PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Department of Business Regulation announced Friday it has issued a $1,000 civil penalty against Tony Silva, Gov. Dan McKee’s now-former chief of staff, over an unregistered construction company Silva apparently established in 2018.
Silva has repeatedly listed the business, My Hero Construction, as a source of income on financial disclosures filed with the R.I. Ethics Commission. Yet there is no record it was ever incorporated with the secretary of state or registered at DBR with the R.I. Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board.
Target 12 revealed Tuesday that Silva had listed the company as the builder of a newly constructed home he sold in Cumberland in early 2019, despite asserting last month that the business was never operational. Silva was working as McKee’s chief of staff in the lieutenant governor’s office at the time of the transaction.
Brian Hodge, a spokesperson for DBR, said state regulators had conducted a review of My Hero Construction since Target 12 first inquired about it on Aug. 24 and found Silva violated a state law against doing work without a valid registration.
“Property records show that, on or about April of 2018, Respondent purchased an undeveloped piece of land, located at 116 Canning Street in Cumberland,” according to the citation, written by Matthew Lambert, principal investigator for the contractors’ board.
“Respondent, doing business as My Hero Construction, then erected a residential structure on the property,” Lambert wrote. “Said property was sold on or about March of 2019. During the time of construction neither the respondent nor My Hero Construction held the required contractor registration with the CRLB.”
Silva has the right to appeal the penalty within 20 days; otherwise the citation will become final on Sept. 23. He did not respond to questions about the company earlier this week.
McKee announced Monday that Silva, a longtime friend and adviser as well as a fellow Cumberland resident, was leaving the governor’s office effective immediately amid mounting scrutiny of his business dealings. In addition to the questions around My Hero Construction, Silva also faced criticism over his efforts to develop a controversial wetlands property in Cumberland.
Attorney General Peter Neronha is currently investigating Silva’s actions in connection with the wetlands development after McKee requested he do so. Separately, the state GOP has filed an ethics complaint against Silva for allegedly failing to fully disclose his financial interest in that parcel of land.
Speaking to Target 12 last week, Silva said he welcomed the attorney general’s investigation. “I’ve done nothing wrong,” he said.
McKee declined to answer a question about My Hero Construction at his weekly news conference earlier this week, pointing back to the written statement he issued Monday about Silva’s departure.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 and Eli Sherman contributed to this report.