PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — The state Ethics Commission said Tuesday that it will launch a full investigation into an ethics complaint filed against Gov. Gina Raimondo stemming from a proposed lottery deal she negotiated with IGT.
The Rhode Island Republican Party filed the complaint against Raimondo, claiming she violated ethics laws by secretly negotiating a no-bid contract extension with IGT to provide slot machines and back-end services for both Twin River casino sites.
The GOP argued that the governor shouldn't have negotiated with former IGT executive and current lobbyist Donald Sweitzer because he's now an official with the Democratic Governors Association, which Raimondo leads.
Chairman Ross Cheit said the Ethics Commission voted 6-1 to investigate the allegation.
"The complaint does state facts that if true would constitute a knowing and willful violation of the code," Cheit said.
The part of the ethics code under review is Rhode Island General Law 36-14-5(d):
No person subject to this code of ethics shall use in any way his or her public office or confidential information received through his or her holding any public office to obtain financial gain, other than that provided by law, for him or herself or any person within his or her family, any business associate, or any business by which the person is employed or which the person represents.
The second part of the complaint, dealing with competitive bidding, was dismissed by a vote of 6-1.
"We applaud the Ethics Commission’s decision to throw out one of the two claims filed by the state Republican Party. 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," a statement from the governor's office said.
The governor says the 20-year, $1 billion deal would keep about 1,100 jobs in the state. She has said it's not a done deal and that public hearings should be held before the legislature votes on it.
The state Republican Party urged to the General Assembly not to vote until the ethics investigation is done.