Rhode Island Ethics Commission Votes to Investigate Democrat Gov. Gina Raimondo over Complaint

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo chairs a plenary session entitled "The Workforce of Tomorrow" on the third day of the National Governors Association's meeting Saturday, July 15, 2017, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Stephan Savoia/AP Photo

A Tuesday morning vote by the state’s Ethics Commission has led to the imminent investigation of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) over dealings with gaming giant International Game Technology (IGT), the same company that runs the state lottery.

Last month, the Rhode Island Republican Party filed a complaint against Raimondo and claimed she violated state ethics by negotiating a 20-year contract extension with IGT to run lottery and casino games. Also cited in the complaint was Raimondo’s relationship with lobbyist and former IGT Chairman Don Sweitzer.

Raimondo, who serves as the current chair for the Democratic Governors Association, selected Sweitzer to fill the role of treasurer for the group.

“The decision to investigate does not address the validity of the complaint; rather, it merely indicates that the allegations properly fall under the provisions of the Code of Ethics,” the commission’s website stated. “Neither the complainant nor the respondent participates in the initial determination.”

The commission also voted to dismiss a related complaint that questioned why the original IGT deal was not put out to bid.

Jonathan Berkon, a Raimondo lawyer, weighed in on the commission’s vote afterward, saying he believes the investigation will find that the “complaint has no merit.”

“We applaud the Ethics Commission’s decision to throw out one of the two claims filed by the state Republican Party,” Berkon said in a statement. “We are confident that when the Ethics Commission reviews the facts relating to the other claim, it will once again conclude this latest partisan complaint has no merit.”

After the vote, Republicans said they were pleased with the decision and insisted that no vote should be cast by the legislature until the investigation is complete.

More information on the complaints filed against Raimondo can be found here.

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