Mattiello Takes Control of the House
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Fox Scandal: First Time State House Raided in RI History
- Fox Scandal: Winners and Losers
- NEW: Block Calls Out Raimondo, Taveras, Fung for Ties to Fox
- Legalized Marijuana in Jeopardy with Mattiello as Speaker
- NEW: Fox Fined $1500 by Ethics Commission for PEDP Non-Disclosure
- Chafee Answers Questions on Fox and Mattiello
- NEW: Sam Bell Declares for Fox’s House Seat
- 5 Reps Who Could Succeed House Speaker Gordon Fox
- NEW: Speaker Fox’s State House Office Raided by FBI, State Police
- BREAKING: Fox Resigns As Speaker of the House
- PODCAST: Fox Scandal - Winners and Losers
- Arthur Schaper: Speaker Fox In The Hen House
- RI State Report: Speaker Fox’s Home, Office Raided + Reaction