News just broke that Senator Nicholas Kettle, a Republican from Coventry, has resigned, writing:
After taking several days to speak with my legal counsel and family members, I have determined that it is in my best interest to resign and concentrate on the unfounded allegations against me. I want to thank the constituents from District #21 for the privilege of serving them as their Senator for the last seven years.
I am grateful for the many individuals who have continued to support me during these difficult times as it is clear that they understand that I am innocent until proven guilty. However, I am extremely disappointed in Senate Leadership on both sides of the aisle because Mr. Algiere and Mr. Ruggerio do not appear to understand the importance of due process as a cornerstone of our legal system.
This was an obvious move on his part once Senate leaders showed they were willing to take Rhode Island a step closer to status as a banana republic in order to deprive his district of representation for a few months. Indeed, Democrat Senate President Dominick Ruggerio all but admitted the objective was to force a resignation:
“I don’t know of any member who would not support expulsion at this time,″ he said.
But, “I am hopeful maybe Senator Kettle will think this through and resign before we have to go through this process because, I mean, it’s not going to be a good process for hm [sic]. I don’t think it’s going to be a good process for the Senate,″ Ruggerio said.
In other words, minds had been made up based on rumors and allegations. Moreover, Ruggerio intended to make the process into a punishment (“not going to be a good process for him”). And Senate leadership was willing to disrupt their own chamber in order to exact that punishment. This is thug speak. It’s a travesty, and it’s almost a shame that Kettle is letting our feudal lords off so easily.
Of course, why should a young guy facing huge turmoil in his life be the only one not making things easy for powerful politicians? Here’s how Katherine Gregg and Patrick Anderson provide some perspective on Ruggerio’s role in this: “Ruggerio, himself, has had a few comparatively minor brushes with the law.”
Ruggerio was arrested for driving under the influence in 2012. This past November, the Providence Journal news department lamented “the carnage inflicted by driving under the influence,” but when it comes to providing readers some context for the moral proclamations of an elected official who just hired one of the journalists’ coworkers for a six-figure government job, the risk of carnage is apparently “comparatively minor.”
Unless Kettle’s story is on track to take some surprising twist that changes the entire appearance of the two incidents involved, his re-election in November shouldn’t even have been on the table. Whether he resigned in advance of that or stuck it out to provide his district with representation for this final legislative session, his tribulations would have remained mainly his own problem. Now he’ll be gone from government entirely.
Unfortunately for Rhode Islanders, we’re still stuck with corrupt state officials who don’t understand the rule of law or the proper relationship between tin-pot legislators and the people who elected them.