Rhode Island Ethics Commission opens investigation into Gov. Dan McKee’s lunch with lobbyist

rhode island ethics commission opens investigation into gov dan mckees lunch with lobbyist
The Associated Press

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission says it has opened an investigation into whether Democratic Gov. Dan McKee broke state law when he was treated to lunch at a restaurant in January

Rhode Island Ethics Commission opens investigation into Gov. Dan McKee’s lunch with lobbyistThe Associated PressPROVIDENCE, R.I.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee will be investigated by the state Ethics Commission in order to establish whether or not a free lunch violated state campaign finance laws.

The commission voted Tuesday after a complaint was filed by the state’s Republican Party last month.

Jeff Britt, a lobbyist representing urban development firm Scout Ltd., paid for the $228 meal at the Capital Grille in Providence in January. Scout Ltd. was hoping to move ahead with a plan to redevelop the Cranston Street Armory in Providence.

Under Rhode Island ethics law, public officials are barred from accepting items worth $25 or more from anyone seeking to do business with the state.

The lunch included Britt, McKee, McKee’s campaign fundraising chair Jerry Sahagian and two employees of Scout Ltd.

Britt said he paid for the lunch at the request of Sahagian. The governor’s campaign said last month that they reimbursed Britt for the lunch.

The governor canceled the state contract with the firm earlier this month. A state-hired consultant found Scout’s redevelopment plan would cost the state about $10.5 million over 15 years.

Britt’s clients also gave McKee two $500 campaign donations the same day as the lunch, according to campaign finance records.

Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Joe Powers, who welcomed the investigation, said “the Ethics Commission needs to expose Rhode Island’s pay-to-play political culture.” Powers added in the written statement “what has happened in this state in the last sixty days is embarrassing.”

McKee downplayed the complaint, saying it was driven by politics. His campaign representative Mike Trainor called the complaint, “politically, not ethically, motivated by the GOP,” in a statement Tuesday.

“The campaign looks forward to the conduct and conclusion of the investigation by the Ethics Commission,” Trainor said in a statement.

In March, Scout Ltd. alerted state officials to what it called “blatantly sexist, racist and unprofessional” behavior during a business trip by a top Rhode Island official, who later resigned. McKee has said that had no influence on his decision to end the contract with Scout Ltd.

When McKee was the state’s lieutenant governor, he was fined $250 in 2019 by the state Ethics Commission for failing to disclose a trip he took to Taiwan.

Authored by Ap via Breitbart July 25th 2023