A Hummel Report Investigation
For years the city of Providence has maintained it had no accounting of how much former House Speaker Gordon Fox was paid to do legal work for a troubled business loan program - until a citizen activist and vocal critic of the program took her complaints to the attorney general. This week what newly-released records show and why Judith Reilly - who has since moved out of state - continues to push for information.
Click here to read Special Assistant Attorney General Lisa Pinsonneault’s opinion-letter on the case.
Click here to view the list of fees collected by Gordon Fox.
Click here to see our 2011 report and list of all loans from the PEDP.
Hummel: A months-long battle to find out how much former House Speaker Gordon Fox was paid to do legal work for the city of Providence ends with a grudging release of those records. This week: a look at what’s in those files, and the woman whose relentless efforts lead to the release of the information.
The headline in last Sunday’s Providence Journal seemed like a win for public records supporters, but for Judith Reilly it was a hollow victory.
We first met Reilly three years ago when she began raising questions about the troubled Providence Economic Development Partnership - her research showed a 63 percent default rate on loans to businesses under the administration of former Mayor David Cicilline. Reilly’s work also caught the attention of federal overseers, who launched their own investigation, which eventually led to the temporary suspension of the loan program.
In the fall of 2012 Gordon Fox, speaker of the House at the time, came onto Reilly’s radar screen as the closing attorney for dozens of loans - including one for a Cranston businesswoman who had used a phantom Providence address. But for five years the city had no record of any payments to Fox, although other filings showed he clearly did the legal work. That’s because Fox said he was a subcontractor for PEDP’s chief legal counsel Joshua Teverow, and paid by him.
Working on the city’s behalf, but not directly paid by the city. Fox admitted to not disclosing that income on his Ethics Commission disclosure form and paid a $1,500 fine to resolve the case last year.
The Hummel Report heard from many businesses that took out loans complaining the attorney’s fees were exorbitant, and Fox’s work mediocre.
The city said it didn’t have any records of Fox’s payments, so Reilly filed an official complaint with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office in November. And last week she finally got a decision - seven pages of records that show a total of more than $70,000 in fees for Fox from 2005-2010.