PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — On the heels of Gov. Dan McKee’s now former chief of staff stepping down from his post amid controversy, both McKee and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos held their weekly media availability to discuss issues of the day and take questions from the media.
When asked directly about the Attorney General’s investigation into Silva’s involvement, Governor McKee said “there is no real news to report today” and says to refer to the statement he issued Monday.
He wanted to assure residents that there is no longer a disruption within the administration. “We can’t have this disruption in a time we’re going through a health crisis, education crisis, and economic crisis,” he said.
Governor Mckee did mention that all departments will cooperate with the attorney general’s office, and he would willingly go if called as a witness. He does not think it is necessary to seek legal counsel regarding the matter.
Reporters asked about Antonio Afonso Jr., a lawyer who has been serving as McKee’s Senior Deputy Chief of Staff, and his connection to the lawsuit over 38 Studios, a failed video game company that cost the state tens of millions of dollars.
“Check the public record”, McKee said, assuring them that they will find no wrongdoing.
The briefing opened up with the announcement that WaterFire is making its return to Providence on Saturday, celebrating and saluting first responders and frontline workers.
WaterFire will also be hosting a pop-up testing and vaccination clinic and recommends people wear a mask.
Governor McKee would move on to express disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision to allow evictions to resume. He said with the available federal money, no eligible Rhode Islanders should be evicted for non-payment of rent.
According to Governor McKee, RI Housing is set to make a series of changes to speed up rent relief, including streaming applications and forms. Lt. Governor Matos added that there will also be funding for utility bills. Residents in need of help are directed to go to Rent Relief RI’s website.
Tuesday’s briefing also came one day after the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war.
Governor McKee had no additional details as to if Rhode Island will definitely be receiving and refugees from the country, but said the state continues to stand ready as he mentioned one week ago. “We’ll do our part, but no more than our part.”
As schools around the state are opening or preparing to open, Governor McKee was asked if he had a particular view on a vaccination mandate for teachers.
The Governor said he is not prepared to answer yes or no on a statewide mandate for teachers, but emphasized that teachers are at a “strong” 90% vaccination rate. Governor McKee also noted that booster shots are on their way to Rhode Island after Pfizer sought approval for a booster dose. Teachers will be a priority for those boosters.