Ethics Commission

Phil West, the longtime former director of Common Cause of Rhode Island, joins Bonus Q+A to talk about fallout from 38 Studios, the fight for better government, criminal-justice reform, and much more.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Longtime former Common Cause of Rhode Island head Phil West joins Political Roundtable to discuss the fallout from the release of thousands of pages of 38 Studios court documents.

House Majority Whip Jay Edwards (D-Tiverton) joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss the House budget; whether lawmakers should investigate 38 Studios; the criteria for considering a Providence ballpark; and much more.


Two bills meant to discourage the misuse of campaign accounts have cleared an initial hurdle at the General Assembly.  Efforts to restore the state Ethics Commission’s oversight of the legislature continue to languish.

Legislative committees have passed a bill requiring candidates to have a separate bank account for their campaign money. Another bill would make public officeholders file an annual bank statement to back up the information in their campaign spending reports.


Channel 12 reports the Providence Board of Licenses believes there’s not enough concrete evidence to revoke a liquor license for a bar that’s been implicated in a corruption probe. But Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he’s still looking into the matter.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

H. Philip West Jr. served as the executive director of Common Cause of Rhode Island for almost 20 years before stepping down in 2006. His tenure coincided with corruption in Governor Edward DiPrete’s administration, the state banking crisis, and high-profile battles over the Ethics Commission. West has turned his two decades observing Ocean State politics into a 684-page book called “Secrets and Scandals.” Rhode Island Public Radio Reporter Ian Donnis sat down with West to discuss the book and how much Rhode Island has changed.

John Bender / RIPR

Former delegates to the 1986 Constitutional Convention are speaking out against the event Rhode Islanders will vote on November 4th. 

1986 was the last time the state held a Constitutional Convention.  The state can hold one once every ten years, pending voter approval.  Delegates are elected to the convention which creates legislation then voted on by the public; bypassing the general assembly.  Critics say the delegates can be easily swayed by special interest groups, because they are not seeking reelection.  Tom Izzo was a delegate in 1986.

Richard Licht Judgeship Vote Expected For Tuesday

Jun 10, 2014

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote this Tuesday on a top state official’s nomination to be a Superior Court judge.  Richard Licht currently heads the state Department of Administration.

Governor Lincoln Chafee nominated Licht for the judicial post last month. If confirmed, Licht will take the place of retired Superior Court judge Judith Savage and earn close to 150-thousand dollars a year.

State Representative Michael Marcello (D-Scituate) joins Bonus Q+A to talk about his fight for the speakership with Nicholas Mattiello and a host of other issues, including guns, ethics, the budget outlook, and more.

Happy April, happy opening week of baseball, and thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As always, your tips and feedback are always welcome, and you can follow me through the week via the twitters. Let's head in.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and guest panelist Erika Niedowski of The Associated Press join Bonus Q+A this week to discuss changes in the RI House; the proposed pension settlement; whether the House should vote on a proposal to restore state Ethics Commission oversight of the General Assembly; and much more.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Common Cause of Rhode Island is giving qualified support to a new proposal introduced by state Senator James Sheehan (D-North Kingtown) to restore state Ethics Commission oversight of the General Assembly.

John Marion, executive director of Common Cause of Rhode Island, joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss improved technology in the General Assembly; the impact of super PACs in Rhode Island; the outlook for strengthening the state Ethics Commission; and many other issues.

Back in 2007, Gordon Fox said he didn't think his public office had been beneficial to his private law practice. The statement has some unintentional irony in the present, considering how Fox faces a state Ethics Commission investigation for not disclosing legal work done from 2005 to 2009 for the Providence Economic Development Partnership.

The state Ethics Commission on Tuesday decided to investigate a complaint filed against House Speaker Gordon Fox. The question is whether Fox needed to disclose legal work done for the City of Providence.

Jason Gramitt, a staff attorney for the Ethics Commission, calls the step taken by the commission "preliminary. The commission only looks at the complaint and decides whether or not it should authorize an investigation, and so that's all they've done. They didn't offer any opinion as to whether the complaint is a good complaint or a bad complaint."