Thursday, May 14, 2009


There has been a lot of print devoted to government ethics these past weeks. In particular, Sen. William Irons claims that his conviction is faulty because he is protected from the Ethics Commission probe by the Rhode Island Constitution's Section 5. "For any speech in debate in either house, no member shall be questioned in any other place."

This seems a bit odd to me, a non attorney, but isn't unethical behavior of most concern to taxpayers precisely where Mr. Irons claims it is no one else's business?

The solution appears to be that the Legislature investigate the case brought to its attention by the Ethics Commission. If it refuses, then it would fail to perform its duty under Section 4. of the Constitution, "-- No member of the general assembly shall take any fee, or be of counsel in any case pending before either house of the general assembly, under penalty of forfeiture of seat, upon proof thereof to the satisfaction of the house in which the member sits."

The Senate must take responsibility to police its own members.