The state Republican Party said Wednesday it has filed a state Ethics Commission complaint against former state Rep. Donald Lally, whose hiring by the Raimondo administration in July -- four months after he left the legislature -- is sparking debate about whether it violated the state's revolving door law.
The complaint was announced in a statement by RI GOP chairman Brandon Bell.
"It appears that we are going back to the good old days with old boy network politics under Governor Raimondo," Bell said. "You can't move Rhode Island forward by going backwards on ethics. The Governor said she is looking for accountability-- we believe that ethics oversight is the only way to accomplish that goal."
Via email, Bell declined to furnish a copy of the complaint. He added: "I think the Ethics Commission should be given the oppty to determine prob cause first. There are no surprises in Complaint. It is based on Revolving Door law RIGL 36-14-5(n)(1) and more specific regulation that applies to Lally 36-14-5007 (applied to legislators only)."
Raimondo aides maintain that hiring Lally does not constitute a violation of the state's revolving door law. The measure says that, with exceptions, former public officials have to be out of government work for one year before they can be rehired.
Raimondo spokeswoman Marie Aberger last week said Lally is exempt from the revolving door law because he meets an exception for "a senior policy-making, discretionary, or confidential position." He was hired for a role in making government more business-friendly and has been loaned to the state Department of Business Regulation.
Yet John Marion, executive director of Common Cause of Rhode Island, said Lally's hire violated at least the spirit of the revolving door law. Marion said the organization is still deciding whether or not to follow an ethics complaint over Lally's hiring.
Lally was the second-longest serving member of the RI House when he resigned in March, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and his legal practice. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has indicated he offered a recommendation in support of hiring Lally.
An editorial in Wednesday's Providence Journal mentions the Lally case, calling it part of "a familiar odor of political cronyism" at variance with Raimondo's messaging.
This post has been updated.