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Mattiello: I Have the Votes to be the Next Speaker

But will Speaker of the House Gordon Fox resign?

Photo Courtesy: Rhode Island General Assembly
Photo Courtesy: Rhode Island General Assembly
Cranston Rep. and House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello walked out of the closed-door meeting with other Democratic lawmakers at the Marriot on Orms Street in Providence late Friday night and said he is confident he had the votes to be the next Speaker of the House.

“Clearly there was an event that’s going to overshadow our session going forward, and we just want to move forward and do the people’s business as orderly as possible,” Mattiello said, referring to the Friday raids at Speaker of the House Gordon Fox's office at the State House and his home in Providence's East Side.

But Mattiello acknowledged that it all might be a bit premature, since Fox hasn't resigned and might not resign despite being the center of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Police and the Internal Revenue Service - based on the letters printed on the windbreakers of the dozens of agents who swarmed in and out of the State House on Friday.

Reports indicate about 28 other lawmakers attended the Friday caucus with Mattiello and the topic at hand was how to move forward with state business in the wake of the raids and the subsequent distraction it has created.

Meanwhile, another group of leaders, including House Finance Committee Chairman Helio Melo, Dep. Majority Whip Chris Blazejewski, Majority Whip Stephen Ucci and Rep. Michael Marcello were at another meeting at Venda Ravioli in Providence to have their own discussion.

The dueling meetings suggest that Mattiello could face opposition in his effort to claim the speakership, if, of course, Fox resigns.

Marcello, a Democrat from Scituate, told WPRI that the evening "demonstrated there are no clear frontrunners to be the next speaker."

“More importantly we still have a speaker who has not resigned, and a lot of this talk may be premature,” Marcello said.

But there will be growing pressure on Fox to resign. On Friday, Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung and other leaders began speaking out, calling upon Fox to step down, citing the distraction the ordeal will bring to the state.

Investigators have given no details about the nature of their investigation. But they did seize numerous boxes and bags of evidence from both raid sites. It was like a scene from a movie as agents and police streamed out of the speaker's office at the State House with a train of carts loaded with evidence.

Though there has been no clear-stated reason for the raids, speculation rests on Fox's involvement with the troubled Providence Economic Development Partnership.

PEDP, a loan-granting organization, doled out dozens of loans with Fox serving as the closing attorney and for five years, he reportedly didn't report his income to the state Ethics Commission.

Investigative Reporter Jim Hummel said that Fox handled 80 loans and made tens of thousands as the closing attorney. One of those loans was to a Cranston woman who reportedly used a dummy address in Providence that happened to be Fox's private office building's address to secure the loan, which ordinarily would not be available to a Providence nonresident.

Fox did settle with the Ethics Commission recently.
Suzanne Arena March 22, 2014 at 09:07 PM
I see part of the problem is that those who give family members a million chances after they have f'd up and screwed them over…they turn around and get them a job, give them money and/or expunge whatever abuse they have done. I cut off the toxic family members or friends….I don't give you the 'nod' because you will do me a favor in return. GET RID OF THEM! Our Reps and Senators have topics to vote upon that they are supposed to represent their Constituents.
Becca March 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM
He is just another one... Don't vote him in November!
Gene Chevrette March 23, 2014 at 11:45 AM
OK Mattiello take the job but with the understanding that it is a 4 year term only, and then your out of the speakers position. This way the speaker does not have a stranglehold on all the power. Hopefully the reps will vote for an honest leader who has the citizens of RI in mind every time he makes a decision, rather than the normal agenda that has been there for years. Something has to give. This is the time for change. I'm not too enthusiastic about the outcome of this, after all it is, corrupt RI politics as usual
mrfixit March 23, 2014 at 07:52 PM
boy these politicians are like sharks when the see blood the attack

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