CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee’s now-former chief of staff, Tony Silva, listed an unregistered construction company on a document related to a home he built in 2018 and sold the next year, despite claiming the business was never active, Target 12 has learned.
Documents at Cumberland Town Hall show Silva listed My Hero Construction as the company which constructed a single-family home at 116 Canning St. in Cumberland. The notation is contained in a hand-written U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development disclosure form that Silva signed on Feb. 8, 2019.
In his mandatory financial disclosures with the R.I. Ethics Commission, Silva lists My Hero Construction as an income-generating company that he established in 2018. Last week, however, he told The Providence Journal in an email: “My Hero Construction was NEVER operational and no projects were ever begun or completed.”
There is no record that My Hero Construction was ever incorporated with the secretary of state’s office, a requirement for businesses operating in Rhode Island. There is also no record of the company being registered with the state through the R.I. Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board.
Silva did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday on the newly discovered paperwork.
Brian Hodge, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Business Regulation, suggested the state is currently looking into My Hero but declined to say more.
“DBR does not comment on ongoing investigations, and any potential violations are investigated impartially by the department,” he said.
McKee announced Monday he had parted ways with Silva effective immediately amid mounting controversy over his longtime aide’s efforts to develop a separate wetlands property on the same Cumberland road, Canning Street. The town’s mayor, Jeff Mutter, has told Target 12 he was concerned by what Silva said to him about the project in March and later reported the conversation to the governor.
Attorney General Peter Neronha is currently investigating Silva’s actions in connection with the wetlands development, at McKee’s request. The state GOP has separately filed an ethics complaint against Silva.
It’s unclear how much McKee has been told about My Hero Construction. He declined to answer a question on the topic at his weekly news conference Tuesday, pointing back to the written statement he issued Monday about Silva’s departure.
However, the governor did say he would have no problem being interviewed by investigators regarding Silva if they make a request.
“We made it known to the attorney general’s office that all our personnel, all our departments, are going to cooperate and that wouldn’t exempt me as the governor from doing that,” McKee, a Democrat who took office in March, told reporters. “If I’m called for any reason, I will go and willingly.”
Documents show the original parcel of undeveloped land at 116 Canning St. was purchased by Silva in April 2018 for $27,000. The following month he obtained a building permit to construct a new two-bedroom home there, indicating that it would be owner-occupied. He received a certificate of occupancy in December of that year.
Silva sold the newly constructed home for $382,950 the following March, just under a year after he purchased the vacant land and one month after he filed the HUD disclosure form at Town Hall saying it had been built by My Hero Construction.
There is also a discrepancy among Silva’s various documents regarding where My Hero Construction’s operations have been based.
While the 2019 HUD disclosure form lists My Hero’s business address as a property Silva owns in Narragansett, his ethics disclosures give its business address as 367 West Wrentham Rd. in Cumberland. There is no property record for the latter address in the Cumberland town assessor’s database.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram
Tim White, Eli Sherman and Tolly Taylor contributed to this report.