Sen. Doyle fixes ethics filings after questions about his debts

State Sen. Jamie Doyle, D-Pawtucket, talks to Eyewitness News on May 20, 2016.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A veteran state lawmaker was forced to amend his ethics filings on Friday after admitting he failed to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in personal and business debts.

State Sen. Jamie Doyle, D-Pawtucket, said he filed an amended personal financial disclosure with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission after Eyewitness News discovered that he had not disclosed multiple liens on his home and business properties related to unpaid taxes.

“We went back and read the finer line of what actually had to be reported – we went back and took care of the issue,” Doyle said during a sit-down interview to discuss his tax troubles as well as a lawsuit filed by a woman who says he failed to make promised payments to her.

“I’m here with open arms,” Doyle said. “I’ve got nothing to hide.”

Doyle, 44, acknowledged that his 10-year-old medical-supply company, Doyle Respiratory LLC, has struggled at times, putting a strain on his personal finances. “To be quite honest, 10 years after, I look up to the sky, I look up to the Lord, and I don’t know how we’re still in business with all the billing issues we’ve had,” he said.

Part of the problem, according to Doyle, is that the cost of medical supplies has continued to rise even as reimbursement rates have declined. “Once you get behind the 8-ball with cash, not being able to bill and not being able to bill properly, you’re in a world of hurt, and that’s when things started to spiral,” he said.

“Just because I’m a senator doesn’t mean that I don’t have my struggles just like everybody else,” he added.

Doyle said he doesn’t know how much he owes in total but indicated the combined amount could be more than $100,000. Municipal records in Pawtucket show a long list of liens on his home and office filed by the IRS and Rhode Island’s tax administrator, with the largest single lien totaling $53,904.

In his amended Ethics Commission filing, Doyle said he or his family owes more than $1,000 to four entities he had not previously disclosed: the IRS, Invacare Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp. Doyle said the newly disclosed debts were originally incurred by his business but he has now personally guaranteed them. He also said he has agreed to payment plans with all of his creditors.

“They’re very happy with what I’m paying them, and I don’t have anyone knocking at my door – I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

Doyle is one of more than two dozen legislators who have amended their Ethics Commission disclosures since the shocking resignation of former House Finance Committee Chairman Ray Gallison put all their finances under new scrutiny. The mandatory annual reports require elected officials to disclose information such as their sources of income and their debts, partly to police conflicts of interest.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has indicated Gallison is under federal investigation due to issues with his personal or business finances. But Doyle – a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee – argued voters have no reason to be concerned about how his private money woes could impact his public service.

“This may sound cocky, but I’m going to quote Kid Rock right now: you can be cocky, but it’s OK if you can back it up,” he declared.

Doyle, the son of former Pawtucket Mayor James Doyle, was first elected in 2004 and ran unopposed for re-election two years ago. “I will go toe to toe with anybody and I will show them the record and I will show them what I’ve done in the 12 years that I have been up there,” he said.

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

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