Ex-Rhode Island Official Pays $5,000 To Settle Ethics Fine

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A former top Rhode Island official agreed Tuesday to pay a $5,000 to settle an ethics fine for his behavior on a Philadelphia business trip last year.

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission found David Patten violated the state's ethics code.

Patten resigned last June following an investigation into the accusations of misconduct, including using racially and ethnically charged remarks and making requests for special treatment.

The investigation focused on the March 2023 visit by Patten to review a state contractor, Scout Ltd., which hoped to redevelop Providence’s Cranston Street Armory. Patten had served as state director of capital asset management and maintenance in the Department of Administration at the time.

After the trip, the state received an email from Scout alleging “bizarre, offensive” behavior that was “blatantly sexist, racist and unprofessional.”

That prompted Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee to call for Patten’s resignation.

A lawyer for Patten said last year that Patten’s behavior was “the result of a health issue termed an acute stress event — culminating from various events over the past three years for which he treated and has been cleared to return to work.”

The lawyer also said Patten apologized to the citizens of Rhode Island and the many individuals he met with in Philadelphia.

Patten had been making more than $174,000 annually.

The Ethics Commission also found probable cause that McKee’s former administration director, James Thorsen, violated the state’s ethics code by accepting a free lunch at an Italian restaurant during the trip.

Thorsen, who resigned to take a job with the federal government, plans to defend himself during a future ethics commission hearing.