Rhode Island House to hold caucus on next speaker

Comment: Off

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)

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)

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)

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)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Two legislators have emerged as candidates to replace Gordon Fox in arguably the most powerful position in Rhode Island government, and their viability is expected to be tested Sunday when House members meet to discuss who has the votes to assume the speakership.

The caucus comes a day after Fox relinquished the House speakership following twin raids at his Statehouse office and home as part of a criminal investigation. Officials will not say whom or what they are investigating.

House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello and Oversight Committee Chairman Michael Marcello, both Democrats, have claimed they have enough votes to become House speaker. Mattiello called for a meeting of all House members Sunday night to declare whom they intend to support ahead of a formal vote expected Tuesday.

Ahead of that meeting, Marcello met with his Democratic supporters Sunday afternoon in Johnston, along with five of the six Republican members of the 75-member chamber, who could be key in deciding the next speaker.

Mattiello, Fox’s top deputy, on Sunday reiterated his claim that he has more than the 38 votes necessary to win the speakership, though he would not specify how many. He said of Marcello’s camp: “They will not have a majority — not even close.”

Marcello told reporters outside the Johnston meeting that he had 33 votes, five votes shy of what he needs. When asked about his comments Saturday to WPRI-TV that he had the votes he needed, he said “everything’s still in play.”

“We’re going to take it all the way to the House floor,” he said.

Rep. Joseph Trillo, the House minority whip, emerged from the meeting in Johnston to report that he was leaning toward Marcello. He said earlier in the day that the Republicans want to vote as a bloc but said later that he didn’t think they were “100 percent either way.”

Trillo said that both candidates are courting Republicans by saying “they are willing to do major change” and that some “very serious change agents” are on Marcello’s team.

The Friday raids on Fox’s office and home came amid a joint investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Boxes of evidence were carried off after agents spent hours at Fox’s home and office Friday. Officials will not say whom or what they are investigating.

Fox, a 52-year-old Providence Democrat who became the nation’s first openly gay House speaker in 2010, said in an emailed statement Saturday that he plans to serve the rest of his term, which runs through the end of the year. But, he said: “My personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation.”

“Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker,” Fox said. “The process of governing must continue and the transition

Comments

comments

About the Author