Gov. McKee blasts ‘categorically false’ report regarding state’s Child Advocate

This is a file image of Gov. Dan McKee speaking at a press conference. (WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Gov. Dan McKee called an impromptu news conference Thursday afternoon to respond to what he called a “categorically false” report regarding the process to appoint the state’s Child Advocate.

McKee was adamantly critical of a story written by the Providence Journal where he said insinuated that he was looking to replace Child Advocate Jennifer Griffith following an announcement that she was on a medical leave earlier this week.

“It sends a message not only to Jennifer, but her friends and her family that think potentially they could read into this article and that we were using her illness as a way to actually eliminate her position; that’s disgusting,” exclaimed McKee.

The governor said he reached out several times earlier in the day Thursday to the Providence Journal to correct the article, but did not get a response he felt was appropriate.

“We did not get a satisfactory answer from them and that brought us here today, so we did not just jump here,” said McKee “We asked professionally that a story that was incorrect be corrected,” he remarked.

Following the briefing, executive director of the Providence Journal David Ng told ABC 6 News that they are updating the story and we will issue issue a correction in Friday’s print edition.

McKee laid out the timeline of how the situation got to where it is, noting that Griffith came to him and asked for another five-year term on Oct. 4 of 2021.

The governor said under state law a search committee is required to make an appointment for the Child Advocate position, but he did start the process immediately as his main focus was on the economic recovery from the COVID pandemic and the submitting a state budget.

McKee commented that Griffith was doing a “great job” and could remain in the position in holdover status until a committee was formed.

The governor explained that they started the process to implement the committee July 14 and did not learn of her illness until July 25.

In a statement from McKee’s Office earlier in the day, he said he has paused the committee process and at the news briefing gave his support to Griffith.

“If the committee asked me for recommendation I would recommend Jennifer for another five years,” said McKee.

Griffith was appointed and approved for a five-year term under Gov. Gina Raimondo in April of 2016.

Categories: News, Rhode Island