Rhode Island speaker to step down after FBI raids

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Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox speaks to a reporter as he emerges from his home in Providence, R.I., on Saturday, March 22, a day after Fox’s home and Statehouse office were raided by federal and state authorities. Fox told reporters outside his home Saturday he would make a statement “when it’s appropriate.†Authorities raided Fox’s Capitol office and home Friday as part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Officials haven’t said who or what they are investigating. Fox wouldn’t comment when asked if he plans to resign. He also wouldn’t say if a lawyer is representing him. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox speaks to a reporter as he emerges from his home in Providence, R.I., on Saturday, March 22, a day after Fox’s home and Statehouse office were raided by federal and state authorities. Fox told reporters outside his home Saturday he would make a statement “when it’s appropriate.†Authorities raided Fox’s Capitol office and home Friday as part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Officials haven’t said who or what they are investigating. Fox wouldn’t comment when asked if he plans to resign. He also wouldn’t say if a lawyer is representing him. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox speaks to a reporter as he emerges from his home in Providence, R.I., on Saturday, March 22, 2014 a day after Fox’s home and Statehouse office were raided by federal and state authorities. Fox told reporters outside his home Saturday he would make a statement “when it’s appropriate.†Authorities raided Fox’s Capitol office and home Friday as part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Officials haven’t said who or what they are investigating. Fox wouldn’t comment when asked if he plans to resign. He also wouldn’t say if a lawyer is representing him. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

FILE – In this Jan. 24, 2013 file photo, Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox places papers on the rostrum moments before calling the House into session at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I. Law enforcement officials raided the Democratic House speaker’s office and home Friday, March 21, 2014, as part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police.(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

FBI investigators leave the office of Rhode island House Speaker Gordon Fox at the Statehouse in Providence, R.I., Friday, March 21, 2014. Rhode Island House Majority Leader Nick Mattiello says he has called an “informational caucus” for Friday evening for Democrats to talk about the future of the House. Mattiello tells The Associated Press that Friday’s news that House Speaker Gordon Fox’s statehouse office and home were raided by state and federal law enforcement is “unsettling.” Mattiello says he wants to be the next speaker, and is aware that other House members, including Chris Blazejewski and Mike Marcello, are also interested in the top spot. Neither lawmaker returned messages. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox is resigning from his leadership post and will not run for re-election, he said Saturday, a day after federal and state authorities raided his Statehouse office and home as part of a criminal investigation that they would not detail.

“Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker,” Fox said in a written statement emailed Saturday evening to reporters. “The process of governing must continue and the transition of leadership must be conducted in an orderly manner.”

The 52-year-old Providence Democrat said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term, but that “my personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation.”

The Friday raids were carried out by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Boxes of evidence were carried off, but officials have not said whom or what they are investigating.

Fox has represented Rhode Island’s capital in the General Assembly for more than 20 years, and became the nation’s first openly gay House speaker when he assumed the post in 2010. He came out in 2004, in an unplanned announcement, while addressing a gay marriage rally at the Statehouse.

The raids almost immediately set off jockeying Friday among members of the House vying to become the next speaker. On Saturday, shortly after Fox’s announcement, his top deputy said he intends to run for speaker in an election expected to be held on Tuesday and that he believes he has enough votes.

“I wish Speaker Fox well,” Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello told The Associated Press. He said he was saddened by the situation but that legislators would now be able to “work together to move the House of Representatives and the state forward in a positive direction.”

While questions remain about the nature of the investigation and Fox’s role in it, his enduring legislative legacy is most likely to be legalizing gay marriage. In 2011, he abandoned a legalization push because of opposition in the Senate. Instead, he pushed civil unions. He was roundly criticized by some gay marriage supporters, who felt bitter and let down.

But just two years later, Fox was instrumental in pushing the legislation through as the political climate on the issue shifted nationally. He became emotional at the bill-signing ceremony on the Statehouse steps last year as he addressed the crowd and talked about his longtime partner, Marcus LaFond, whom he called “the love of my life.”

“This tells me our relationship does matter,” Fox said. “It means that we mean something.”

The two were married last year in Fox’s Statehouse office.

Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, recalled Fox’s years as majority leader and said he was respected for his ability to cut to the heart of an issue during floor debates.

“I admire him.

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