A House committee is slated to vote Tuesday on several bills filed after a Providence lawmaker was accused of misappropriating campaign funds. One of the bills would require officeholders to file an annual bank statement to back up information on campaign reports.
House Judiciary will also vote on bills calling for separate campaign accounts for public officeholders, and in some cases, for finance reports to be filed by someone other than the officeholder.
Whether the bills go far enough to discourage wrongdoing is open to debate. The good government group Common Cause of Rhode Island says random audits of campaign accounts would make for a stronger response.
The bills up for consideration were inspired when Providence Representative Joseph Almeida was charged in February with misappropriating more than $6000 in campaign funds. Almeida has pleaded not guilty and he’s due back in court next week. Since that time, another Providence lawmaker, former House Speaker Gordon Fox, pleaded guilty to using more than $100,000 from his campaign account for personal expenses.
The committee is also scheduled to consider a bill that would give voters the chance to restore state Ethics Commission oversight of the General Assembly.
In 2009, a state Supreme Court decision stripped the Ethics Commission of its ability to police lawmakers.
A bill sponsored by Scituate Representative Michael Marcello would give voters the choice of whether to restore the Ethics Commission’s oversight on lawmakers. Marcello was the unsuccessful challenger to Nicholas Mattiello in last year’s battle to be speaker of the House.
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