Gordon Fox

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.

RIPR FILE

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In addition to losing his license and house seat, state education officials rescinded his honorary degree from his Alma Mater Rhode Island College.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

RIPR FILE

Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to release her first state budget on Thursday. Part of the challenge is to slash a projected $190 million deficit.  So what will get cut? RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay tells us what to watch out for.

There is that ancient Statehouse cliché: If you want to figure out what a governor’s priorities are, check out the budget. Rhode Islanders get their first look at what our new governor, Gina Raimondo, values when she releases her spending and taxing plan for state government on Thursday.

Aaron Read / RIPR

The non-partisan good government group Common Cause isn’t satisfied with a reform measure backed by House leaders in the aftermath of Gordon Fox’s guilty plea earlier this year.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says it makes sense for officeholders to file their bank statements for their campaign accounts with the state agency that monitors campaign spending.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Representative Michael Chippendale (R-Foster) joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss Gordon Fox's guilty plea on corruption charges; who wasn't charged; how the state might do better in fighting corruption; and the recent spat between Governor Gina Raimondo and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

RIPR FILE

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.

John Bender

Reactions have been swift to news that Former House Speaker Gordon Fox pleaded guilty to three felony charges.

The charges include one count of bribery and one count of misusing campaign funds.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison reports on reaction from both sides of the aisle.

Calling it a "sad chapter" in Rhode Island Politics, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said in a brief statement, "there is no place for public corruption."

A Democrat, Mattiello took over after Fox resigned as speaker, following raids on his home and Statehouse office.

John Bender / RIPR

Former House Speaker Gordon Fox has admitted that he violated the law by converting campaign money to personal use and accepting a bribe to wire a liquor license for a Thayer Street bar that the neighbors weren’t  too keen on having near their homes.

But in Rhode Island political circles, the biggest rule he broke was the iron, if unofficial, Statehouse cliché: Don’t take a dime while you are serving in the General Assembly. Then cash in for as much as you can make later.

John Bender / RIPR

Almost one year after a state-federal raid that sparked the sudden end of his political career, former House Speaker Gordon Fox is facing a three-year prison sentence as the result of an investigation charging him with bribery, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return.

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