Ethics Commission to examine complaint over Warwick council member’s non-disclosure

Warwick City Councilwoman Donna Travis

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A complaint alleging Warwick City Council member Donna Travis did not disclose her relationship with a number of nonprofits – including one that has a lease with the city – was referred to the Ethics Commission for further examination.

According to filings with the Rhode Island Secretary of State, Travis is President of Jonah Inc., a nonprofit that describes itself as “a diverse community outreach and education organization” on its Facebook page.

The organization has a 10-year lease for $1 a year with the city of Warwick for an Oakland Beach property located at 830 Oakland Beach Ave. Travis, who is the council’s former president, sponsored a 2011 resolution to extend the lease.  Jonah Inc. on Oakland Beach Avenue in Warwick

The complaint claims Travis is an officer with Jonah Inc. and two other nonprofits, but on the councilwoman’s Ethics Commission financial statement that Travis signed and filed, “none” is handwritten on question 9, which asks if she or family members “held a management position or were a director, officer, partner or trustee” of any profit or nonprofit organization.

The lease with the city for the building where Jonah is located is signed by Travis as Jonah Inc. President.

Travis referred Target 12 to her attorney Robert Flaherty who called the issue “an administerial error.”

“She neglected inadvertently to report her involvement with Jonah,” Flaherty said. “I’m going to take care of this with an amended filing and we’ll address the commission when needed.”

The commission will decide if there is probable cause to launch a full investigation of the complaint, which was filed by Warwick resident John Simoneau, Sr.

Flaherty said he would be surprised if the case advances since there wasn’t any money involved.

“She does not receive any money from Jonah Inc.” Flaherty said.

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