PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan is calling on state Rep. Teresa Tanzi to reveal the name of the higher-ranking lawmaker who Tanzi has said sexually harassed her at the State House.
“I think that Representative Tanzi owes it to everyone, to everyone in the building and to everyone in the state, to tell us who it was,” Morgan, R-West Warwick, said Tuesday during a taping of the Dan Yorke State of Mind TV program. “Because that person who is trying to do a transaction shouldn’t be representing us in the State House.”
Morgan is the Republican leader in the R.I. House of Representatives as well as a newly announced 2018 candidate for governor.
Tanzi, D-South Kingstown, sparked a firestorm early last week when she alleged that a higher-ranking state lawmaker had told her she could advance her legislative priorities in exchange for sexual favors. Tanzi has repeatedly declined to identify who made the comment to her.
“I strongly feel that if I make this about one person, then that’s all we’re talking about, when this is obviously a much broader problem,” Tanzi said Friday during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “I think it’s a much broader cultural problem that we’re looking at.”
Morgan suggested Tanzi should at least tell the Rhode Island State Police, which have opened an inquiry into her allegation, who she was referring to.
“She could tell the state police and they could investigate it,” Morgan said. “This is the point: do we want legislation passed under those circumstances? … I think she has an obligation to tell the state police who it is, so they have a chance to investigate.”
Morgan, the first woman to ever lead Rhode Island’s House Republican caucus, said was not aware of sexual harassment at the State House herself.
“I have absolutely no knowledge of any of those kinds of activities,” she said. “I just don’t. I know in the Republican caucus it simply doesn’t happen. I can’t answer for the Democratic side.”
In other fallout Wednesday from Tanzi’s comments, pressure is continuing to mount on House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Rhode Island Democratic Party Chairman Joseph McNamara to remove former Rep. Joseph DeLorenzo as the party’s 2nd vice-chair, after he made dismissive comments about Tanzi’s allegations last week.
The chairs of the Rhode Island’s city and town Democratic committees voted 17-7 on Tuesday to support removing DeLorenzo, according to Linda Finn, who chairs the Middletown Democratic Town Committee. Separately, Gov. Gina Raimondo’s spokesman confirmed she has signed onto a request for an emergency party meeting about the issue; 60 signatures are needed to trigger the meeting.
DeLorenzo said he has made no decisions about how he will proceed.Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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