STATEMENT: Center Decries Smith Hill Abuse of Power; Oversight Committee Vows Probe

February 29, 2016

Political Intimidation Leads to Private Sector Ousters
House Oversight Committee Chair Vows to Initiate Probe

Providence, RI — Following an alarming announcement this morning about political retribution on private industry, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity praises House Oversight Committee Chair, Karen Macbeth (D, Cumberland) for vowing to initiate a probe into this incident as well as other possible coercive and unethical tactics deployed by political insiders.

Per a media release issued this morning by Bob LaFleur, former executive director for the RI Independent Contractors Association (RIICA), which opposed the recently passed toll plan, General Assembly leaders issued threats to RIICA’s paid lobbyist, who then terminated his relationship with the Association, in turn leading to the ouster of LaFleur. In his release, LaFleur referred to the tactics as “bullying” and “fear-mongering”.

“This is a dangerous time for democracy in our state. Such abuse of power – apparently now routinely used by the political class via intimidation of those who express honest disagreement with their special-interest agenda – must be exposed and halted,” urged Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center, pointing to an article published today by the The Ocean State Current. “After the betrayal by the Providence Chamber of Commerce of the larger business community, we have been contacted by business owner after business owner who want to speak out against anti-business policies, who are disgusted that there is no legitimate voice of the business community, but also, who have real fears about political retribution. This is unacceptable, unethical, and potentially criminal.”

Representative Karen MacBeth

When contacted by the Center to determine if this corruption of the democratic process might be a topic of interest for her oversight committee, Macbeth issued the following statement: “I am all-in for clean government. When private citizens have the courage to come forward, they must know that some in their government will be there for them.”

The Center calls on other businesses and individuals, who may have similarly experienced attempts to have their voices silenced, to step forward by contacting the Center or Macbeth’s committee.

The statement from Robert Lafluer can be found here.