Top aide to RI Speaker of the House resigns following investigation
A top aide to House Speaker K. Joe Shekarchi, D-Warwick, Senior Deputy Chief of Staff John Conti, resigned Thursday in response to news that he was involved in an illegal marijuana business with ties to the mob.
A WPRI-12 investigation found that Conti had multiple interactions with Raymond “Scarface” Jenkins, an associate of the Patriarca crime family — including one that took place on the State House grounds.
The revelations raised concerns regarding Conti’s access to insider information on the marijuana market as a high-level staff member in the General Assembly, which legalized recreational marijuana in May. The act will go into effect at the beginning of December.
Shekarchi told WPRI that he had no knowledge of Conti’s involvement in the criminal enterprise.
Gas utility bills to increase Nov. 1
Rhode Island Energy will raise residents’ gas bills starting Tuesday by 9.6% rather than the originally proposed 15% increase, the Providence Journal reported. The reduced rate hike is partially the result of a settlement between Rhode Island Energy and Neronha, who fought the sale of Rhode Island’s electrical infrastructure from National Grid to Pennsylvania-based PPL Electric Utilities earlier this year.
Like many other parts of the country, Rhode Island is suffering a shortage of gasoline and natural gas because of the Russia-Ukraine war. Concerns about rate hikes — in addition to worries that PPL was less prepared to facilitate Rhode Island’s transition to renewable energy — were the main drivers of Neronha’s suit this spring, The Herald previously reported.
The November hike will come on the heels of a 47% increase in Rhode Islanders’ electricity bills, which went into effect Oct. 1, The Herald previously reported.
Jill Biden campaigns for Magaziner, McKee as midterms loom
First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Rhode Island Thursday to stump for Gov. Dan McKee and state Treasurer Seth Magaziner in their races for governor and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, WPRI reported.
With less than two weeks to go until the Nov. 8 midterm elections, Biden has become a sought-after speaker for Democratic campaigns nationwide, according to The New York Times.
After touching down in Warwick and meeting with local and state officials including McKee, Biden spoke at a campaign fundraiser for the incumbent governor, who is fighting for re-election against Republican businesswoman Ashley Kalus.
Following a visit and speech at Rhode Island College, Biden spoke at a Cranston rally for Democrat Seth Magaziner ’06. Magaziner is facing a tough race for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District seat against his Republican opponent, former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, The Herald previously reported.
In that speech, Biden echoed Magaziner’s campaign messaging, which frames the CD2 race as crucial for women’s rights and the survival of democracy.
“When extremists attack the rights of the vast majority of Americans, like a woman’s right to choose, or they stand in the way of affordable prescriptions or clean energy, they’re letting down all Americans,” Biden said, according to WPRI. Magaziner “will stand up for the right to choose, and he is going to hold big corporations accountable when they put profits over people.”