Representative Robert Lancia Introduces Legislation to Create an Office of Inspector General to Help Root Out Political Corruption
STATE HOUSE -- Representative Robert Lancia (R-District 16 Cranston) has introduced legislation (H 5091), which if passed, would create an office of Inspector General.
Representative Lancia’s legislation would establish the office of Inspector General as an independent administrative agency charged with the responsibility to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in the expenditure of public funds.
“In recent weeks and months, Rhode Islanders have seen the arrest and incarceration of several key legislators, including former Chair of the House Finance Committee Ray Gallison, who the US Attorney and Attorney General announced is pleading guilty to fraud, identity theft, and tax evasion,” said Rep. Lancia.
“In 2006, Minority Leader Patricia Morgan filed an ethics complaint against Gallison for receiving legislative grants for his nonprofit, Alternative Educational Programming. He voted, as a Representative, on the very budgets that helped pay his salary. Furthermore, by creating this independent position we are saying to taxpayers that we are serious about spending their money wisely. An Inspector General would have required documentation that proved the money was being used appropriately, but we don’t have one, so he was able to steal over $2 million from taxpayers,” he added.
“I concur with Representative Lancia. We see two House Finance Chairmen incarcerated, including former Speaker of the House Gordon Fox and now it looks like Rep. Gallison is on his way there,” said Minority Leader Morgan.
“There is a desperate need for a state independent arm with the legal authority to investigate, prosecute and impose penalties for fraud, waste and abuse as there is at the federal level. The Inspector General’s job would be to find the waste. Our state currently has an Auditor General who does investigations and gives findings, but then those findings sit there static. An IG, who was independently appointed, beholden to no one, including the Governor or the Speaker of the House, would recommend more actions to be taken to tighten up our fiscal house,” she added.
A bill to create an office of Inspector General was originally introduced in 2015 by former state Rep. Dan Reilly who said he was tired of hearing stories of state government ineptitude, leading to wasteful spending.
“There were three stories of political corruption, hitting the news recently, when one is too many. Former state Rep. John Carnevale is being accused by the Attorney General’s office of lying under oath to the Providence Board of Canvassers during hearings to determine his residency,” stated Rep. Lancia. “Also, we see former state Rep. Peter Palumbo being charged with stealing from his campaign fund. I want the public to know that, I for one, am not interested in the fox watching the hen house, we need an independent investigator into matters of conflict of interest.”
Representative Ken Mendonça, who cosponsored the legislation said, “The state has a $9 Billion dollar budget and there should be an office with the ability to monitor and audit contracts to ensure that the taxpayers are getting the products and services that they paid for and not pay a penny more. The Office of Inspector General will be that watchdog for the taxpayer. I’m a firm believer that if an initiative has a history of success elsewhere, such as our Massachusetts neighbors, then we should assess that model, tailor it and implement it as we have done with House Bill 5091.”
There are 73 federal offices of Inspector General across the United States. That’s an increase of 12 in the last year.
Sponsors include Representatives Sherry Roberts (R-District 29 Coventry, West Greenwich), Ken Mendonça (R-District 72 Middletown, Portsmouth), Brian C. Newberry (R-District 48 North Smithfield, Burrillville) and Mike Chippendale (R-District 40 Foster, Glocester, Coventry).
For more information, contact:
Raina C. Smith, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903