I think you'll see a lot of good hard work coming for economic development....all of the Reps are interested in that," said new leadership team member Rep. Joe Almeida.

The theme of lack of time left in the session and the amount of work ahead of the new Speaker was echoed by former Senate Minority Leader and now super lobbyist, Bob Goldberg, "I'm very sad for Gordon Fox and his family, I can't emphasize that enough. With any change in leadership, it always brings change, everyone has their own style. The Speaker was very serious about doing what he can to improve the economy," said Goldberg. "He'll be open to new ideas -- but it is late in the game, we're almost at April 1."




Related Slideshow: Fox Scandal: Winners and Losers

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Peter F, Neronha, U.S. Attorney

The bold action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation coupled with Internal Revenue Service investigators raiding the Speaker of the House's office was a major statement by federal authorities.

The investigation tied to now-former Speaker Fox sets expectations of a far broader probe.

Neronha has also indicted developer Richard Baccari and was key to the http://www.golocalprov.com/news/9949/">Google Settlement that brought $230 million to Rhode Island. 

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Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed


Generally, the Senate President plays second fiddle to the Speaker of the House, but with a new Speaker to be voted on as early as Tuesday, Paiva Weed's influence will shoot up in the transition.


She will be more influential in the budget process.


Look for Paiva Weed to make a move on controlling the Joint Committee on Legislative Services - the proverbial legislative grab bag for jobs and grants.

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Majority Leader Nick Mattiello


As GoLocal Tweeted on Friday, the Cranston Representative and Majority Leader has the edge to take control of the House.


Mattiello (as of Sunday Night) has approximately 40 votes and the momentum necessary to replace Fox.


Mattiello has strong support from former Speaker and lobbyist Bill Murphy. A Mattiello Speakership may cause a big shake up in Committee Chairs and senior staffing.

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Former Speaker Bill Murphy


Murphy and Fox worked together for more than a decade and their relationship had both ups and downs. Nick Mattiello, if elected Speaker, is a close ally to former Speaker Bill Murphy.


Murphy had served as Speaker from 2003 to 2010. The former legislator has a successful criminal defense practice and is a lobbyist for notable clients (2013) for UTGR (Twin River), Advance America Cash Advance, and the Brotherhood of Correction Officers.


Murphy will emerge as an ever greater influencer with Mattiello as Speaker.

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Gina Raimondo


The resignation by Gordon Fox is a political hit to the General Treasurer who went big for Fox in his surprisingly tough re-election against story teller Mark Binder.


Binder hit Fox both for his role in 38 Studios and his legal work for PEDP applicants.


Raimondo decided to publicly support Fox and walk his district with the embattled Speaker.


It should be noted that Providence Mayor Angel Taveras also supported Fox, but Raimondo claims to be the reformer in this race.

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Fox's Committee Chairs (if Mattiello wins)


Fox loyalists who have pledged their support to Michael Marcello will be in trouble as will their agendas if Mattiello is in fact elected Speaker on Tuesday. 


Committee Chairs like Helio Mello, Edith Ajello, and Arthur "Doc" Corvese might all be replaced as they backed Marcello. 

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Providence's Budget


For the past decade, Providence could always count of Gordon Fox to help bail the Providence Budget out of trouble.


From Finance Committee Chair, then-Majority Leader and ultimately-Speaker, Providence Mayors knew that Fox -- the Mount Hope section of Providence Representative -- would increase aid to Providence in one way or another. 


Providence always found an extra few millions from Fox. That access is likely to end in 2014 further impacting the City of Providence's budget issues.

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Legalization of Marijuana


The pieces were falling together for the effort to pass legislation to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island. Speaker Fox was a social progressive. Judiciary Committee Chair Edith Ajello, who may lose her post in the power shift, was the legislation's sponsor and in command of the key committee.


In addition, Governor Lincoln Chafee has voiced support for the idea.


But, a shift to a more conservative Mattiello would throw a barrier in the way to a 2014 passage.


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Does it really matter which Democrat is piloting the sinking ship?

Comment #1 by Marie Dawn Christie on 2014 03 26

Rather than "the king is dead...long live the king" the more appropriate slogan for this story would seem to me is..."the more things change...the more they stay the same". So the minority caucus in the House decided to go with Mattiello because he is more conservative...right? Well...haven't they been screaming for years about one party control...autocratic leadership denying their legislation a hearing in committee never mind a vote on the floor...the party lever and on and on? For historical purposes...the answer to that question is a resounding yes and goes back more than 25 years when there were twice as many Republicans in the House than there are today. Yes...there were...loook it up! So rather than throw their vote to the faction that promised to open the process and make it more transparent...to in the words of Rep. Marcello bring bills to the floor that even the Speaker may disagree with...the minority chose the status quo candidate. Do you honestly think Rep. Mattiello will give a rat's hind to any minority legislation...report or concerns? If so people...you're not in Kansas anymore! And you wonder why you are still in the minority!!!

Comment #2 by Thomas Kolodziejczak on 2014 03 26

It appears that "Frankie the Hammer" was urged onward.... "Pour encouragger les autres".

Comment #3 by G Godot on 2014 03 26

Perhaps we'll see a new chairperson of House Jud who has seen and can understand theinside of a lawbook.

Comment #4 by G Godot on 2014 03 26

I agree the House Republicans made a political mistake by associating themselves with the new Speaker. First, they associate themselves with all the abuses to come, insider patronage, secret budget deals, a last minute rush with the rules suspended, and all the disappointing status quo in the budget. Second, by siding with the candidate explicitly anti-reform (think master lever, Inspector General, ethics oversight...) they undermine the GOP claim to be the party of "good government." We've already been thru this when Minority Leader Salisbury helped bring Harwood to power, what good did that do for the GOP? An opposition party should not be voting for any Democratic Speaker.

Comment #5 by barry schiller on 2014 03 26

All those who contributed so willingly and generously to Foxy, et al in return for "influence" will find, sadly, that the register has been reset to ZERO. Ain't it awful.

Comment #6 by G Godot on 2014 03 26

The local GOP hacks, instead of whining about why 5 of them couldn't exert any influence (despite what the trouble making felon from Providence repeats ad nausem) would be better served to FIND SOME BLEEPIN candidates for the FALL. You CAN'T beat SOMEBODY with NOBODY. We'll know the GOP fate for next two years as soon as they DON'T file candidates in 3/4 of the districts. Don't WHINE, do something about it.
Get some folks who aren't comatose hacks. The democrats, whatever we think of them, are under NO obligation to run an AA proigram for what passes for a "GOP" in this state.

Comment #7 by G Godot on 2014 03 26

We are going nowhere..The democrats hate the private sector,they're all about big government and control,they don't want anything to do with a thriving,self sustaining populace that competes with them. Democrats thrive on the underclass,the undocumented and entitlement recipients,and the hard working middle class pays for it all and also punches the ticket for these corrupt,election stealing politicians to get into office and then remain there for years!..And that's how the game works and that's why this state ain't goin' nowhere. So Mattiello it up everybody! It's all the same shit..It's their party and you ain't invited!, lol! and you paid for it!

Comment #8 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 03 27

It's a small state with a shrinking pie and if you don't want to grovel to the political hacks for some crumbs, ya gotta leave. All the "GOP" heavys really want is the Governor's office, weak as it may be, because of the access it allows to the Department of Administration and the largess which flows from there.

Comment #9 by G Godot on 2014 03 29

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