Ted Nesi and Tim White report that General Assembly employee Frank Montanaro, Jr., has decided to reimburse the state for the value of the tuition that his children received through a questionable benefit based on his prior employment with Rhode Island College:
“After consultation with my family and Speaker Mattiello, I believe the best thing to do is return the monetary equivalent of the tuition benefit my children received after I transitioned to my new role at the General Assembly,” Montanaro said. “I will be contacting Rhode Island College tomorrow to make the necessary arrangements.”
The first reaction of workaday Rhode Islanders may be to observe that the state seems to give insider benefits to people who don’t really need them. If, as Montanaro says a consulting labor attorney told him, everything was on the up-and-up with this benefit, that’s an awful lot of money to give up to end a media “distraction.” Either he’s even richer than his high salary might suggest or there’s even greater incentive we don’t know about for him to make the issue go away.
In that regard, enough information is already public to suggest that the state should investigate this matter. Montanaro repeatedly checked a box providing incorrect information to the University of Rhode Island, and the surrounding circumstances make it seem unlikely he did so by accident. That’s not something that people outside of the political elite in Rhode Island would get away with.