The Scoop: Ethics Commission Lawyer - Fox Investigation 90 Days

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


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Welcome to The Scoop, the 4 p.m. report on everything politics in Rhode Island – the inside daily report exclusively on

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Ethics Commission Votes to Investigate House Fox; Lawyer Grammit Expects Decision in 90 Days

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission voted today to authorize an investigation into an allegation made against House Speaker Gordon Fox that he violated ethics rules by not reporting income that he earned from legal work for the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) from 2005 to 2009.

Today’s vote was cast solely to determine whether the matter should be pursued and does not reflect the commission's determination of the merits of the complaint, Jason Grammit, attorney for the commission told GoLocal.

Grammit went on to say that although a typical ethics investigation can take up to 180 days, he expects the Fox investigation to be finished much sooner. Due to the nature of the complaint, the investigation should take roughly 90 days, Grammit told GoLocal.

According to Fox’s answer to the complaint submitted at this morning’s hearing, the Speaker did list PEDP earnings as a source of income during his years of contract work.

“PEDP contracted with Mr. Fox in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Mr. Fox listed PEDP as a source of income on his 2010, 2011 and 2012 Yearly Financial Statements filed with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. Following the end of 2012 Mr. Fox has performed no work for PEDP,” the answer to the complaint stated.    

As for the years addressed in the complaint, Fox arguesd that he did not list PEDP earnings because he was hired by the PEDP's private attorney and not by the agency itself. "He did not list PEDP because he believed that he did not need to list a state or municipal agency on the Yearly Financial Statements unless he received income from the agency," Fox's answer explained.  

If the complaint is deemed valid, Fox may be forced to amend his annual financial statements between 2005 and 2009 to reflect his PEDP earnings—a point which Fox agreed to in his respondent's answer.

Former Providence resident Judith Reilly filed the complaint.

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Block Still Considering Running as a Republican

GoLocal has confirmed that gubernatorial candidate and founder of Rhode Island’s Moderate Party Ken Block is still contemplating whether to run as a Republican in 2014.

“Yes, Ken is considering running as a Republican,” Matthew Schweich, Policy Director for Block, told GoLocal.

When pressed about whether Block’s possible Republican run would spell the end of the Moderate Party, Schweich told GoLocal that the campaign did not have any additional comments at this time.

Block, a Barrington businessman, founded the Moderate Party of Rhode Island in 2009. He previously ran as the Moderate Party’s candidate in 2010.

Block, who declared his candidacy in May, is currently the only official candidate in the state’s gubernatorial race. Other expected candidates include Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who launched an exploratory committee for Governor earlier this month, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

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Chafee Signs Bill Establishing Veterans’ Services Advisory Committee

Legislators and other state leaders were on hand at the State House yesterday as Governor Lincoln Chafee held a bill-signing ceremony for legislation creating the Veterans’ Services Strategic Plan (VSSP) advisory committee.

One such legislator, Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a bill co-sponsor, spoke to GoLocal about the need for this new committee.

“Departments have been providing services, but this advisory committee will make sure that the services that are needed are better prioritized,” Gallison told GoLocal. “The goal of the committee to gain more knowledge and understanding of what services are needed for veterans, particularly those who have just returned from active duty, and what obstacles need to be addressed. This committee will learn about the constantly changing needs for veterans in such areas as health care and employment. Some veterans own businesses and they may need assistance. Others need help with law enforcement and court matters.”

When asked whether Rhode Island’s veterans are an underserved population, Gallison said that the state does provide adequate services for veterans, but the organization of services could be better.

“Veterans are not underserved, but coordination of services could be improved between the veterans, the state government and the federal government,” Gallison told GoLocal. “For example, there are services that the federal government provides that veterans do not seem to know about. This committee will be able to ensure that the appropriate services are available.”

The 13-member advisory panel will be comprised of representatives of the Division of Veterans’ Affairs; Department of Human Services; Division of Planning; Board of Education; Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals; Department of Health; Division of Elderly Affairs; Department of Business Regulation; Office of the Attorney General; Department of Labor and Training; Economic Development Corporation; Department of Education, and Office of the Secretary of State.

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Tonight's Woonsocket Mayoral and City Council Forum and 1380 WNRI are co-sponsoring a "Meet the Candidates" forum tonight at 7 p.m. at Chan's Restaurant, which will be moderated by Jeff Gamache. The forum will feature Woonsocket Mayoral and City Council candidates.

The event will include a single question format where the same question will be asked to all incumbent City Council candidates and a different question will be asked of the new City Council candidates. In the Mayoral portion, candidates will each ask a question of opposing candidates in two separate rounds.

This is a free event and is open to the public.

The Mayoral candidates are Mayor Leo Fontaine, Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, David Fisher, Roland Michaud, and Michael Moniz.

City Council candidates include Christopher Beauchamp, Jeffrey Belknap, Albert Brien, Eric Cartier, Marc Dubois, Richard Fagnant, Daniel Gendron, Roger Jalette, Garret Mancieri, Anita McGuire-Forcier, Robert Moreau, Melissa Murray, Christopher Roberts, and John Ward.

The Woonsocket Mayoral and City Council primary will take place on October 8 and the election on November 5.

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Reed Leads Bipartisan Effort to Restore Federal Heating Aid

U.S. Senator Jack Reed is working to ensure that Americans who need heating assistance aren’t left out in the cold. Reed, along with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and a bipartisan group of 34 U.S. Senators are currently leading an effort to restore federal heating aid funds.

The group has sent a bipartisan letter urging a level of $3.46 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30, 2013. Without the Reed-Collins LIHEAP fix, the program could be reduced to as little as $2.82 billion during the cold winter months ahead.

“LIHEAP is a lifeline for nearly 32,000 Rhode Islanders and provides critical assistance to families and seniors struggling with high energy prices and a challenging economy. We need to do everything we can to ensure that families, especially those with children and elderly residents, can stay safe and warm this winter,” said Reed.

During his presidency, President Obama has proposed significant reductions to LIHEAP. This year, the President’s budget requested $2.97 billion for LIHEAP. This level of funding would cause Rhode Island to drop from about $23.9 million in LIHEAP funding to around $20.7 million and Maine’s LIHEAP aid would be reduced from $38.8 million to about $31.2 million.

Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.

Click here to read the Senators’ letter in its entirety.

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Cicilline’s Top 10 Donors - Unions Galore

Last week, we examined U.S. Congressman David Cicilline’s biggest campaign donors by industry and found that union are playing a major role in his reelection bid. Today, we take a look at the specific donors that are contributing the most to Cicilline’s war chest.

Here are the Congressman’s top 10 donors:

  • American Federation of Teachers: $10,000
  • American Crystal Sugar: $7,500
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $7,500
  • Waterson Terminal Services: $7,500
  • Crimsonrose Accessories: $5,200
  • AmeriPAC: The Fund for a Greater America: $5,000
  • Laborers Union: $5,000
  • Service Employees International Union: $5,000
  • Teamsters Union: $5,000
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Union: $5,000

Six of Cicilline’s top donors are unions, so look for them to come calling if the Congressman is reelected. Also worth noting is the contribution from Waterson Terminal Services, which is the managing operator at the Port of Providence. As reported by GoLocal yesterday, Waterson Terminal Services is also a primary contributor to the Rhode Island State Democratic Committee’s 2014 election fund.

Source of data:

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