RI Board of Elections withholds docs on embattled executive director

Robert Kando, executive director of the R.I. Board of Elections.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The R.I. Board of Elections is refusing to shed light on almost any of its internal discussions about its embattled executive director, Robert Kando, who was just suspended from his job for the second time this year.

In response to a public records request by WPRI.com for all emails among staff and board members since January 2015 regarding Kando’s “past, present and future employment by the Board of Elections,” the board provided just two official emails. It refused to release 35 others.

The two emails were both between Kando and Raymond Marcaccio, the board’s legal counsel. The first, from Sept. 3, was Kando’s formal agreement to allow a discussion of his job performance in open session at a board meeting. The second, from Jan. 22, provided a letter to Kando from the board’s acting chairman, William West, laying out the terms of Kando’s first employment suspension of 2016.

The board said the 35 withheld emails were all protected by the exception from Rhode Island’s open-records law for personnel information, and some were also covered by the exceptions for the deliberative process, investigations, and attorney-client privilege.

Kando was suspended last week for 30 business days because he failed to follow the board’s order that he sign up for management classes, as stipulated when he was last suspended in January, according to John Marion, who tracks the board’s activities as executive director of watchdog group Common Cause Rhode Island.

Kando earned $143,624 in 2015, according to state records. He has been the board’s executive director since 2005, when his hiring sparked controversy due to an alleged lack of qualifications.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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