Fox’s attorney receives extension to file finance reports

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Imprisoned former house speaker Gordon Fox has at least another week to catch up on a campaign finance report that was not filed before he went to prison, and another deadline is looming Friday.

The seven-day extension was granted by the R.I. Board of Elections, with Fox’s attorney and court-appointed campaign account treasurer Albin Moser acknowledging that’s the maximum extension the board can grant.

“For that reason I ask that you treat this as a request for a seven-day extension of time,” Moser wrote in a letter to the board. “I further ask that you allow me to keep you apprised of matters as they develop.”

Fox, 53, started his three-year sentence at Canaan United States Penitentiary in Waymart, Pennsylvania, on July 7. Fox pleaded guilty March 2 to charges of accepting a bribe and misusing his campaign funds, almost a year after his home and statehouse office were raided by federal and state investigators. Fox admitted to misusing $108,000.

Fox’s last campaign finance filing was submitted February 2, about a month before he entered his guilty plea. The document indicated he had $244,489 dollars in his campaign account, but he failed to file a report that was due in May. Another quarterly report is due Friday.

Moser told Target 12 he now has power of attorney to handle Fox’s campaign finances and has contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office to get the former lawmaker’s impounded financial records.

In his letter to the board of elections, he stated that Fox’s campaign accounts were closed after the raids. He said the bank has responded to his request for records by saying “representatives are reviewing the matter.”

Moser told the board that after he received a check from Fox’s bank, he intends to deposit it into a new Friends of Gordon Fox account. A second chunk of campaign cash that was donated to the Rhode Island College Foundation in May of 2014 was later returned to Fox. The $55,285 came from Fox’s two Political Action Committees.

Moser told the board that money was returned in the form of a check to Fox’s other attorney, former house speaker William Murphy.

“When I receive it I intend to open a new RI House Leadership PAC account,” Moser wrote in his letter to the board.

Fox also donated his PAC money to two other non-profits located in his East Side district. He sent $16,190 to the Classical High School Alumni Association and $10,000 apiece to Whitmarsh House and Billy Taylor House.

Under state law, campaign accounts are required to remain open until all existing funds are withdrawn, according to Richard Thornton, the Board of Elections’ director of campaign finance. That means Fox will be fined unless he files quarterly reports with the state. Thornton said as of now, Fox’s fines total about $200.

The fines for not filing the reports are $25 per late report and $2 a day for failing to respond to the board’s “notice of non-compliance.”

The two largest debtors to the board, former state Senators Patrick T. McDonald and John Celona, each served prison sentences. Records show they owe the state a combined $406,000 for past-due campaign report fines.

WPRI.com reporter Dan McGowan contributed to this report.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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