by Mark Curtis, ABC Political Reporter -
There could be a criminal investigation of Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox, if his political opponent has his way.
It all has to do with a campaign contribution from five years ago, that the Speaker finally acknowledged earlier this week.
District Four independent candidate Mark Binder held a news conference outside of the former 38 Studios headquarters Thursday.
Binder cited news reports, including from ABC-6, noting that Speaker Gordon Fox failed to report a campaign contribution from five years ago.
That in-kind contribution came from attorney Michael Corso, who owns Tazza Caffe restaurant in downtown Providence.
Corso was more recently involved in the failed 38 Studios deal.
Fox's challenger says it all smells of crony politics.
Mark Binder, (I) RI House Candidate - District 4 said, "Today I am calling for a state and federal investigation into the campaign contributions from, and the relationship between Michael Corso and Gordon Fox. At the very least, the Speaker owes us the taxpayers and his constituents, an explanation."
ABC 6 Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "Speaker Fox's office has repeatedly declined requests for interview looking into this matter, but the office did release this letter from the Speaker saying he had finally acknowledged this campaign contribution and has paid it back, some five years later. Apparently the Speaker thinks the matter is over."
Fox's letter is addressed, To Whom it May Concern, even though Tazza restaurant owner Michael Corso is his close, personal friend.
Fox's opponent Mark Binder said, "If there was one fundraiser where nothing was reported. How many others were there. We don't know."
This contribution controversy aside, Speaker Fox has maintained he did nothing improper regarding the 38 Studios deal.
Now late this afternoon ABC-6 News spoke with Robert Kando, who is Executive Director of the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
He says the five-year old reporting error by Gordon Fox's campaign is quote "not desirable," and is "not good," he says the mistake has been fixed.
For now there is no disciplinary action.