Advisory Opinion No. 98-146


Re: Gordon M. Smith, Esq.


The Petitioner, a West Warwick Prosecutor, a municipal appointed position requests an advisory opinion as to whether he may also serve as Chairperson of the West Warwick Democratic Town Committee.


It is the opinion of the Ethics Commission that the Code of Ethics does not bar the Petitioner, a West Warwick Prosecutor, a municipal appointed official, from serving as the prosecutor representing the Town of West Warwick in state and municipal court proceedings, a municipal appointed position, while he also serves as Chair of the Town’s Democratic Town Committee. The general prohibitions contained in the Code of Ethics do not require that public officials or employees, including prosecutors, be without partisan political affiliations. Indeed, the State’s highest law enforcement official, the Attorney General, typically has been an elected member of either the Democratic of Republican political party. Here, the Petitioner holds a position with the Town of West Warwick’s Democratic Party. That involvement has no direct connection with or influence on his responsibilities as a prosecutor handling cases in the West Warwick Municipal Court and the state’s Third Division District Court. As a result, no conflicts of interest prevent him from continuing with these prosecuting duties.

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