Tuesday 09 March 2021

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LR Senate Speaker Dominick Ruggerio and President Joe Shekarchi

Rhode Island’s legislative leaders, President Joe Shekarchi and Senate Speaker Dominick Ruggerio, turn the revolving door.

Staff come and go and where it ends, no one knows.

As of January 1, 26 legislative staff who worked for the Joint Legislative Services Committee (JCLS) have been fired or left to fend for themselves.


One job, two people – Combined salary $ 319,162.63

Currently, the most senior position has two people: Shekarchi’s new JCLS executive director, Henry Kinch, has come from the bench where he was clerk of the Providence County court and executive director Frank Montanaro continues in his role. Montanaro continues to receive his salary but only works on certain aspects of his job.

According to Shekarchi spokesperson Larry Berman – who was also the spokesperson for former speakers Gordon Fox and Nick Mattiello – told GoLocal is a statement, “Frank Montanaro has a temporary title of Director of Facilities, Operations and investment projects. He helps with the short-term transition while completing various investment projects that he previously oversaw.

“Frank Montanaro’s salary during the transition period is $ 167,948.63, the same as his previous salary as director of JCLS,” said Berman.

According to documents provided by legislative leaders to GoLocal, Kinch earns $ 151,214.

Who has left

Legislative leaders say the 26 staff members who have left are just the start – more staff changes are on the way. According to several sources, most posts in the General Assembly did not have a job description. “The ongoing legislative restructuring has saved over $ 1 million in wages to date, with more changes to come,” Berman said.

Of those leaving, a number have close ties to former President Nick Mattiello – his former chief of staff Leo Skenyon and Garrett Demers to name a few. Demers is the son of Mattiello’s close ally, James Demers, who was at the center of the controversy at the Rhode Island Convention Center that led to a Rhode Island grand jury investigation. The attorney general has not yet reported on the results of this grand jury.

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Those marked in yellow, according to the President’s office, left on their own. SOURCE: RI General Assembly

New employees

As previously reported, a number of new recruits have been brought into key positions. Both chambers have new chiefs of staff. Three weeks ago, Jake Bissaillon was promoted from a senior official under Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey to Chief of Staff to the President of the Senate in Ruggerio. Ray Simone left US Senator Jack Reed’s office in Rhode Island in January to become Shekarchi’s top staff member.

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SOURCE: RI General Assembly

It is not known when the staff changes will end. The door is still turning – and spending.

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