Tanzi: ‘Ball is in my court’ with state police review

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State Rep. Teresa Tanzi said Friday she does not plan on sharing the name of the “higher-ranking” lawmaker who made a sexually-charged comment to her with the state police after they reached out to her as part of their examination of harassment claims at the State House.

On Monday, Tanzi told The Providence Journal she was told she could get her legislation passed in exchange for sexual favors. Tanzi has publicly declined to identify the person who made the comment and when it happened.

“I’ve said it was a power differential,” Tanzi said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “I was a rank-and-file member of the General Assembly and the other person was not.”

She added, “the other person had a title.”

Tanzi said she does not plan on sharing the name with the state police either, but she has not had a formal interview with them yet.

“Frankly, they didn’t ask me to [share the name],” Tanzi said. “I had someone reach out to me – a corporal reached out to me – she left a voicemail … and she simply said ‘I am calling to reach out to see if there is anything we can do for you.'”

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin told Eyewitness News earlier this week he reached out to Col. Ann Assumpico of the state police after Tanzi shared her story publicly. In a joint statement, the attorney general’s office and state police said the two agencies “are working together to review the allegations.”

“I have had no other indication that there is an investigation,” Tanzi said. “I was told quite clearly the ball is in my court and what I do next is up to me.”

Tanzi said she is hoping to use this opportunity to broaden the conversation.

“I strongly feel that if I make this about one person then that’s all we’re talking about,” Tanzi said. “It’s a much broader cultural problem that we’re looking at.”

Tanzi said she was “surprised and a little overwhelmed” that her comments made national news.

“But to me, the opportunity I’ve been waiting for my whole life to change the culture, that exists, was handed to me,” she said. “I happen to be in a position that many women are not in: I am an elected official, I have an amplified voice.”

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook