The Block Island Times

Complaints against Gaffett move forward

Spier stays on Planning Board
By Stephanie Turaj | Feb 22, 2013
Photo by: Kari Curtis Town Hall.

Rhode Island Deputy Chief Investigator Peter Mancini said on Wednesday that the R.I. Ethics Commission (RIEC) has authorized a full investigation into all three ethics complaints made against First Warden Kim Gaffett. The announcement came after the Commission’s Feb. 19 meeting.

The investigation may next proceed into a “probable cause” hearing, Mancini said.

At Wednesday’s Town Council meeting, Gaffett said that she has been offered an opportunity to provide comments, and she intends to do so.

Three island residents filed complaints with the RIEC over the past month.

The first two complaints, filed in January by R. Bruce Montgomery and Arlene Tunney, claim that Gaffett violated ethics rules when she took part in a vote to appoint her brother-in-law, John Spier, to the town Planning Board in January. The motion had passed 3-1. Gaffett, Norris Pike and Chris Warfel were the aye votes; Ken Lacoste was the nay vote. Sean McGarry recused himself because he felt Gaffett’s vote was unethical.

At the Town Council meeting Wednesday, Feb. 20, Gaffett said the Council could reconsider that vote, but only a Town Council member who voted for the motion could call a re-vote. Gaffett recused herself from making the motion, and neither Pike nor Warfel would make a motion to re-call the vote. The original vote stood.

A third, and unrelated, ethics complaint, brought by Peter Saxon on Feb. 7, says Gaffett was negotiating a management contract with Block Island Health Services (BIHS), at the same time BIHS secretary Kay Lewis was helping Gaffett with her re-election campaign.

Gaffett filed a formal response to the first two complaints, explaining her actions and also claiming various factual inaccuracies in Tunney’s allegations. She also filed a response to Saxon’s complaint. (See, Featured Letter).

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