Leo Skenyon to become Speaker Mattiello chief of staff

Mar 25, 2014

UPDATE: Skenyon began working in Mattiello's office today, according to House spokesman Larry Berman.

With rumors dancing through the Statehouse corridors of power, new House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston has yet to reveal his leadership team. Which isn’t unusual, considering he wasn’t formally elected speaker until about an hour ago.

While noting is official yet, it appears as if  Leo Skenyon, 58, a veteran of state government and politics, will become chief of staff to the new speaker, replacing former North Providence state Rep. Frank Anzeveno, who held the job under former speaker Gordon Fox, whose resignation last Saturday under a legal cloud gave Mattiello the opening he needed to put together the House coalition that elected him to the top post in the House.

Skenyon is a veteran Democratic political player in Rhode Island with intimate knowledge of the State House: He was once a staffer to former U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell and top aide Senate Majority Leader Jack Revens of Warwick and served for many years as administrator and then clerk of the state Traffic Tribunal. He understands state politics, was a campaign aide and confidante of former Gov. Bruce Sundlun and brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the post. This looks like a smart move for Mattiello, who is taking over the House in the middle of the session.

Other crucial positions that Mattiello now controls have yet to be announced. The biggest prize is chairman of the House Finance Committee, a position now held by Rep. Helio Melo, D-East Providence, who ended up on the wrong side of the speaker’s hasty election by siding with the rep Mattiello vanquished, Rep. Matthew Marcello, D-Scituate.

Most of the speculation for finance chief has focused on Reps. Gus Silva, D-Central Falls and Raymond Gallison, D-Bristol. Late yesterday it appeared that Gallison had the inside track.

Another top committee up for grabs is House Judiciary, where incumbent chairwoman Edith Ajello, D-Providence, was also on the losing side of the leadership tussle. It appears as if Cale Keable, D_Burrillville, and perhaps Robert Craven, D-North Kingstown are under consideration.  Keable is a Harvard Law School graduate who works for a prominent Providence law firm. Craven is a former RI assistant attorney general and state prosecutor who is now a defense lawyer in private practice.

Expect other changes in top staff and on committees as Mattiello settles in with John DeSimone, D-Providence, the new majority leader,  and make his decisions.