WARWICK, RI — According to a recent news report, lobbyist Jeff Britt, a political operative who was previously indicted for violating campaign finance law, paid $228 for a free lunch for Governor Dan McKee as part of his effort to lobby for $55 million for Scout’s Cranston Street Armory project. Under R.I. Ethics Commission Regulation 1.4.2(C) (36-14-5009), public officials cannot accept a single gift of more than $25 in value from an interested person. Also, under R.I.G.L. § 42-139.1-6, all lobbyists must report “all expenditures made for the purpose of lobbying, other than routine office expenses” and “all campaign contributions in excess of one hundred dollars ($100) made to any elected state official, candidate for state-level elected office, or political action committee.” During this time period, Britt donated $2,000 in contributions, including $1,000 to Governor McKee the day before the lunch. Britt never reported what he spent on the free lunch or his campaign donations.
Republican Party of R.I. Chairman Joe Powers has the following comments:
“The Scout scandal just gets worse for Rhode Island’s reputation. After the gift-grabbing escapade by high-ranking Rhode Island public officials in Philadelphia, now we learn that Governor McKee accepted a free lunch from a lobbyist, and that lobbyist, who was previously indicted for violating campaign finance law, is now violating Rhode Island’s lobbying disclosure laws.
It is an embarrassment that an out-of-state business thinks this is how you need to do business in Rhode Island. First, Scout hired a lobbyist, with Britt’s track record. Then Britt made a $1,000 donation to the governor right before the lunch with the governor. Then Britt paid for the governor’s lunch.
Does Governor McKee decide whether to fund a project based on the amount of donations or free lunches he gets? If a proposed project is too expensive, McKee should just reject it. No wonder businesses stay away from Rhode Island.
The Ethics Commission’s staff should amend its complaint against David Patten and James Thorsen to include Governor Dan McKee because McKee accepted a free lunch which exceeded $25 from Scout’s lobbyist Jeff Britt. Also, Secretary of State Greg Amore should initiate an investigation into Jeff Britt’s lobbying practice. Britt has spent money to lobby the Governor McKee and did not report it or his campaign donations. The only way to clean up Rhode Island’s political culture is to hold everyone in the Scout scandal accountable.”