RI lawmaker defending himself after pornographic references spotted on hearing handout

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A state lawmaker is defending himself after giving his colleagues a handout that showed a web browser with pornographic references loaded in the background.

State Rep. Ramon Perez was testifying before the House Finance Committee on Wednesday in favor of a bill to create a fund that would pay drivers involved in accidents with unlicensed motorists. As part of his testimony, he handed committee members a printout of a Wikipedia article on a similar policy in Puerto Rico.

However, the screenshot of the Wikipedia article also showed multiple browser tabs open with headers for pages referencing pornography. Those tabs were open in the background, so no pornographic images could be seen.

After being spotted, the clerk quickly collected the handouts from visibly amused committee members. Perez submitted a new handout without the racy browser tabs the next day, House spokesman Larry Berman said.

Rep. Ramon Perez

Perez, D-Providence, took to Facebook to defend himself on Friday, posting the original offending screenshot and indicating he was sent the photo by someone else. He said he used it “by mistake.”

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Perez said he was “extremely” embarrassed by the situation and took responsibility for it, but insisted the handout was provided to him by a friend whom he had asked to research the information.

Perez also said many of his colleagues have questioned him about the situation. “Now I think everyone is looking at me differently,” he said.

“I have never dealt with a situation like this before,” he said.

As for Perez’s legislation, the committee voted to hold it for further study.

Perez is a newcomer to the State House this year. Last November he won the District 13 seat vacated by former Democratic Rep. John Carnevale, who declined to seek re-election after a Target 12 investigation into his residency led to him getting kicked off the voter rolls.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook