Should Rep. Dan Gordon Be Forced Out?
Dan Gordon is the embattled RI State Representative from District 71, representing Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton now facing calls for his resignation. According to the Providence Journal, he will “absolutely not” step down.
That would seem there are only a couple other options to forcibly remove him from office. There was previously some mention of a 2/3 vote (of whom?) that could remove him.
I cannot find any mention of this in the RIGL or the RI House Rules that would allow the General Assembly or just the House to take a vote and remove Gordon from office. I do see that the Ethics Commission may remove someone by way of a 2/3 vote of the Commission. However, former Senator William Irons’ court case basically gutted the Commission of its power and in response, the Commission hasn’t been taking on big issues since. Plus, the Ethics Commission’s focus has been on when politicians financially benefit from their position in power. That does not appear to be the case here.
The other option would be for the voters of his district to request a recall election. The rules for such are spelled out in the RI Constitution in Article IV, Section 1. One of the stated requirements for a recall is
Recall is authorized in the case of a general officer who has been indicted or informed against for a felony, convicted of a misdemeanor, or against whom a finding of probable cause of violation of the code of ethics has been made by the ethics commission.
Also, the time frame for recalling a State Rep is extremely small.
Recall shall not, however be instituted at any time during the first six (6) months or the last year of an individual’s term of office.
So based on that timeframe, recall is out of the question from January to June of this year and from January to December of 2012. That leaves a timeframe of July 1 to December 31 of this year.
I am not advocating for the recall of Gordon, but I think if he is no longer in office, it should only be by one of two ways, voluntary resignation or the voters of his district make the choice.
It seems that the situation happening is conflating multiple charges. The most serious charges against him were lodged and some later dropped, and his time in prison was all before he was elected. Did the voters of District 71 know about that when they chose him? I can’t answer for each one, but this is yet another example of misinformed voters and apathetic voters. It’s a shame when voters go to the polls and vote with very little information, often not much more than looking at the party designation. If voters aren’t going to do their homework on their candidates, that’s on them.
Lastly, what are the charges that are causing such a stir now? What has risen to the point where both Gordon Fox and Brian Newberry have called for Dan Gordon’s ouster? According to the Providence Journal
eluding the police and three other motor vehicle violations.
So let’s be serious here. These are two separate issues. The voters elected him with the serious charges and jail time, in his past. The current charges are motor vehicle violations, and still, he hasn’t even been convicted. That is what we want to remove an elected representative over?
Should Gordon be forced out of office? That’s not for me to decide. That’s for the people he represents, the people of RI House District 71.
Updated: Andrew and commenter John Marion informed me that the House can in fact remove a member by a 2/3 vote according to Article VI, Section 7
Rules of houses — Contempt. — Each house may determine its rules of proceeding, punish contempts, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member; but not a second time for the same cause.
However, my point stands, based on the current charges, I believe the only ones to remove Gordon from office should be either Gordon himself or the people who elected him.