Ethics Commission: Providence councilman can’t lobby legislature for one year

Panel tells David Salvatore to see opinion on city budget vote

(Photo by Dan McGowan/WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Now that he’s left state employment for a position as the director of government affairs for the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, Providence City Councilman David Salvatore cannot lobby the General Assembly for a period of one year, the R.I. Ethics Commission ruled Tuesday.

The panel also told Salvatore that he’ll need to seek another advisory opinion on whether he can vote on the city budget, which sets property tax rates. While he can lobby other municipalities, he is not allowed to lobby the city of Providence.

“Throughout the hiring process, it was important that I seek an advisory opinion,” Salvatore told WPRI.com. “It’s part of what we do and out of an abundance of caution, it was important for me to have that interaction.”

Salvatore, a Democrat who has represented Ward 14 in the city’s North End since 2011, worked as a policy analyst for the R.I. House of Representatives until he accepted the new job in December. Rhode Island’s code of ethics includes a so-called “revolving door” provision, which requires most state employees to wait one year before they can begin lobbying the General Assembly.

The association has 4,000 members across the state, which includes real estate brokers, salespeople and appraisers. Its mission is to “monitor and promote issues that affect the association’s members, private property rights and the real estate industry on both state and municipal levels,” according to Salvatore.

When the association announced his it had hired Salvatore, it said he would focus on outreach efforts on legislative and regulatory initiatives that could affect real estate and housing.

As a member of the City Council, Salvatore has been a vocal critics of a policy that many landlords support: a tiny reduction made to the non-owner occupied real estate tax in the current budget. Rental property owners now pay $33.10 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from $33.75 last year. Salvatore voted against the budget.

More recently, Salvatore has taken aim at the Elorza administration. In letters to constituents in recent months, he has called the landlord tax reduction a “reckless” fiscal decision and criticized the mayor over sidewalk repairs in his ward, which includes parts of Elmhurst and Wanskuck.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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