September 20, 2011

Should Rep. Dan Gordon Be Forced Out?

Patrick Laverty

Dan Gordon is the embattled RI State Representative from District 71, representing Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton now facing calls for his resignation. According to the Providence Journal, he will "absolutely not" step down.

That would seem there are only a couple other options to forcibly remove him from office. There was previously some mention of a 2/3 vote (of whom?) that could remove him. I cannot find any mention of this in the RIGL or the RI House Rules that would allow the General Assembly or just the House to take a vote and remove Gordon from office. I do see that the Ethics Commission may remove someone by way of a 2/3 vote of the Commission. However, former Senator William Irons' court case basically gutted the Commission of its power and in response, the Commission hasn't been taking on big issues since. Plus, the Ethics Commission's focus has been on when politicians financially benefit from their position in power. That does not appear to be the case here.
The other option would be for the voters of his district to request a recall election. The rules for such are spelled out in the RI Constitution in Article IV, Section 1. One of the stated requirements for a recall is

Recall is authorized in the case of a general officer who has been indicted or informed against for a felony, convicted of a misdemeanor, or against whom a finding of probable cause of violation of the code of ethics has been made by the ethics commission.
Also, the time frame for recalling a State Rep is extremely small.
Recall shall not, however be instituted at any time during the first six (6) months or the last year of an individual's term of office.
So based on that timeframe, recall is out of the question from January to June of this year and from January to December of 2012. That leaves a timeframe of July 1 to December 31 of this year.

I am not advocating for the recall of Gordon, but I think if he is no longer in office, it should only be by one of two ways, voluntary resignation or the voters of his district make the choice.

It seems that the situation happening is conflating multiple charges. The most serious charges against him were lodged and some later dropped, and his time in prison was all before he was elected. Did the voters of District 71 know about that when they chose him? I can't answer for each one, but this is yet another example of misinformed voters and apathetic voters. It's a shame when voters go to the polls and vote with very little information, often not much more than looking at the party designation. If voters aren't going to do their homework on their candidates, that's on them.

Lastly, what are the charges that are causing such a stir now? What has risen to the point where both Gordon Fox and Brian Newberry have called for Dan Gordon's ouster? According to the Providence Journal

eluding the police and three other motor vehicle violations.
So let's be serious here. These are two separate issues. The voters elected him with the serious charges and jail time, in his past. The current charges are motor vehicle violations, and still, he hasn't even been convicted. That is what we want to remove an elected representative over?

Should Gordon be forced out of office? That's not for me to decide. That's for the people he represents, the people of RI House District 71.

Updated: Andrew and commenter John Marion informed me that the House can in fact remove a member by a 2/3 vote according to Article VI, Section 7

Rules of houses -- Contempt. -- Each house may determine its rules of proceeding, punish contempts, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member; but not a second time for the same cause.
However, my point stands, based on the current charges, I believe the only ones to remove Gordon from office should be either Gordon himself or the people who elected him.

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I agree - allowing his fellow politicos the right to eject him sets a bad precedent that could be easily abused.
It's great to see a bigot and, if what I read today is true, domestic abuser get his. Kudos to the minority leader for realizing this guy's actions are indefensible.

Posted by: bella at September 20, 2011 10:41 AM

I'm no Gordon fan, but I think it's important to understand that people can end up with charges on them that pile-up quite easily. Once the police think you're a 'wife-beater', they'll pay close attention to you and you'll find yourself getting pulled over more often and charged with minor things that other people would get a pass on.

I myself have 'spent the night downtown' once for a scary-sounding charge, even though I was the one who called the police. Luckily, the charge was dropped and expunged because it was clear that I wasn't acting out of malice.

Gordon's case -appears- more serious, a pattern of events that show an inability to 'integrate' well while working under pressure, but I think it's important to at least let him explain and apologize for the stuff in his record. Maybe this was all part of his 'younger life' or reintegration after serving in the Marines.

A criminal record alone (especially one that doesn't involve financial crimes, but more 'interpersonal' and emotional issues) should raise questions, but not disqualify. What bothers me isn't his history, it's his actions now. I just don't feel that he can work with others, but that's an issue between his district and him. I encourage him to meet with his constituents; if they don't like what he has to say, begin recall procedures.

Posted by: mangeek at September 20, 2011 11:10 AM

The 2/3rds vote would be of the House. It's in the RI Constitution:

Article IV Section 7. Rules of houses -- Contempt. -- Each house may determine its rules of proceeding, punish contempts, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member; but not a second time for the same cause.

Posted by: John Marion at September 20, 2011 12:17 PM

I am not a lawyer, and I am certainly no defender of Representative Gordon's politics or conduct, but I think your interpretation of Article IV, Sec. 1 of the RI Constitution may be incorrect with regard to recall of members of the general assembly.

The language of the section regarding recall appears to apply only to general officers of the state, not to members of the general assembly. The enumerated general officers are: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney-general, and general treasurer. (The same general officers are enumerated in Sec. 17-2-1 of the RI General Laws.)

The detailed provisions of Article IV, Sec. 1, which you quote in part, describe the recall and special election provision as they appear to apply only to general officers.

Sec. 17-3-6 of the RI General Laws provides for special elections to fill vacancies in the general assembly "for any cause," but it does not provide for recall.

The House may be able to remove a representative under the provisions of Article VI, Sec. 7, as you suggest. It is not clear, though, that the voters of House District 71 have legal recourse under the RI Constitution or by statute to recall or remove a representative.

Posted by: Larry at September 20, 2011 12:58 PM

Larry may just be on to a gap in laws that protects state legislatures. Not too long ago Smithfield held a recall election for a councilman but the recall procedure is written into their code of ordinances. While it does say "members of the Town Council and School Committee and other elected officials," does a town ordinance have the force of law for a member of the GA whose district covers multiple communities? If state legislators are not outlined in Article IV, Sec. 1, is there any authority for a recall election?

Posted by: Max Diesel at September 20, 2011 1:44 PM

I think Larry is correct that the recall provision in the RI Constitution applies only to General Officers, not to Members of the General Assembly.

Posted by: brassband at September 20, 2011 1:45 PM

I mistakenly wrote Article IV instead of Article VI. If you look at Article VI, which is titled "Of the legislative power" they are clearly referring to the power to oust members of the Assembly.

Posted by: John Marion at September 20, 2011 2:15 PM

Gordon is great. As far as I can tell his voting record is 100% right. We could use another 100 up there just like him.
So he has a few driving infractions and some (mostly proven false) cases from a million years ago of girlfriends telling tales. Big deal. Ray "make that a double" Sullivan was convicted of drunk driving while a SITTING legislator and the only "punishment" he got was a 6 figure job with Wheels Langevin.
Don't go away Dan! We need you for the pension fight. We the TEA party support you 100%. The Kool-Aid party wants you out to implement its union supremacist pro sodomite agenda.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 20, 2011 8:17 PM

Oh, and if we're going to play the game of starting to judge pols on the basis of what they allegedly done, in past decades in other jurisdictions, should it be pointed out that the disease spreading, stomach turning acts of sodomy committed by so many (too many) of the state's "progressives" would, in much of the world cause them to imprisoned at best and beheaded by sword in the town square at worst?

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 20, 2011 8:24 PM

Comment deleted - Isn't who he claimed to be and inflammatory accusations

Posted by: ---------- at September 20, 2011 8:33 PM

I am afraid Gordon has to go, any popularity cannot be allowed to save him. All legislators are "Ceasar's Wife", if he has taken "unlawful flight" from Massachusetts, that's it.

Nice knowin ya, but I can't take the embarassment.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 20, 2011 9:19 PM

Hmmm. Arrested 18 times. I think of the Shawshank Redemption...everyone in prison thinks they're innocent. But if you've been arrested 18 times, chances are very good you've gotten away with a helluva lot more. It will be very interesting to see what dribbles out of the woodwork over the next few weeks if Gordon decides to tough it out.

I'm sure there have been a lot of cases where people took one look at him and thought reporting him to the police wasn't worth the effort. That's changed now.

And did you catch any of his radio interviews today? Gordon thinks/acts like it's funny, as if it will blow over someday, as if complaining about Fox or Newberry or Ted Kennedy will get people to forget his plight.

Advice to Rep. Dan: quit while you're ahead. Go back to being a strange private person, instead of a strange and loathed public person. If you try to hang on, it can only get worse for you.

Posted by: Bill O'Wrights at September 20, 2011 10:19 PM

Several years ago, adddiction was defined as a sickness.

Here's a Consistency Test for everyone who agreed with this new definition.

Rep Gordon has stated that his eighteen arrests and two convictions were a result of behavior that stemmed from an addiction to alcohol. (On the Matt Allen Show last night, he referenced "self medicating" and said that it is an ongoing struggle.)

So. Question for those (especially Rhode Island lefties who are not fond of Republicans) who agree with the redefinition of addiction as sickness. You're not condemning Rep Gordon, are you? In fact, you're going to stand up and say, "Leave him alone. He has a sickness. There's no need for him to resign."


Posted by: Monique at September 21, 2011 8:25 AM

What infraction has he committed as a SITTING legislator?
None. Even that lousy speeding ticket was BEFORE he took office.
Hang in their Dan-they are only gunning for you because you are right on all the issues. TEA supports you 100%.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 21, 2011 9:47 AM

If he goes to jail again, does that make him automatically kicked out of the house?

This post and the comments fail to mention the crimes he has committed.

6 Times!
Possession of drugs.
And many more!

"Gordon allegedly strangled his girlfriend, leaving red marks around her throat. The police reports said the girlfriend claimed "he tried to kill me" by putting his hand on her mouth and nose. "

Let's not whitewash this. These are not fabricated charges. These are police and court reports.

If Rhodys are going to defend the man, at least stand up and say that you know the extent of his crimes.

My goodness. It makes it easy to see how thugs took over some countries with violence. Please - please - get on the right side of this issue. You are embarrassing yourselves. This will harm our cause in the next election.

Posted by: RiPatriot at September 21, 2011 10:41 AM

"These are not fabricated charges. These are police and court reports."

Oooh, I have so much confidence in the unionized cops and cronies in the DA's office.
By the way the ATTEMPTED MURDER (to use your caps) never even made it to a formal case-that's how fabricated it was.
The ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON we don't know. Throwing (or allegedly throwing)a pencil at someone would qualify. Women do tell tales against men they have beefs with ya know. It's not like he killed a CCRI professor in a brutal hate crime...
All this was from prior decades, some in another millenium. Even the (horrors!) speeding ticket was long before he was elected.
What infraction has he committed since being elected?
In fact he has voted the right away on every issue. In favor of decent working people and against the cronies, hacks, perverts, union pigs, illegal aliens, etc.
On every issue.
T.E.A. people need to support him down the line.
When all the sodomites and admitted cocaine felons (Nobama, Chafee, Whitehouse, etc. on the Left resign, then we can talk about Dan's years old domestic squabbles in another state, real or fabricated.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 21, 2011 1:44 PM

"These are not fabricated charges. These are police and court reports."

I lol'd. Police and prosecutors overcharge every case because it makes it easier to reach a plea deal. Apparently most of the charges were dropped, including ATTEMPTED MURDER (ooh, scary). Basically a dropped attempted murder charge means you got in a scuffle and somebody got hit in the head.

Not defending the man. He can resign for all I care, although I'd put a lot of other legislators in front of him in that line.

At least, to my knowledge, Gordon hasn't created dozens of fake names online to smear and libel other people for personal and political reasons. More than we can say of Bill O'Rights/RiPatriot/etc.,etc. Takes a special kind of lowlife to stoop to that level of dishonesty.

P.S. Your trolls aren't even convincing. They read like union press releases.

Posted by: Dan at September 21, 2011 2:30 PM

As a GOP state committee member, I contacted Ken McKay, our state GOP Chiar to put this on our next state committee agenda. I have informed Rep. Gordon, who I am not acquainted with a copy of the e-mail.
I hope the Democratic State Chair reflects on the North Providence situation which multiple local Democrats have been involved in serious breaches of public trust.
Hopefully some fairness in dealing with behavior of public officials be done. At present, I do not know if Rep. Gordon is a state committee member but I know Portsmouth Republicans have taken action. The state central committee should have some response as a body not just our state chairman on the Gordon matter.

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at September 21, 2011 2:32 PM

Monique, to answer your question - addiction is a disease, and heroin addicts should not be put in jail - unless they physically harm a person. Then, they should be locked up.

Understand? That is a consistent view.

Alcoholics who drink and drive and kill people should be charged and convicted and locked up. Those who are simply drunk every night and maybe shout too loudly should be helped.

I fear that more violence is in the future for this man. That is how he deals with things. I hope I am wrong.

As to locking up any and every criminal who abuses the public trust, I'm all in for that.

Monique - repeat this. Violence. Violence. Violence against persons. Violence against Women. Choke marks on neck. Repeat.

Addiction is a disease. Violent behavior by an individual...not quite the same. Do you agree?

Posted by: RiPatriot at September 21, 2011 4:43 PM

I can't believe the hypocrisy. Kennedy (the whole family), most of the general assembly has been eyeballed by the feds, and this guy has some issues which he has worked through, and it's let's throw him under the bus. If he has alcohol and emotional problems, he has to stay in treatment. I'd take Dan Gordon over most of the other crazies in the statehouse.

Posted by: Kathy at September 21, 2011 5:20 PM

Gordon should absolutely refuse to resign. The only folk who should have the power to remove him from office are his constituents.
The RI General Assembly is a collection of highly unimpressive kooks, thieves and degenerates. It's laughable to have them either individually or as a collective sit in judgement of anyone.

Posted by: Tim at September 21, 2011 5:49 PM

If anybody has ever seen or read "American Psycho," Gordon is essentially Patrick Bateman. He knows how to charm you all with his right-wing agenda before something triggers him and the violence begins.
If anything positive comes out of this, maybe next time voters will be willing to take a closer look at what they're jumping into ned with. His district's voters wish they had, and many Republicans are wishing they'd vetted this guy a little better.

Posted by: bella at September 22, 2011 8:12 AM

I am calling on the felonius admitted cocaine user Lincoln Chafee to step down as governor.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 22, 2011 1:12 PM

A general officer is not the same as a General Assembly member. I don't think we can recall him. The only recall provisions are for general officers (gov, lt. gov, treasurer, AG, Sec of State)

Posted by: Jim at September 23, 2011 12:34 AM
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