RI voters approve Question 2, granting Ethics Commission oversight

photo by Dan Mason/flickr
photo by Dan Mason/flickr

PROVIDENCE, R.I.  – Voters have approved a constitutional amendment giving the Rhode Island Ethics Commission the power to investigate state lawmakers and sanction them when they act improperly.

Tuesday’s yes vote on Question 2 restores oversight the commission once had over the General Assembly, but which was lost in a 2009 court ruling.

Good government advocates backed the measure as a way to deter unethical behavior in the legislature. They say it will force lawmakers to disclose potential conflicts.

There was no organized opposition to the measure, but there were some critics. The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says the amendment gives an unelected agency too much authority to decide what legislators can debate and vote on. Others expressed concerns the complaints could be used as political retribution.