De Ramel mostly mum on why he hired Gordon Fox

Guillaume De Ramel, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state, speaks during a debate on WPRI 12's Newsmakers.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Guillaume de Ramel, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state, isn’t saying much about why his business briefly employed former House Speaker Gordon Fox to do legal work back in 2011.

The business was incorporated by de Ramel as a partnership called Newport Hangers LLC on Dec. 14, 2011. The company’s registered agent was listed as Gordon Fox, according to a document filed with the secretary of state’s office. Fox was then finishing his second year as speaker of the House but is a lawyer by profession.

Just three months later – on March 29, 2012 – Newport Hangers filed paperwork changing its designated resident agent from Fox to David P. Martland, a Middletown lawyer. The company, which was formed to lease space from the R.I. Airport Corporation, also changed the spelling in its name from “Hangers” to “Hangars.”

“Attorney Fox filed the initial paperwork for Newport Hangars and, soon after, Guillaume switched to a local attorney who broke ground with the project and continues in this role today,” Dave Hoffman, de Ramel’s campaign manager, told WPRI.com in an email.

Hoffman declined to answer further questions about how much de Ramel’s company paid Fox to handle the initial incorporation paperwork or why Newport Hangars replaced him so quickly.

Fox resigned as House speaker in March after law-enforcement agents raided his home and office. He has not been publicly identified as a target of the probe, but Target 12 has previously reported that investigators have been looking into Fox’s campaign finances.

As speaker, Fox played an influential role inside the Rhode Island Democratic Party. de Ramel is making his second run for the secretary of state’s office, which he previously sought in 2006, losing then to A. Ralph Mollis.

Mollis is barred by term limits from seeking a second term. De Ramel is facing Nellie Gorbea, a former deputy secretary of state, in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary. The winner will take on Republican John Carlevale in the November general election.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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