New R.I. Ethics Commission appointee faced sexual harassment allegations from six women

Common Cause RI says Bryant C. Da Cruz is “unfit to serve on such an important body.”

This article originally appeared in Roll Call on January 10, 2023 and was written by Kate Ackley.  

Below is Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John Marion’s comment on allegations against Governor McKee’s pick for the state Ethics Commission, Bryant C. Da Cruz

But John M. Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Da Cruz’s conduct as a member of the South Kingstown Town Council “makes him unfit to serve on such an important body as the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.”

Ethics Commission appointments are arguably the most important that a governor makes, aside from choosing state judges, Marion said. Rhode Island’s constitution gives the Ethics Commission “extraordinary powers,” including removing elected officials from office, and Common Cause fought for a law that holds Ethics Commission members to a higher standard, including banning lobbyists from the panel, he said.

“Potential appointees should be fully vetted so that people who are asked to serve meet the highest standards,” Marion said. “In this case, it appears that vetting, if it did occur, failed, or the governor overlooked some rather egregious behavior by his most recent appointee.”

Marion said the town manager appeared to find the sexual harassment allegations against Da Cruz “serious enough to tell the victims that, but for the fact that the town’s sexual harassment policy did not cover elected officials, Mr. Da Cruz would have been disciplined.”

On the Ethics Commission, Da Cruz will have jurisdiction over those same employees, should they still work for the town, Marion said, noting that Town Council has since changed its sexual harassment policy to include its own members.

“Mr. Da Cruz was allowed to get away with this behavior only because the town’s policy did not include his position at the time,” Marion said, “and he should not be trusted with the critical work of the Ethics Commission.”

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