Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo continues to take criticism for her administration’s alarming transparency problems. After a committee whose members were appointed by Raimondo dismissed an ethics complaint against her shady deal with the Providence Democratic City Committee, the Providence Journal published a scathing editorial blasting her administration for “insider dealings” while asking “can’t Rhode Island have a government that is a little more ethical than this?”
The Journal went on to say that the committee’s decision to dismiss the complaint against Raimondo “defies the literal truth as well as common sense” and that it set a “terrible precedent” for the state. With Raimondo continuing to earn the title of America’s Least Transparent Governor, her lack of any regard for accountability shows that she does not deserve another term.
The Providence Journal writes:
“There’s an old joke that ‘Rhode Island ethics’ is an oxymoron. The Rhode Island Ethics Commission, which is increasingly acting far more like a lapdog than a watchdog, seems determined to confirm the axiom.
On Tuesday, it flatly refused to investigate a fundraising deal that Gov. Gina Raimondo struck with Patrick Ward, then the head of the Providence City Democratic City Committee, after her administration hired him for $71,608 job as ‘chief of program development’ in the Department of Human Services.
Bizarrely, the commission, whose members are appointed by the governor, decided Mr. Ward was not a ‘subordinate’ of Ms. Raimondo and thus did not qualify under a prohibition against ‘finance transactions with subordinates.’
Give us a break. Mr. Ward — a blatantly political hire by the administration — is not the governor’s subordinate?
Come on. Can’t Rhode Island have a government that is a little more ethical than this?
Rhode Island’s insider dealings, after all, carry a steep price. Businesses are wary to come to a state that refuses to rigorously police political corruption. And citizens become increasingly apathetic when they see this kind of behavior. What’s the point of voting, they conclude, if it is all a game, where the ethics rules mean nothing? That, in turn, leaves the state legislature far more susceptible to control by special interests.
But the facts called for an investigation, at the very least. It seems doubtful Ms. Raimondo’s administration hired Mr. Ward after a nationwide search for the most qualified candidate. Then she struck a deal with him by which he would personally control money she funneled into the city committee’s coffers, while she controlled him as a state employee. (Later, he had to surrender the chairmanship after he posted a meme on social media comparing two Providence City Council members to characters in the movie ‘Godfather Part II.’)
It sets a terrible precedent to shrug off all such conduct, rather than deem it worthy of investigation, on the grounds that Mr. Ward is so far down the chain he is not the governor’s ‘subordinate.’ That defies the literal truth as well as common sense. Are governors now free to enter into outside financial arrangements with administration employees who could be fired at the governor’s will if they don’t cooperate?
It is frightening to imagine the high jinks in state government that this dubious decision by the oxymoronic Rhode Island Ethics Commission could unleash.”