Representative Marshall’s campaign finance admissions seen as a failure of House leadership

Kenneth Marshall

Critics of Speaker Nicholas Mattiello‘s leadership of the Rhode Island House of Representatives are pointing to the admissions of Representative Kenneth Marshall (Democrat, District 68, Bristol) as proof of the Speaker’s poor judgement and inability to reform a broken system. According to Katherine Gregg at the Providence Journal, Marshall failed to report over $11,000 in campaign donations and used his campaign account to pay for personal trip to a resort in Florida. Marshall is the vice-chair of the House Finance Committee. This is the second time Marshall has run afoul of the Rhode Island Board of Elections, having paid a $500 fine in 2016.

Marshall’s admissions have spurred responses from both Republicans and Democrats.

Steven Frias, the Republican candidate for Speaker Mattiello’s District 15 seat in Cranston, says that “Marshall had no business being appointed to a leadership position on House Finance or for that matter, being appointed Co-Chair of the study commission on the line-item veto.”

Frias goes on to say that, “Mattiello has a high tolerance for bad behavior. He previously appointed Gallison and Carnevale to leadership positions on House Finance despite the legal problems in their past.” John Carnevale did not seek re-election to his seat in the House after the Providence Board of Canvassers determined he did not live in the district he represented and Carnevale was charged with perjury. Raymond Gallison is currently in prison for stealing from his law clients.

Nate Carpenter, state coordinator for the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, filed the original complaint with the Rhode Island Board of Elections on June 20.

“These findings are nothing new and reflect an ongoing problem with some of the most powerful legislators here in Rhode Island,” said Carpenter in a statement. “Constituents should not have to worry about the honesty or integrity of our elected officials and we should not have to spend our own time trying to keep these individuals in check. No person is above the law and we must hold them accountable for their actions. May I remind you that this is Marshall’s second major offense and we cannot have different rules for politicians who think they can do whatever want and not face the consequences. It is time to elect men and women who are honest, transparent and forthcoming. I’d also like to thank to Board of Elections for their ongoing investigation.”

Marshall is not seeking re-election. In that race, now an open seat, Laufton Ascencao and Andrew Tyska are running in the Democratic primary, and one of them will face Libertarian William James Hunt Jr in the general election.

Here’s the full statement from Frias:

According to the Providence Journal, House Finance Vice Chairman Representative Kenneth Marshall failed to report over $11,000 in campaign donations and used his campaign account to pay for personal trip to a resort in Florida. In 2016, Representative Marshall was fined $500 by the Board of Elections for misreporting over $5,000 in campaign donations. In 2017, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello appointed Representative Marshall to be Vice Chairman of House Finance after the prior House Finance Vice Chairman Representative John Carnevale could not run for reelection. During the 2016 election, Speaker Mattiello promised voters a vetting process for House leadership positions (Providence Business News 9/8/16) while Steven Frias called for rank and file House members to have a greater say over House committee assignments (Cranston Herald 9/1/16).

Steven Frias, candidate for Representative District 15, commented: “In 2016, Speaker Mattiello promised a vetting process for appointments to House leadership positions. Instead we got Marshall, who we have learned is the latest member of Mattiello’s team unable to follow the law. Prior to his appointment to this leadership post, Marshall had shown he was unable to properly oversee his own campaign account. Marshall had no business being appointed to a leadership position on House Finance or for that matter, being appointed Co-Chair of the study commission on the line-item veto. Mattiello has a high tolerance for bad behavior. He previously appointed Gallison and Carnevale to leadership positions on House Finance despite the legal problems in their past. More recently, Mattiello’s own PAC illegally spent $72,000 to benefit his re-election and one of his top campaign aides engaged illegal coordination.”

Frias concluded: “There is simply too much power concentrated in the Speakership and Speaker Mattiello does not have good judgment to exercise that power. Rank and file members of the House should be able to vote on committee assignments and the leadership positions for these committees. Unless the appointment process is reformed and becomes more open, Rhode Island will continue to be embarrassed by its State House politicians.”


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