Investigation: Governor’s chief of staff did not break law

July 20, 2022 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee’s former chief of staff did not break the law when he personally involved himself in efforts to secure approval to develop some wetlands he had a financial interest in, but he did show “poor judgment,” state Attorney General Peter Neronha said in a report released Wednesday.

While Anthony Silva’s dealings with state Department of Environmental Management and Cumberland town officials were not criminal, his conduct undermined confidence in state government, the 22-page report concluded.

“The picture that all this paints is one consistent with what many Rhode Islanders believe happens routinely: a government insider who, because of his position ... was able to have the ear of top DEM officials and put his application on their radar screen,” the report said.

The investigation centered on whether Silva broke bribery or extortion laws. The report concluded there is no evidence he offered anything of value in exchange for approval, and he never threatened anyone.

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Silva had an agreement to purchase the property in Cumberland — where McKee was once mayor and Silva was police chief — and wanted to build on it. Neighbors opposed development, saying it would worsen flooding in the area.

After the agency issued the necessary approvals, the property was purchased by Silva’s son. It was never developed and later donated to the town.

Silva resigned last August when the issue became what McKee called a “distraction,” and the Democratic governor requested the investigation. Silva maintained he did nothing wrong.

A McKee spokesperson in a statement said “based on this report, the people of Rhode Island should have full confidence in how both the Governor and the Department of Environmental Management conduct state business.”

The state Ethics Commission in January dismissed a complaint against Silva lodged by the state Republican Party.

A message was left with an attorney for Silva.