Ethics Concerns Raised over Higher Ed Pick

Jul 15, 2013

Common Cause has asked Governor Lincoln Chafee to withdraw his recommendation of attorney Eva-Marie Mancuso for interim state commissioner of higher education.

Mancuso is currently chair of the State Board of Education, and Common Cause says that should bar her from consideration. The good-government group cites ethics rules that prohibit state board members from taking paid positions within the agencies they oversee.

Under the rules, Mancuso would normally have to leave the Board of Education and wait at least one year before she could be considered for position. Governor Chafee's Spokeswoman, Christine Huntsinger, says Chafee believes the State Ethics Commission will grant an exception in this case.

"There is a prohibition from someone who sits on the board then taking a paid position with it, but there have been exemptions given in the past," Huntsinger said.  "The plan has always been to seek an opinion from the ethics commission."

Office of Higher Education Spokesman Mike Trainor says Eva-Marie Mancuso plans to request an advisory opinion from the State Ethics Commission by Wednesday. The Board of Education was slated to vote on her appointment as interim higher education commissioner at its meeting Monday, but the board may choose not to act pending a decision from the ethics commission.