Gordon Fox resigns speakership, won't seek re-election - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Gordon Fox resigns speakership, won't seek re-election

Posted: Updated:
Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox holds the gavel in the House Chamber of the State House, in Providence, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox holds the gavel in the House Chamber of the State House, in Providence, Tuesday, July 2, 2013.
  • Related LinksMore>>

  • Slideshow: Gordon Fox's tenure as speaker

    Slideshow: Gordon Fox's tenure as speaker

    Saturday, March 22 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-03-23 02:32:06 GMT
    Images from Rep. Gordon Fox's tenure as speaker of the House from 2010 to 2014.
    Images from Rep. Gordon Fox's tenure as speaker of the House from 2010 to 2014.
  • Mattiello says he has votes to be next speaker

    Mattiello says he has votes to be next speaker

    Saturday, March 22 2014 8:27 PM EDT2014-03-23 00:27:35 GMT
    Nicholas MattielloNicholas Mattiello
    House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello says he has enough votes to succeed Gordon Fox as speaker.
    House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello says he has enough votes to succeed Gordon Fox as speaker.
  • Full statement from Gordon Fox

    Full statement from Gordon Fox

    Saturday, March 22 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-03-22 22:50:52 GMT
    Rep. Gordon FoxRep. Gordon Fox
    State Rep. Gordon Fox says he is stepping down as speaker of the House and that he won't seek re-election.
    State Rep. Gordon Fox says he is stepping down as speaker of the House and that he won't seek re-election.
  • Analysis: Gordon Fox investigation

    Analysis: Gordon Fox investigation

    NBC 10 political analyst Wendy Schiller adds perspective to the federal raid on the home and office of House Speaker Gordon Fox.
    NBC 10 political analyst Wendy Schiller adds perspective to the federal raid on the home and office of House Speaker Gordon Fox.
  • Speaker Gordon Fox's home, office raided

    Speaker Gordon Fox's home, office raided

    Friday, March 21 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-03-21 21:50:18 GMT
    A Rhode Island state police officer stands guard outside the office of the House Speaker Gordon Fox at the State House in Providence, Friday, March 21, 2014.A Rhode Island state police officer stands guard outside the office of the House Speaker Gordon Fox at the State House in Providence, Friday, March 21, 2014.
    Law enforcement agents spend hours inside the office of House Speaker Gordon Fox.
    Law enforcement agents spend hours inside the office of House Speaker Gordon Fox.
  • Slideshow: Speaker Gordon Fox Investigation

    Slideshow: Speaker Gordon Fox Investigation

    Friday, March 21 2014 1:58 PM EDT2014-03-21 17:58:06 GMT
    FBI agents remove boxes from the home of House Speaker Gordon Fox in Providence, Friday, March, 21, 2014.FBI agents remove boxes from the home of House Speaker Gordon Fox in Providence, Friday, March, 21, 2014.
     Law enforcement officials raid the office and home of House Speaker Gordon Fox as part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office, the FBI, IRS and state police.
     Law enforcement officials raid the office and home of House Speaker Gordon Fox as part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office, the FBI, IRS and state police.
  • RI House Democratic leader calls caucus

    RI House Democratic leader calls caucus

    Friday, March 21 2014 6:59 PM EDT2014-03-21 22:59:37 GMT
    Nicholas MattielloNicholas Mattiello
    Rhode Island House Majority Leader Nick Mattiello says he has called an "informational caucus" for Democrats to talk about the future of the House.
    Rhode Island House Majority Leader Nick Mattiello says he has called an "informational caucus" for Democrats to talk about the future of the House.

Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox is resigning from his leadership post and will not run for re-election, he said Saturday, a day after federal and state authorities raided his State House office and home as part of a criminal investigation that they would not detail.

"Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker," Fox said in a written statement emailed to reporters. "The process of governing must continue and the transition of leadership must be conducted in an orderly manner."

The 52-year-old Providence Democrat, who became the nation's first openly gay House speaker in 2010, said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term through the end of the year, but that "my personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation." It is unclear when Fox will officially resign, but the next scheduled meeting of the House is Tuesday.

Fox has represented Rhode Island's capital in the General Assembly for more than 20 years and is one of the state's most powerful politicians.

The Friday raids were carried out by the U.S. attorney's office, FBI, IRS and state police. Boxes of evidence were carried off after agents spent hours at both his home and office. Officials will not say whom or what they are investigating.

While questions remain about the nature of the investigation and Fox's role in it, his enduring legislative legacy is most likely to be legalizing same-sex marriage. In 2011, he abandoned a legalization push because of opposition in the Senate.

Instead, he pushed civil unions and was roundly criticized by some same-sex marriage supporters, who felt bitter and let down.

But just two years later, Fox was instrumental in pushing same-sex marriage legislation through as the political climate shifted nationally. He became emotional at the bill-signing ceremony on the State House steps last year as he addressed the crowd and talked about his longtime partner, Marcus LaFond, whom he called "the love of my life."

"This tells me our relationship does matter," Fox said. "It means that we mean something."

The two were married last year in Fox's State House office. Fox came out in 2004, in an unplanned announcement, while addressing a same-sex marriage rally at the State House.

Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, a leading advocate for same-sex marriage, clashed at times with Fox over the issue. He recalled Fox's years as majority leader and said he was respected for his ability to cut to the heart of an issue during floor debates.

"People would say, 'I didn't know where I was on an issue until he clarified it for me,'" Ferri said.

The raids immediately set off jockeying among members of the House vying to become the next speaker. On Saturday, shortly after Fox's announcement, Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, his top deputy, said he believes he has enough votes, and expected an election Tuesday.

He said he wished Fox well but that legislators would now be able to "work together to move the House of Representatives and the state forward in a positive direction."

A new speaker would have to be elected in an open House session after Fox submits a resignation letter.

Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick, who is supporting Mattiello as speaker, said Democrats could caucus as soon as Sunday to hammer out the votes.

"It is a sad day for the Rhode Island House of Representatives and the state of Rhode Island," McNamara said. "Speaker Fox had many accomplishments that we should all be proud of. With that said, a transition that does not interrupt the (legislative) process is extremely important."

Rep. John Lombardi, D-Providence, told NBC 10 News that he wants to see change at the top.

"In my opinion, the next House speaker has to be different. I think that person has to be open, needs to be transparent, needs to be predictable, needs to be inclusive, needs to let people know that that type of conduct will not be tolerated -- you're never going to see it again," Lombardi said.

Fox is one of six children born to an Irish-American father and a Cape Verdean mother. His dad polished jewelry and worked odd jobs; his mom worked as a maid. In a 2011 interview with The Associated Press, he recalled the family moving into a new apartment with a view of the State House and how he marveled at the dome.

His father had stressed the importance of education, but Fox was forced to drop out of Providence College when he died. "I felt defeated," he said in a 2010 commencement speech at Rhode Island College. "I was afraid that history was repeating itself."

Fox worked in a bank, scooped ice cream and sold vacuum cleaners. But he ultimately went back to school, enrolling at Rhode Island College — which he said "saved my life" — then attending Northeastern University School of Law on a full scholarship.

Fox in 2012 faced his toughest re-election campaign in years in part because of his support of a $75 million state loan guarantee for former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's video game company, 38 Studios, which later went bankrupt. Earlier this year, he reached a settlement with the state ethics commission for failing to disclose more than $40,000 in legal work for a Providence economic development agency. Fox agreed to pay a $1,500 civil fine.

Powered by WorldNow

23 Kenney Drive
Cranston, R.I., 02920

Telephone: 401.455.9100
Fax: 401.455.9140
Email: news@wjar.com

Can't find something?

NBC 10 Outerwear Provided by:

NBC 10 Media Relations
Provided by:

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.