Minutes September 25, 2018 MINUTES OF THE OPEN SESSION OF THE RHODEISLAND ETHICS COMMISSION September 25, 2018 The Rhode Island Ethics Commission held its 16th meeting of 2018 at 9:00 a.m. at the Rhode Island Ethics Commission conference room, located at 40 Fountain Street, 8th Floor, Providence, Rhode Island, on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, pursuant to the notice published at the Commission offices, the State House Library, and electronically with the Rhode Island Secretary of State. The following Commissioners were present: Ross Cheit, ChairArianne Corrente Marisa A. Quinn, Vice ChairJohn D. Lynch, Jr.* Robert A. Salk, SecretaryTimothy Murphy J. Douglas BennettJames V. Murray The following Commissioner(s) were not present: M. Therese Antone. Also present were Herbert F. DeSimone, Jr., Commission Legal Counsel; Jason Gramitt, Commission Executive Director; Katherine D’Arezzo, Senior Staff Attorney; Lynne Radiches, Staff Attorney/Education Coordinator; Staff Attorneys Teresa Giusti and Teodora Popova Papa; and Commission Investigators Steven T. Cross; Peter J. Mancini; and Gary V. Petrarca. At 9:04 a.m., the Chair opened the meeting.The first order of business was: Approval of minutes of the Open Session held on September 11, 2018. Upon motion made by Commissioner Quinn and duly seconded by Commissioner Murphy, it was VOTED: To approve the minutes of the Open Session held on September 11, 2018. AYES:Ross Cheit; Arianne Corrente; Timothy Murphy; Marisa A. Quinn; and Robert A. Salk. ABSTENTIONS: J. Douglas Bennett and James V. Murray. The next order of business was: Advisory Opinions. The advisory opinion was based on a draft advisory opinion prepared by Commission Staff for review by the Commission and was scheduled as an item on the Open Session Agenda for this date. The only advisory opinion was that of: Paul DiModica, a member of the Cumberland School Committee, requests an advisory opinion regarding whether the Code of Ethics prohibits him from participating in the School Committee’s vote regarding: (1) the ratification of the Cumberland Teachers’ Association contract, given that his spouse is a member of the Teachers’ Association; and (2) layoffs and rehires of teachers, given that his spouse is a teacher in the Cumberland School District. Staff Attorney Radiches presented the Commission Staff recommendation.The Petitioner was not present.In response to Chair Cheit, Staff Attorney Radiches stated that she spoke to the Petitioner upon his receipt of the draft advisory opinion and he expressed no issues or concerns.Upon motionmade by Commissioner Murphy and duly seconded by Commissioner Murray, it was unanimously VOTED: To issue an advisory opinion, attached hereto, to Paul DiModica, a member of the Cumberland School Committee. Executive Session. At 9:11 a.m., uponmotion made by Commissioner Murphy and duly seconded by Commissioner Quinn, it was unanimously VOTED:To go into Executive Session, to wit: 1. Motion to approve the minutes of the Executive Session held on September 11, 2018, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(a)(2) and (4). 2. In re: Glen Skurka, Complaint No. 2017-10, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(a)(2) and (4). *Commissioner Lynch arrived at 9:20 a.m. 3. In re: William C. Perry, Complaint No. 2018-4, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(a)(2) and (4). 4. In re: Gayle Corrigan, Complaint No. 2018-5, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(a)(2) and (4). 5. Motion to return to Open Session. At 9:58 a.m., the Commission reconvened in Open Session. The next order of business was: Report on actions taken in Executive Session. Chair Cheit reported that the Commission took the following actions in Executive Session: 1. Voted (5-0) to approve the minutes of the Executive Session held on September 11, 2018. [Reporter’s Note:The vote was as follows: AYES:Ross Cheit; Arianne Corrente; Timothy Murphy; Marisa A. Quinn; and Robert A. Salk. ABSTENTIONS:J. Douglas Bennett; John D. Lynch, Jr.; and James V. Murray.] 2. Voted (5-3) in the matter of In re: Glen Skurka, Complaint No. 2017-10, to approve a proposed Informal Resolution and Settlement, as amended. 3. Unanimously voted (8-0) in the matter of In re: William C. Perry, Complaint No. 2018-4, to find that probable cause does not exist to believe that the Respondent violated the Code of Ethics by serving in a supervisory role over his brother, James M. Perry, within the same platoon of the East Greenwich Fire Department. 4. Unanimously voted (8-0) in the matter of In re: Gayle Corrigan, Complaint No. 2018-5, to enlarge time for sixty days. The next order of business was: Motion to seal minutes of Executive Session held on September 25, 2018. Upon motion made by Commissioner Murray and duly seconded by Commissioner Murphy, it was unanimously VOTED:To seal the minutes of the Executive Session held on September 25, 2018. The next order of business was: Discussion of 520-RICR-00-00-3.11 Finding of Probable Cause (1006) and procedure for release of Investigative Report. Executive Director Gramitt stated that the amendments to Regulation 1006 will take effect October 3, 2018.He further stated that the Commission declined to adopt language prohibiting the release of investigative reports.He requested that the Commission direct the Staff as to whether investigative reports should be released going forward in a redacted or unredacted form.Executive Director Gramitt informed that from the adoption of Regulation 1006 in 1993 until 2001, the Commission released unredacted investigative reports.In the 2001 Gaschen case, Judge Silverstein ordered the redaction of all references to investigatory records in the Investigative Report before it could be released.The Commission continued the redaction of investigative reports until 2006 or 2007 when Executive Director Willever determined that the practice of redaction was not required, and investigative reports were released unredacted. Executive Director Gramitt requested the Commission’s direction as to whether, going forward, investigative reports should be redacted before they are released.In response to Chair Cheit, Executive Director Gramitt stated that the Access to Public Records Act (“APRA”) never requires redaction but, instead, gives an agency permission to redact in certain enumerated instances.Chair Cheit commented that the purpose of releasing investigative reports is undermined if the reports are first redacted.Executive Director Gramitt referred to the ACLU’s position that the statute does not prohibit the release of investigative reports.In response to Legal Counsel DeSimone, Executive Director Gramitt informed that, unlike Gaschen, currently, the release of investigative reports does not include the release of any attachments. Executive Director Gramitt proposed that when the Commission dismisses a case at probable cause, the Staff can release the investigative report upon issuance of the written decision drafted by Legal Counsel explaining the basis for dismissal.The Commission agreed with releasing the decision and investigative report together.Legal Counsel DeSimone stated that the Commission’s written decision in a given matter will track the investigative report and incorporate any discussion that ensued on the part of the Commission.Executive Director Gramitt noted that the process of releasing the investigative report along with the Commission’s written decision will be especially important in cases where the Commission does not agree with the prosecution’s recommendation of probable cause and decides to dismiss a matter.Chair Cheit stated that decisions regarding redaction and the release of investigative reports should be made by the Commission going forward. The next order of business was: Director’s Report: Status report and updates. a.) Complaints and investigations There are six substantive complaints pending. b.) Advisory opinions There are four advisory opinions pending. c.) Financial Disclosure Discussion of online public access to financial disclosure statements, and the compliance rates for 2017 and candidate filings relative to 2018 elections. Executive Director Gramitt informed that the compliance rate for 2017 filings is closing in on 94% and there are about 80 non-filers.He stated that the Staff will begin the process of filing non-filing complaints soon. Executive Director Gramitt noted that he spoke with the IT vendor and the process for making 2017 financial disclosure statements accessible online is on track for completion before the November election. d.) Regulations Filing and effective date of amendment to 520-RICR-00-00-3.11 Finding of Probable Cause (1006). Executive Director Gramitt informed that the amendments to the Regulation will take effect October 3, 2018. e.) Access to Public Records Act requests since last meeting Seventeen APRA requests were received since the last meeting, 15 of which were granted within one business day, one of which required more time, and one of which was denied on the basis that it sought confidential, investigatory material. In response to Commissioner Corrente, Executive Director Gramitt explained that there is no procedure currently in place for informing filers that the 2017 financial disclosure statements will be accessible online, but notice will be provided before the next filing for 2018.Commissioner Corrente stated that notice should also be provided to the 2017 filers through social media, a press release, or email.Discussion ensued as to the means for notifying 2017 filers.Executive Director Gramitt proposed working with the press to provide notice, sending mailings, and emailing those whose email addresses are on file.Chair Cheit advised Executive Director Gramitt to make reasonable efforts to notify filers.Commissioner Quinn commented that Brian Daniels of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns may also be able to assist. The final order of business was: New Business. There was no new business. At 10:18 a.m., upon motion made by Commissioner Bennett and duly seconded by Commissioner Murphy, it was unanimously VOTED: To adjourn. Respectfully submitted, ______________________________ Robert A. Salk Secretary  Regulation 36-14-1006 now corresponds to Regulation 520-RICR-00-00-3.11 Finding of Probable Cause (1006).