Duie Pyle, Gomer Pyle and the Speaker of the House
Last month, Mike Stanton at the Providence Journal broke the story that the FBI was investigating allegations that Senator Stephen Alves (D-West Warwick) killed a tax break for trucking company A. Duie Pyle for personal financial reasons – or lack thereof. At the time, Speaker of the House William Murphy (D-West Warwick) denied any knowledge of the proposed tax break as it was under legislative consideration.
After The Journal reported last month that the FBI was investigating whether Alves abused his office by killing the bill, Murphy said that he wasn’t aware of the Duie Pyle bill during the session.
“I didn’t know Duie Pyle from Gomer Pyle,” Murphy told The Journal.
But now Stanton is reporting that Representative Stephen Ucci (D-Johnston) says otherwise. And not just to the media.
Ucci confirmed that he and another Johnston legislator, Sen. Christopher B. Maselli, testified to the grand jury in Providence two weeks ago, along with Jeff Britt, Duie Pyle’s lobbyist. Ucci and Maselli had told The Journal about their efforts to revive the bill, only to learn that Alves opposed it. …
Rep. Stephen R. Ucci, D-Johnston, testified that he took his concerns to Murphy that Senate Finance Chairman Stephen D. Alves was purportedly opposed to the tax break because the Town of Johnston had failed to invest pension funds with Alves, a stockbroker. The legislation — which would have granted a $330,000 tax break to A. Duie Pyle for bringing jobs to Johnston — died at the State House in June and has since become the subject of an FBI corruption investigation.
Murphy thanked him for the information, but did nothing to move the bill along, says Ucci.
And now, Speaker Murphy is no longer talking about Pyles of any variety.
Murphy declined yesterday to discuss the matter. Asked if he or other House leaders have been subpoenaed, he declined to comment on “a matter under investigation.”
Interestingly, not everyone’s memory is as good as Rep Ucci and Sen Maselli.
As Senate Finance chairman, Alves helps shape the budget that emerges from House Finance, in private meetings with his House counterpart, Rep. Steven M. Costantino, D-Providence. Their meetings are so secretive that the vice chairman of House Finance, Rep. Jan P. Malik, D-Warren, says that he’s not even allowed inside.
Costantino has not returned repeated calls from The Journal seeking comment on why Duie Pyle was cut from the budget. Alves says that he couldn’t recall whether Duie Pyle came up in his talks with Costantino.
After the House Finance budget was released, Ucci says he went to House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, who told him that it was Alves who was opposed to the Duie Pyle incentive. (Fox told The Journal that he couldn’t recall the conversation.)
Why did Speaker Murphy deny any knowledge of the proposed tax break? Did he speak to Senator Alves about it? If so, what was said? Is it possible even that Senator Alves shared with the Speaker his annoyance about being denied management of the Johnston pensions? Would that make the Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives a potential witness before the Grand Jury?
House Minority Whip Nick Gorham (R-Foster/Gloucester/Coventry), appearing on WPRO’s John Depetro Show this morning, called on Speaker Murphy to “clear the air” and “come out and say what he knew and when he knew it”. Rep Gorham also made some interesting and pointed comments about Speaker Murphy’s legislative power and the probability that he was unaware of the pending tax break for A. Duie Pyle.
Everybody knows that the Speaker and Leader Fox know exactly what’s going on in the committees almost all of the time and, especially in the waning days, they choose what bills live and die. …
They are running all of the traffic through the intersections on the final days of the General Assembly. Fox, Murphy, Alves, Montalbano – they are running the show and they know it. And for them to say that we didn’t know what was going on … this silly thing about Gomer Pyle and Duie Pyle. You know … I think that they are abdicating their responsibility to be forthright with the public. What happened and why?