Kilmartin Wants Background Checks for Strip Club Workers

Oct 31, 2013

Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says his office is developing legislation for the upcoming General Assembly session that would require background checks for workers in Rhode Island's adult entertainment industry.

Kilmartin outlined the effort during a taping of RIPR's Political Roundtable after being asked why his office hasn't been more proactive in dealing with problems, such as underage strippers, at Providence strip clubs.

"I spoke with my legislative liaison, Joee Lindbeck, the other day, and I said, 'Put together a package where we will require background checks for anyone who is an employee or a contract employee,' " Kilmartin said, "because they're claiming that these dancers or strippers -- whatever you want to call them are contract employees."

In August, Providence City Council President Michael Solomon called for background checks at strip clubs after a 15-year-old from Boston was found working at Cheaters Gentleman's Club on Allens Avenue.

Kilmartin says he favors the same concept: "We want to make sure that the proper background checks are in place, proper identification is done, that we don't have human trafficking, that we don't have underage children in there."

Roundtable airs Friday morning at 5:40 and 7:40 on RIPR. Kilmartin also joined us for Bonus Q+A, which is broadcast at 6:40 and 8:40 a.m.

Other highlights from our conversation:

-- Kilmartin confirmed he plans to seek re-election for a second term, although he doesn't yet have  a date in mind for a formal announcement. Asked about potential GOP challenger Dawson Hodgson's criticism that Kilmartin hasn't been proactive enough as AG, Kilmartin said, "I haven't heard those criticisms from him and candidly, from someone who was a junior prosecutor, a junior senator ... we'll let that all play out in the campaign."

-- Asked about the constitutionality of the state pension overhaul of 2011, Kilmartin said there's a presumption that laws passed by the General Assembly are constitutional. Kilmartin's office could wind up defending the state if a lawsuit by a series of public-employee unions moves ahead in Superior Court (mediation in the case is ongoing). "This is very, very early in that process," Kilmartin says, "and I don't see an answer to this conundrum for at least a couple of years until it plays out in the court system." 

-- Kilmartin was a Democratic state rep for 20 years before winning the AG's office in 2010. He points to the prosecution by his office of former North Providence police chief John Whiting (described by Kilmartin as a friend and former colleague) as evidence that his office can fully examine fallout from the failure of 38 Studios. Regarding previous reports of an ongoing state police investigation into 38 Studios, the AG says he's confident "that what was produced in the civil trial has been viewed by the state police. I'm confident that has happened or will happen, and that the due-diligence of that investigation is going forward. If our office had a role in it, it would be a supplemental role where the evidence would be brought to us and we either prosecute or we don't, depending on how the evidence falls." 

Tune in or listen online Friday for much more, including Kilmartin's views on Deepwater Wind, open records, and fighting gun violence and public corruption.