RI Board of Elections fires executive director Kando

Robert Kando

The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted 4-2 on Wednesday to fire embattled Executive Director Robert Kando, effective immediately.

Kando had been suspended twice since the beginning of this year. Several board members have not been satisfied with his job performance.

“We're looking for someone with some innovation and we wanted to make the move before the election,” Richard DuBois, who is the chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Elections, told NBC 10 News.

Yet, there's more to it.

Kando has run the day-to-day operations at the Board of Elections for more than 10 years. But last year, the board threatened to fire him if his performance did not improve.

The board suspended Kando and ordered him to take basic managerial classes. Board members then suspended him again when he didn't sign up for those classes.

Kando, who made more than $140,000 a year, had been back on the job for several months.

“And it's nothing personal. It's business. It's just business. It's not personal,” DuBois said. “I personally like Bob. He's a nice guy, (but) he's not my choice to run the show right now.”

Kando has not commented on the controversy. While he was not in the room when the board voted to fire him, his lawyers were. But they aren't saying yet whether they'll fight the firing.

“I think that the process was flawed,” Richard Sinapi, Kando's lawyer, said. “I think there's due process issues and perhaps open meetings violations.”

John Marion, who is the head of government watchdog group Common Cause, said there have been bumps along the way and questions about whether Kando had the qualifications for the job in the first place.

Still, he questions the timing of the firing.

“We'll know in two weeks if they're able to pull off the election if it was bad,” Marion said. “In the long run, I think it's good. His tenure has been controversial for a decade.”

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