Statement from Robert Lafleur: PRESSURED RESIGNATION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RI INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
Statement from Robert Lafleur, Former Executive Director of the RI Independent Contractors Association (RIICA)
(This statement was issued earlier today by Robert Lafleur, Former Executive Director of the RI Independent Contractors Association (RIICA), the Center has released a statement on the systematic abuse of power happening within Rhode Island government that can be found here.)
DATE: FEBRUARY 29, 2016
RE; PRESSURED RESIGNATION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RI INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
Robert Lafleur, Executive Director of the RI Independent Contractors Association (RIICA) who led the truck rallies for the association against the Governor’s Toll Bill at the State House a few weeks ago has parted ways with the association effective today, February 29, 2016, as a direct result of intimidation tactics from the General Assembly.
“I have truly enjoyed my experience with the organization and very proud of the progress we made to further the cause of small businesses in RI, a cause and voice that is absent from other business groups in Rhode Island.” Lafleur said.
Lafleur was named Executive Director in June of 2008 at a time when the economy had tanked. He along with a determined board to “weather the storm” as best they could and try to rebuild the RIICA’s membership ranks. Through the years, membership has grown and RIICA was an association representing the true “mom and pop” small businesses that are the backbone of Rhode Island.
Lafleur explained that his departure was “collateral damage” resulting from RIICA’s lobbyist, Terrance Martiesian & Associates cutting ties with the organization on February 11th. On Thursday morning Lafleur explained he called the association President, Mat Olson to tell him how the House vote went and what occurred that evening. Olson then expressed that he had been receiving calls from some members about possible retaliation and that the lobbyist, Martiesian had notified him that he could no longer represent RIICA as he was getting push back from some reps and senators as well as his other larger clients about what we had done and the position we took in opposition to the toll proposal. Olson also told Lafleur that any future legislation that may be submitted may be jeopardized due to the relationship.
“I believe that Terry’s departure was a direct result of the position RIICA took and the bullying and “whisper campaign” that goes on behind the scenes up at the State House.” Lafleur said. “Never in my many years of involvement at the State House have I ever seen a more toxic culture of intimidation and fear-mongering by the leadership.”
Lafleur also cited the support of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce for the Toll Bill, while not one business member was represented at the press conference held by them.
“I find it amazing that an organization like the Chamber of Commerce who is supposed to be the voice of business, knelt down and kissed the rings of the Governor, Speaker and Senate President in support of the tolls, while not having a single business representative stand with them.” Lafleur stressed.
Lafleur said the climate and culture at the State House has gotten worse over the last few years. In echoing what many have believed for years, that if you don’t go along; don’t expect much help with your district- “that has to change and has to change now,” Lafleur said.
Lafleur reiterated his support for RIICA, the officers, board members and members who as small businesses need to have an effective voice on Smith Hill. “I hope and remain confident that RIICA along with the majority of residents of Rhode Island who opposed the Toll Bill despite the smoke and mirrors rhetoric by the Governor, Speaker and Senate President will not forget those who walked the walk and supported the most anti-business bill to come out of the State House-the Toll Bill,” Lafleur concluded.