Rhode Island Ethics Commission authorizes investigation into Philadelphia business trip

James Thorsen (left) and David Patten (right) are seen during a House Finance Subcommittee meeting, Thursday, March 9, 2023. (Capitol TV)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The Rhode Island Ethics Commission on Tuesday voted to authorize an investigation into a complaint against two former Gov. Dan McKee officials.

All six members of the Ethics Commission voted unanimously to launch investigations into both David Patten and James Thorsen.

Two weeks ago, David Patten stepped down as the director of Division of Capital Assessment Management and Maintenance at the Department of Administration after being accused of inappropriate behavior while on a work trip in Philadelphia.

In an email sent by Scout Ltd., the preferred vendor to revitalize the vacant Cranston Street Armory, Patten was allegedly “offensive” and his actions were “unprofessional.”

“We have the Code of Ethics, we have the authority to enforce the Code of Ethics and normally, we can rely on a complaint coming in but when it hasn’t — the commission can act,” said Ethics Commission executive director, Jason Gramitt.

Michael Lynch, Patten’s attorney, blames his client’s behavior on an “acute stress event.”

McKee outlined the investigation into the reported misconduct on June 16.

Also on that Philadelphia trip was Patten’s boss, James Thorsen, the former director of the Department of Administration.

Scout also criticized Thorsen for not stopping Patten’s behavior after Scout executives asked him to stop Patten’s poor behavior.

Grammitt described the scope of the Commission’s now-approved investigation, which is expected to take six months. Grammitt said they will examine all pieces of evidence during the investigation.

“It’s a full investigation, so we’ll look at everything,” Grammitt said. “These agencies are required to provide us with whatever information we need. We also have subpoena power if it’s necessary to use it, and sometimes it’s necessary.”

Thorsen left McKee’s administration earlier this year for a job in Washington.

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