Rhode Island gay House speaker resigns post following raid on home and office

Gordon Fox

Gordon Fox

The openly gay speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, Gordon Fox, abruptly resigned his leadership position Saturday following a raid by state and federal investigators on his home and State House office Friday.

The subject of the investigation has yet to be disclosed. The Providence Journal reported Saturday night that federal and state police agents with search warrants entered Fox’s home and State House office Friday and took away “boxes of evidence.”

As of Sunday, the State House website and Fox’s website as speaker contained no statements concerning the investigation. But the local NBC affiliate said Fox issued a statement, saying he was resigning the speaker position so that “yesterday’s events” would not “distract my colleagues from addressing the challenges facing Rhode Island.” He said he would serve out the remainder of his term as state representative, adding, “I do not intend to seek another term in the House.

“My personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation,” said Fox. “Because of the nature of this matter, I will not be commenting further.”

According to various news reports, Fox has twice been ordered to pay civil fines to the state ethics commission. One involved a failure to disclose that his law firm would benefit from his vote for a lottery vendor seeking a state contract. The other, just this year, involved his failure to report that his law firm profited from work done for Providence’s economic development agency. He also suffered political backlash for supporting a $75 million state loan guarantee for a former Red Sox player’s video game company that went bankrupt.

Fox won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1992 and rose to become speaker in 2010. According to the Boston Globe, Fox came out as gay in 2004 “in an unplanned announcement, while addressing a gay marriage rally at the Statehouse.” In angered many LGBT people in 2011 when he refused to let a marriage equality bill to the floor because he said there was “no realistic chance for passage of the bill in the Senate.” But two years later, he was seen as playing a critical role in passage of the bill in the House and persuading Senate President Teresa Weed to let the bill onto the Senate floor.

The marriage equality bill passed the House in January 2013, then the Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee on May 2, 2013.

Leave a Reply