R.I. Ethics Commission appointee resigns after Globe investigation into sexual harassment complaints

Governor Daniel McKee’s office “acknowledges vetting process was not adequate.”

This article originally appeared in Roll Call on December 1, 2023 and was written by Amanda Milkovits and Edward Fitzpatrick.  

Below is Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John Marion’s comment on Bryant Da Cruz’s resignation and the improvements that must be made to the vetting process for future Ethics Commission appointees.

After hearing the news of the resignation, Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John M. Marion said, “It is a relief that Mr. Da Cruz will not be serving on the Ethics Commission. We are glad Governor McKee has acknowledged that the vetting process was flawed. We urge him to do due diligence when making future appointments.”

Ethics Commission members should be carefully vetted because the panel has “extraordinary powers” provided for in the state constitution and because those appointments do not require the advice and consent of the state Senate, Marion said.

“It has been a problem for some time that appointments to the Ethics Commission under multiple governors have been slow,” Marion said. “Sometimes that results in vacancies, which is not good for the commission. All the parties involved in these appointments, including the legislative leaders, should do their best to provide appointments that are both timely and well vetted.”

The other vacant seat is awaiting an appointment by the governor from a list of nominees provided by House Minority Leader Michael W. Chippendale, a Foster Republican.

On Thursday, Marion had told the Globe that 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.”

“Potential appointees should be fully vetted so that people who are asked to serve meet the highest standards,” Marion said at the time. “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.”

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