WARWICK, RI —Today, the Ethics Commission voted to investigate House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi for pushing legislation which overrode local control over zoning to financially benefit his legal client. The Ethics Commission also voted to investigate two former top McKee administration officials, David Patten and James Thorsen, for their gift-grabbing escapade in Philadelphia. The state police are also investigating Patten. However, the Ethics Commission staff did not indicate that it would file an ethics complaint regarding Governor Dan McKee’s free lunch from a lobbyist.
Republican Party of R.I. Chairman Joe Powers has the following comments:
“I would like to thank the Ethics Commission for launching investigations into Shekarchi as well as Patten and Thorsen for their unethical conduct. However, because the Ethics Commission staff has not filed an ethics complaint against McKee for his free lunch, it appears we will need to do it to jump-start that investigation.
Unethical behavior by our top public officials gives Rhode Island a bad reputation. In order to do business in Rhode Island, you should not need to give gifts, free lunches, campaign donations to public officials, or hire a legislator as your lawyer. The Ethics Commission will need to fine Patten and Thorsen in order to start rehabilitating our state’s national reputation. The Ethics Commission will need to fine Shekarchi to show statehouse legislators that their job is to look out for the needs of their constituents, not their clients. If these public officials are not fined, people will believe that Rhode Island is a state on the take.”