Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, D-Providence, resigned Saturday after federal and state law enforcement officials raided his Statehouse office and home Friday to collect evidence regarding an “undisclosed matter,” the Providence Journal reported.
Fox, who was Rhode Island’s first black and openly gay speaker of the House, will immediately cease to carry out the office’s duties, his spokesman told the Journal. Though it is not yet clear what allegations, if any, have been made against Fox, this is not the first time he has been associated with possible ethical misconduct. In January, Fox settled with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission to accept a $1,500 fine for “failing to report nearly $43,000 he earned preparing loan documents for Providence’s economic development agency from 2007 to 2009,” the Journal reported Friday.
Fox has also been under scrutiny for his role in a July 2010 deal that guaranteed a $75 million loan to 38 Studios, a video game company that then declared bankruptcy in June 2012. The failed investment by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation has left taxpayers responsible for some $100 million, The Herald previously reported.
Steven O’Donnell, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, did not specify whether Fox is the target of the investigation, or whether the evidence confiscated from his house and office would be used to prosecute cases involving other individuals, the Journal reported.
In a statement emailed to the press by Fox’s spokesman Friday afternoon, Fox wrote, “I will continue to serve out the remainder of my term and represent my neighbors and constituents in District 4. That said, I do not intend to seek another term in the House.”
With Fox’s resignation, the impending election of a new speaker is still up in the air.
The House is scheduled to reconvene Tuesday, and House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, told the Journal he has the 38 votes needed to win, adding that he has asked Rep. John DeSimone, D-Providence, to replace him as majority leader should Mattiello become speaker.
But WPRI reported Saturday that Rep. Michael Marcello, D-Scituate and Cranston, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said he believes he has the votes to be the next speaker. On Friday, before it was certain that Fox would resign, Rep. J. Patrick O’Neill, D-Pawtucket, a former House majority whip, told the Journal he would also like to hold the position.