PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A prominent Rhode Island state lawmaker announced Monday she’s leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican, which caused her to immediately lose her committee chairmanship.
House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Karen MacBeth of Cumberland filed official paperwork with the secretary of state’s office on Monday afternoon, telling a crowd of reporters she thinks Democrats no longer represent Rhode Islanders effectively.
“I think it’s time in this state that people stand up for what we need,” she said.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, a Cranston Democrat, responded by immediately removing MacBeth as chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, a position she’s held since she supported Mattiello for speaker in 2014. In that role, MacBeth has led a high-profile series of hearings on the 38 Studios debacle.
“Since a chairmanship is a leadership position, I will be replacing her,” Mattiello said in a statement. He said he hasn’t decided on her replacement yet.
After changing her affiliation, MacBeth said she’s “considering” challenging Democratic Congressman David Cicilline in this November’s election, though she said she hasn’t made up her mind yet.
MacBeth, a school principal, was first elected in 2008 and is in her fourth term. After changing her affiliation, she became the 12th Republican in the 75-member House. The House’s lone independent, Rep. Blake Filippi, also caucuses with the GOP.