A New Year Brings More Ethics Violations
The ProJo reports:
The state Ethics Commission ruled yesterday that it is more likely than not that Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano intentionally violated the state ethics code by failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in income from West Warwick for legal work associated with the Narragansett’s failed casino proposal.
The commission decided behind closed doors that probable cause exists to pursue eight charges of “knowing and willful” ethics violations against Montalbano, D-North Providence, who easily won reelection to the state Senate’s top post three weeks ago.
And in addition to filing incomplete financial statements, the commission found it likely that Montalbano intentionally participated in Senate votes for which there was a clear conflict.
Montalbano “knew or should have known that his participation and vote… while also providing legal services to the town concerning property which abutted the proposed casino site, could implicate certain conflict of interest provisions contained in the code of ethics,” according to an investigative report released yesterday by commission prosecutors…
Aside from one of the charges, Montalbano doesn’t deny the basic facts in the prosecution’s case. Through his lawyer, he acknowledges collecting more than $86,000 in income from West Warwick since 2003 for legal work that included clearing the titles on two parcels of land near the proposed Harrah’s-Narragansett Indian casino. Voters rejected the casino plan in the Nov. 7 election.
Robert P. Arruda, the former head of Operation Clean Government, which brought the complaint, said after the hearing that there was clear evidence of a “substantial conflict of interest” as Montalbano “shepherded through” a bill that would allow voters to weigh in on the casino proposal.
Ho hum. Just another day in RI.