FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 29, 2016
Monique Chartier Tel: 401-261-0508
StopTollsRI Condemns Bully Tactics Directed at Those Who Do Not Submit To The Will
Of Smith Hill Leadership
Calls on Governor, Speaker and Senate President to End This Gross Abuse of Power
Providence, RI-- Today, Robert Lafleur, Executive Director of the RI Independent Contractors Association (RIICA) made the shocking announcement that he has parted ways with RIICA as a direct result of intimidation tactics from the General Assembly. Mr. Lafleur had led RIICA's truck rallies against Governor Gina Raimondo's truck toll plan at the State House several weeks ago and had made a very articulate case about the negative impact of tolls on RIICA's members, on all trucks and small businesses and, most importantly, on the state's residents and economy.
This revelation is the latest in a series of bullying and retaliatory acts that accompanied the passage of the destructive and highly unpopular truck toll bill. One of the early incidents involved confirmed reports that Speaker Mattiello’s office cited Hopkinton's public opposition to tolls in refusing to meet with town officials about shorted state aid. Additionally, after the legislature had voted on the toll bill, the speaker moved swiftly to remove three committee members from influential committees who had voted the "wrong" way. But arguably the most egregious incident had been the district-specific list of RIDOT projects that was circulated, at the height of the debate, among all legislators, as a not-so-veiled threat to muscle them into voting the "right" way on the toll bill.
"The bullying tactics and the punishment that was meted out on Smith Hill reached an unprecedented level during and after the toll debate. We even received a report that a RIDOT staffer was on the floor of the Senate circulating the list of RIDOT projects in person among senators", says StopTollsRI spokesperson Monique Chartier. "Nobody thought it could get any worse. But now we hear that the retaliation has reached into a private sector organization!"
In a just-released statement, Mr. Lafleur said, "Never in my many years of involvement at the State House have I ever seen a more toxic culture of intimidation and fear-mongering by the leadership.”
"This gross abuse of power is a clear violation of the most narrow interpretation of the First Amendment and an attempt to torpedo the democratic process", emphasized Chartier. "It is unimaginable that someone would lose their job simply because they spoke out against a policy they believed would be detrimental to the state. We call on Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Paiva-Weed to affirm voters' First Amendment rights by condemning and immediately ending these coercive tactics. We also call on the public to contact their respective legislators and let them know that they do not approve of this type of outright coercion. Elected officials must be reminded that they work for us and that the public will not tolerate these bullying tactics."
StopTollsRI.com is a coalition of citizen groups opposing not just the Governor’s Truck-Toll plan, but ANY toll proposal. The public is encouraged to take action to oppose tolls at www.StopTollsRI.com.
Concerned Island Taxpayers
The Gaspee Project
Little Compton Taxpayers
North Kingstown Taxpayers
Ocean State Taxpayers in Action (OSTPA)
Portsmouth Concerned Citizens
Sakonnet Toll Opposition Platform (STOP)
RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity
The Coalition Talk Radio
Rhode Island Farm Bureau
Rhode Island Federation of Republican Women
Portsmouth Business Association