Gordon Fox

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The recent 38 Studios lawsuit disclosures have provided an inside view of how Rhode Island state government let you down. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay points to other state agencies in dire need of oversight.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The 38 Studios lawsuit disclosures have once again cast a cloud over the Rhode Island Statehouse. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders when Rhode Islanders will finally be fed up enough to bring change to Smith Hill.

There will be a day when Rhode Island moves beyond 38 Studios, but that day is a long time off. The public release Thursday of tens of thousands of pages of documents is just one more step toward trying to get a better understanding of Rhode Island's most recent scandal. So with that in mind, thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. Your tips and thoughts are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me all week on the twitters. Here we go.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

During a closed session on June 9, 2010, the board of Rhode Island's Economic Development Corporation received a briefing on what then-Governor Don Carcieri suggested was a "fairly significant transaction" that had presented itself to the EDC.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island’s former House Speaker Gordon Fox must report to federal prison this week. Fox will serve a three-year jail term scheduled to start on Tuesday.


Rhode Island’s gay and lesbian community is weighing in on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of nation-wide same-sex marriage. Many see it as an affirmation of the state’s same-sex marriage law.

Sandra Richard joined the local chapter of the lesbian, gay and transgender advocacy group known as PFLAG back in 2010. Her daughter is transgender and married to a woman. At the time, Rhode Island was still three years away from same-sex marriage. 

Rhode Island lawmakers voted to allow same–sex marriage in 2013, but Richard says the Supreme Court decision is still important.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State and federal prosecutors say they continue to look at the corruption case involving former House speaker Gordon Fox.

Fox says he took $52,500 in bribes to approve a liquor license for a Thayer Street bar. No other individuals have been charged in connection with the case, but US Attorney Peter Neronha says the matter remains under review.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Former House Speaker Gordon Fox, who made a trip from the hardscrabble streets of Mount Hope to the pinnacle of political power in Rhode Island, was sentenced Thursday to serve three years in prison after being convicted of bribery, wire fraud and tax evasion.

A contrite Fox intermittently choked up while apologizing to his friends, family and the people of Rhode Island during a sentencing hearing conducted by US District Court Judge Mary Lisi.

John Bender / RIPR

New details are emerging surrounding the federal corruption case against former House Speaker Gordon Fox, who pleaded guilty to bribery, wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Fox is scheduled for sentencing on Thursday.

According to a court document, Fox ordered a brand new, $50,000 Audi in 2008. That was just a month after he accepted a bribe for about the same amount. Prosecutors point to it an example of Fox quote “living large.” At the same time, his personal income was listed at $73,000 a year.


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.

John Bender / RIPR

The State Supreme Court has disbarred former house Speaker Gordon Fox. Fox recently pleaded guilty to several counts of public corruption.

Fox acknowledged that he would lose his license to practice law when he accepted a plea deal for the corruption charges.  In March he pleaded guilty to charges of misspent campaign funds, and accepting a bribe for 52-thousand dollars.

In addition to losing his license and house seat, state education officials rescinded his honorary degree from his Alma Mater Rhode Island College.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A legal maneuver has blocked, at least temporarily, the City of Providence’s attempt to wipe out business permits for the Shark Bar and Grille.

The city targeted the Thayer Street establishment because of bribes paid to former House Speaker Gordon Fox.

The Superior Court has appointed a receiver for the bar, following a request from the bar’s owners.

The move means the judge is in control of the bar for now, and the city License Board can’t go after the permits. 

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has filed a petition requesting that the city licensing board declare that all licenses held by the Shark Bar & Grille on Thayer Street near Brown University be declared void.

The mayor’s reasoning comes as no surprise because owners of the Shark paid a $52,000 in bribe in 2008 to former House Speaker Gordon Fox, who at the time was vice-chair of the Providence Board of Licenses. After the bribe was paid, the Shark obtained a liquor license despite opposition from East Side residents and Brown officials.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Common Cause of Rhode Island executive director John Marion joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the fight for reform after guilty pleas last week by former House speaker Gordon Fox; Governor Gina Raimondo's first budget; and Ken Block's study on the cost of fire services in RI.

Talk about a full Rhode Island. Gordon Fox pleads guilty, Gerry Martineau wants his legislative pension, the state Supreme Court green-lights an April start for the pension trial, and Governor Gina Raimondo is set to unveil her first budget on Thursday. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As always, feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.