Gordon Fox

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island Democrats plan to make their selection of a new state chairman official this evening Thursday.  Former state rep David Caprio won the backing for the post last month from House Speaker Gordon Fox.

Democrats will hold a state committee meeting this evening to elect Caprio as their new chairman. No other candidates for the volunteer position are expected.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Senator Dawson Hodgson (R-North Kingstown) joins the Political Roundtable to discuss an ethics complaint against House Speaker Gordon Fox; Hodgson's interest in running for attorney general in 2014; debate about federal cuts in food programs; and the latest on Deepwater Wind.

Back in 2007, Gordon Fox said he didn't think his public office had been beneficial to his private law practice. The statement has some unintentional irony in the present, considering how Fox faces a state Ethics Commission investigation for not disclosing legal work done from 2005 to 2009 for the Providence Economic Development Partnership.

The state Ethics Commission on Tuesday decided to investigate a complaint filed against House Speaker Gordon Fox. The question is whether Fox needed to disclose legal work done for the City of Providence.

Jason Gramitt, a staff attorney for the Ethics Commission, calls the step taken by the commission "preliminary. The commission only looks at the complaint and decides whether or not it should authorize an investigation, and so that's all they've done. They didn't offer any opinion as to whether the complaint is a good complaint or a bad complaint."


Every year, when Rhode Island lawmakers start working on a new budget, they face a spending plan mired in red ink. By law, the budget must be balanced by the end of the legislative session, usually in June. But like a boomerang, projected budget deficits zoom back to Smith Hill by the time the new session starts in January. Next year will no different -- Rhode Island already faces the fiscal year starting in July 2014 with an estimated $149 million hole. And the state lacks a plan for overcoming budget deficits that are projected to get far worse with time.

Rhode Island Remembers Susan Farmer

Sep 16, 2013

Former Secretary of State and public television executive Susan Farmer has died after a long fight with cancer.

Farmer became the first woman elected to statewide office when she won an election for secretary of state in 1982. Former Providence Journal political columnist M. Charles Bakst said Farmer was the leader in a wave of GOP women winning political office.

“Republicans led the way in this state. Five of the first six women who were elected to office were Republicans,” said Bakst. “She was a liberal Republican. In her day, that was the thing to be.”

As the media burst with news that Gov. Lincoln Chafee was not seeking re-election, the state’s top elected officials crafted statements praising the governor.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and state treasurer Gina Raimondo, who are both expected to run for Chafee’s office, released statements thanking him for his years of public service. Taveras called him a man of integrity, while Raimondo called Chafee an unfailing optimist who always had the state’s best interest at heart.


The head of the state Republican Party is blaming legislative Democrats for failing to improve Rhode Island’s economy. The state’s unemployment rate climbed by a tenth of percent in July, to 8.9 percent.

State GOP chairman Mark Smiley said the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders are wrong to brag about their efforts when the unemployment rate is going in the wrong direction.

Welcome back to my Friday politics + media column. As always, you can reach me at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's head in.

Rhode Island voters can expect to decide next year whether to organize a constitutional convention.  Voters are supposed to be asked that question once every 10 years.

The question of whether to stage a constitutional convention can be put on the ballot by either the General Assembly or the secretary of state. Secretary of State Ralph Mollis said if the legislature doesn’t pose the question for voters, he’ll put it on the ballot next year.

As same-sex marriage becomes legal in Rhode Island Thursday, state Representative Frank Ferri and his longtime partner are among those planning to mark the day by tying the knot.  It took almost 20 years to legalize same-sex marriage in the Ocean State.

Ferri and his partner, Tony Caparco, plan to marry in Warwick this evening with about 300 friends and family members on hand. House Speaker Gordon Fox will perform the ceremony. Ferri, a Warwick Democrat, says the newfound ability of gays and lesbians to marry in Rhode Island will lend special meaning to the nuptials.

Thanks to a cost of living adjustment mandated by the state Constitution, 111 state lawmakers are entitled to get a $307 boost in their annual pay, bringing the yearly amount to $14,947. The pay hike is doubled for House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who get twice the salary of other lawmakers.

What all these means depends whom you ask.

Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate Ken Block has hired a veteran of Rhode Island politics to manage his run for governor next year.

Block has hired Jeff Britt to run his latest campaign for governor. Last year, Britt managed a spirited run by an independent challenger to House Speaker Gordon Fox. Block said he thinks Britt has the ability to make a big difference in his campaign.

Rhode Island politicians are increasingly looking to non-profit institutions to finance local government. The latest tug-of-war between town and gown is in Smithfield, where the town thinks Bryant University is not paying its fair share. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says its time for cooperation, not confrontation.

Bonus Q+A: Gordon Fox

Jul 19, 2013

Seldom does a politician have a chance to not only change history but the trajectory of his own life. That was the case this year with Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, who spearheaded the same sex marriage bill that passed the General Assembly after years of defeat. Fox, an openly gay politician, discussed how the law will affect his own life in an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Flo Jonic and Scott MacKay.