Gordon Dennis Fox (born December 21, 1961) is an American attorney and
politician from Providence, Rhode Island. He served formerly as the
Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, before resigning
in disgrace. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), he was
first elected to the legislature in 1992. On June 11, 2015 Fox was
sentenced to three years in Federal prison after pleading guilty to
charges including bribery, fraud, and filing a false tax return.
Fox was elected Speaker on February 11, 2010 as the first openly gay
Rhode Island man to hold that office. Fox resigned from the
Speakership on the evening of March 22, 2014 following an
FBI raid on
his Smith Hill office and his home on Providence's East Side.
FBI found Fox to have stolen $108,000 in campaign contributions
and accepted $52,000 in bribes. He is currently serving his sentence
at Canaan U.S. Penitentiary in Waymart, Pennsylvania.
1 Early life and career
2 Rhode Island House of Representatives
2.1 Leadership, Speaker
2.1.1 LGBT Rights
2.1.2 Smith Hill raid, and eventual plea
3 Providence Board of Licenses
5 Personal life
7 External links
Early life and career
Gordon Dennis Fox was born on December 21, 1961, at Providence, Rhode
Island. One of six children, he is the son of Mary Fox and Mr. Fox.
Mary Fox was of Cape Verdean lineage, and Mr. Fox was of
Irish-American descent. Mr. Fox was an artisan and served as a jewelry
polisher, while his wife Mary served on private home staffs and later
at a golf ball manufacturer. Fox's parents met while his father was
stopped in Providence on return to Boston after service in the Korean
War. Fox's father died when he was eighteen.
During his childhood, Fox and his family lived for a time in a
Providence home with "a view of the Statehouse". Fox graduated
Classical High School
Classical High School in Providence.He earned a degree in
history and political science at Rhode Island College. Fox then
earned his Juris Doctor degree from Northeastern University School of
Law at Boston. While studying there, Fox commuted to Carvel ice cream
shop for work. He became an attorney.
Fox unsuccessfully ran for the Providence City Council in the
mid-1980s. Soon after, Fox contributed to the campaigns of state
representative Ray Rickman, and then state representative Patrick J.
Kennedy of Kennedy Family fame.
Rhode Island House of Representatives
Fox was first elected to the
Rhode Island House of Representatives
Rhode Island House of Representatives in
November 1992. He represented the 4th district, which included parts
of the East Side of Providence, namely the Mount Hope, Summit and
In 1993, Fox backed John B. Harwood over the more liberal Russell
Bramley for Speaker. He stated that he supported Harwood because he
was a departure from the previous House leadership and because he was
supported by Fox's mentor, George Caruolo.
In October 2001, Fox became chairman of the House Finance
Committee. A year later, in late 2002 Fox was elected Majority
On March 30, 2004, Fox came out publicly at a rally in support of
same-sex marriage at the State House. At the time he came out, Fox
was the only openly gay member of the Rhode Island General
During his tenure in the House, Fox worked to pass legislation that
created a statewide smoking ban, historic tax credit program,
affordable housing fund, mental health parity law, and protections for
victims of domestic violence. In 2004 he sponsored a Lobbyist
Disclosure Law drafted by Common Cause. The following year he
sponsored legislation that would have weakened the same law.
As soon as William J. Murphy indicated his intention to retire from
the speakership, Fox expressed interest in the position. In
October 2009, Murphy endorsed Fox in the race to succeed him. Fox
faced conservative Democrat Gregory Schadone and Republican Robert A.
Watson in the election held on February 11, 2010. Fox received 51
votes to Schadone's 14 and Watson's 5. He became the state's first
African-American and first gay Speaker of the House. He was the
first openly gay house speaker in the United States, although
John Pérez (D–Los Angeles) was elected to the
speakership of the
California State Assembly
California State Assembly several weeks before Fox.
Pérez, however, was not sworn in as speaker until March 1, 2010,
whereas Fox took office almost three weeks earlier on February 11.
During Fox's tenure as speaker, the General Assembly voted to legalize
same-sex marriage and overhauled the state's pension law, which
dramatically reduced its unfunded pension liability. The Assembly also
voted to grant 38 Studios, a video-game company owned by Curt
Schilling, a $75-million loan that they later defaulted on.
Unlike Senate President Paiva-Weed, who was opposed to same-sex
marriage and was known to block attempts to bring the issue before the
Senate, Speaker Fox was integral to bringing the legislation to the
House floor for votes. Fox would go on to be a key component for
marriage equality in Rhode Island.
Smith Hill raid, and eventual plea
In the early morning office hours of Friday, March 21, 2014, Fox's
Smith Hill third floor office, and his East Side home were raided by
officials of the U.S. Attorney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the Internal Revenue Service and the Rhode Island State Police under
sealed search warrant. That evening, under call of then deputy
Nicholas Mattielo, a faction of the democratic leadership would meet
at the Providence Marriott, to maneuver Fox out. Soon after, Fox would
resign as Speaker, and Mattielo, via the meeting he called in the wake
of the raid would be installed as Fox's successor in an
contentious House of Representatives session which saw its members
shouting at other. He remained a member of the house, but did not
run for reelection.
On March 3, 2015, Fox pleaded guilty to wire fraud, bribery and filing
a false tax return. Fox admitted to using $108,000 from his campaign
account for personal expenses, accepting a $52,000 bribe to push for
the issuance of a liquor license for a Providence restaurant in his
role as a member of the Board of Licenses, and failing to declare
these illegal sources income on his tax returns.
Providence Board of Licenses
In 2001, Mayor
Buddy Cianci appointed Fox to the Providence Board of
Licenses. In 2006 he was appointed vice-chairman of the board.
Fox resigned from the Board of Licenses in December 2009.
In 2004, Fox was fined $10,000 by the state Ethics Commission for
voting in favor of granting GTECH Corporation, a company his law firm
represented, an exclusive, 20-year, $770 million contract with the
Rhode Island Lottery.
During Fox's 2010 run for Speaker, Fox was criticized by his opponents
for co-owning a bar with an Alex Tomasso, a Providence nightclub
owner, while serving on the Providence Board of Licenses, which
Tomasso frequently appeared before. Fox and Tomasso's Sandbar &
Grill operated in
Warwick, Rhode Island
Warwick, Rhode Island from 2006 to 2008. During its
run it was frequently visited by police and cited for after-hours
drinking, noise complaints, having an underage person present, having
a fake entertainment license on the wall, and staging live
entertainment without a license. In August 2006 the bar's liquor
license was suspended for 90 days by the Warwick Board of Public
Safety. The suspension was reduced to 30 days by the state liquor
authority in March 2007. Fox recused himself during major votes before
the Board of Licenses involving Tomasso, but occasionally voted on
smaller issues. Fox was also criticized for voting on issues
involving Fatty McGee's, a bar he represented.
Following the collapse of 38 Studios, Fox was criticized for
misleading lawmakers by not making clear that $75 million of a
$125-million economic development loan-guarantee program were
earmarked for the company. He was also criticized for his close,
personal connection to Michael Corso, a consultant for 38 Studios. The
38 Studios caused Fox faced a tough reelection fight in
2012 against independent Mark Binder. Fox defeated Binder 3,328 votes
In January 2014, Fox was fined $1,500 by the state Ethics Commission
for violating a state law that requires public officials to file
financial disclosures when they do work for public agencies. Fox
failed to report the almost $43,000 he earned from preparing loan
documents for Providence's economic development agency.
Fox married Marcus LaFond on November 12, 2013 in Fox's state house
office. The couple, were previously committed to each other in a
private ceremony in 1998. In the wake of Rhode Island's Marriage
Equality act, a ceremony was officiated by William Guglietta, the
Chief Magistrate of the Rhode Island Traffic Court and Fox's former
legal counsel, and witnessed by friend and state Health & Human
Services Secretary Steven M. Costantino, and the couple was
officially entered into the marriage rolls of the state.
Mr. Lafond-Fox is a Providence hair stylist.
^ a b c Bakst, M. Charles (April 1, 2004). "Gordon Fox: Power of a
personal story". The Providence Journal. Providence Journal/Evening
^ "Gordon Fox: 'There is no excuse for my behavior'". Nancy Krause,
Ted Nesi, Tim White, Dan McGowan. WPRI.com Eyewitness News. June 11,
2015. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
Gordon Fox pleads guilty to bribery". Ted Nesi, Tim
White, Dan McGowan. WPRI.com Eyewitness News. March 2, 2015. Retrieved
October 4, 2016.
^ a b "
Gordon Fox elected first openly gay RI House speaker".
Associated Press. Boston Herald. February 11, 2010. Archived from the
original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
^ "Investigators search home, office of House Speaker Gordon D. Fox".
Providence Journal. March 21, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
Gordon Fox resigns as House speaker day after investigators raid
home, office". Providence Journal. March 22, 2014. Retrieved March 23,
Gordon Fox Begins Sentence". Tim White. WPRI.com Eyewitness News.
July 7, 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
^ a b "Gay RI House Speaker Takes Heat for Marriage Vote", The
Associated Press, May 18, 2011
^ a b c d e f g h "How high can
Gordon Fox go?". Providence Phoenix.
2007-05-09. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved
^ "How to come out as a gay politician". Providence Journal.
2007-09-03. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved
^ a b c d Parker, Paul Edward (March 22, 2014). "Fox broke barriers,
has faced scrutiny". The Providence Journal. Providence
^ Bakst, M. Charles (October 14, 2001). "New man in power: Gordon Fox,
House Finance chairman". The Providence Journal. Providence
^ "Biography, Rep. Gordon D. Fox". Rhode Island House of
Representatives. Archived from the original on 2009-10-23. Retrieved
^ Anderson, Liz (April 3, 2004). "Announcement that he's gay draws
support for Rep. Fox". The Providence Journal. Providence
^ "Murphy set to retire as R.I. House speaker". Providence Journal.
2009-10-01. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
^ Gregg, Katherine; Peoples, Steve (February 12, 2010). "Fox is House
speaker". The Providence Journal. Providence Journal/Evening
^ "Update: Rhode Island House speaker resigns amid probe". Reuters.
2014-03-22. Retrieved 2014-11-03.
^ Niedowski, Erika (March 22, 2014). "
Gordon Fox Resigning From Rhode
Island House Speaker Post After Raid". Huffington Post. Associated
Press. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
^ "Former Rhode Island House Speaker and Providence Licensing Board
Gordon Fox to Plead Guilty in Federal Court to Wire
Fraud, Bribery, and Tax Evasion". FBI. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
^ Davis, Karen A. "Mayor's diversity efforts get mixed reviews". The
Providence Journal. Providence Journal/Evening Bulletin.
^ a b c d Stanton, Mike (January 31, 2010). "For Fox, a dual role".
The Providence Journal. Providence Journal/Evening Bulletin.
^ Gregg, Katherine (October 1, 2003). "Fox dismisses any impropriety
in work for GTECH". The Providence Journal. Providence Journal/Evening
^ Bakst, M. Charles (January 25, 2004). "Fox fined, ethics debate
grows". The Providence Journal. Providence Journal/Evening
^ Gregg, Katherine (November 13, 2013). "Fox weds his longtime
partner". The Providence Journal. Providence Journal/Evening
Rhode Island House - Representative Gordon D. Fox official RI House
Profile at Project Vote Smart
Follow the Money - Gordon D. Fox
2006 2004 2002 2000 1998 1996 1994 campaign contributions