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Ex-Rhode Island House speaker pleads guilty to federal charges

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Fox is an attorney with a solo law practice and had held a seat in the part-time General Assembly since 1992. He became the state’s first openly gay House speaker in 2010, making a salary of $30,000 annually. He and his husband also owned a Providence hair salon that closed its doors a few months before the raids.

In his law practice, Fox had represented businesses before the city’s board of licenses and performed loan closings. He paid a $1,500 civil fine to the state ethics commission before the raids happened last year for failing to disclose more than $40,000 in loan closing work he did for a Providence economic development agency.

The state board of elections, which enforces campaign finance laws, said it had been contacted by law enforcement about Fox the same day as the raids.

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An Associated Press analysis of his campaign finance records done in May 2014 showed that 90 expense checks out of 1,000 were unaccounted for over a six-year period, with about half of those unaccounted for in 2012 and 2013 alone. Campaign finance records showed that Fox’s campaign account had $244,000 in it as of Sept. 30, 2014.

Fox also had a Statehouse employee doing his campaign books and acted as his own campaign treasurer, practices criticized by watchdog groups.

In June, Fox disclosed to the ethics commission that he had received a personal $10,000 loan from a registered legislative lobbyist in 2009 and had not paid it back over a period of years. He had not disclosed it in any of those years.

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