EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Congressman David Cicilline said Friday he has not yet spoken with former House Speaker Gordon Fox since last week’s stunning FBI raids on Fox’s home and office, but called the federal probe swirling around his longtime friend “very sad.”
Last week state and federal investigators – armed with two search warrants – entered Fox’s East Side home and State House office, later removing boxes of apparent evidence.
“I think it’s very sad for our state obviously [and] sad for Gordon’s family,” Cicilline said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “I’ve always known him to be a serious legislator, but this is obviously a very sad set of circumstances.”
Cicilline said he does not know what the probe swirling around Fox is about. The U.S. Attorney’s office and state police won’t comment about the investigation.
“I did reach out to [Fox],” Cicilline said, adding that he did so several days after the raid. “I ultimately spoke to Marcus [LaFond] and told them I was thinking about them.” LaFond is Fox’s husband and longtime partner.
Cicilline said he didn’t “make anything of it” that he didn’t get Fox on the phone and wasn’t offended, saying the two have been friends for more than 20 years.
“Obviously he is going through a very difficult time,” Cicilline said. “I don’t take any affront to it.”
Both Fox and Cicilline began their political careers representing Providence’s East Side in the General Assembly. The pair served together until redistricting moved Fox into Cicilline’s district in 2002, when Cicilline was already running for Providence mayor.
Cicilline served two terms as mayor before running for Congress in 2010. He was re-elected in 2012 and is seeking a third term this year.
Fox was appointed to the Providence Board of Licenses during Cicilline’s first term as mayor.
No other search warrants have been executed since last Friday’s dramatic raids, according to law enforcement. A spokesperson for the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s office said the search warrants remain under seal.
Target 12 has learned Jeffrey Sallet – the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the FBI – was in town on the day of the raids. Sallet oversees investigations into white-collar crime and public corruption as well as health care fraud.
As Target 12 previously reported, FBI agents recently subpoenaed records from the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP). Sources say the PEDP probe and the one involving Fox are separate.
A spokesperson for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras confirmed the FBI inquiry into PEDP, but said the agency is not the target of the probe. He declined to provide further details.
Sources say investigators are looking at a loan that was issued in 2009 when Cicilline was mayor and – in that capacity – was serving as PEDP’s chairman.
Cicilline said he has not been approached by law enforcement and does not know what the investigation is about.
“I think it would be unfair and unwise to speculate on it,” Cicilline said. “They will go through their normal course of investigating it, and they’ll disclose it when they think it’s appropriate.”