PROVIDENCE – With a minimum of fanfare, and no official recognition from the dais, Rep. Gordon Fox took his seat on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday, the first time he entered the chamber since he resigned the speaker’s gavel in the wake of a March 21 raid on his Statehouse office by state and federal law enforcement officials.
He was greeted cordially by some representatives and staff, shaking hands and kissing cheeks as he made his appearance.
Fox had taken some heat from the media and political opponents for not showing up for sessions for almost all of April while continuing to collect his legislative pay and health benefits, leaving his district on the East Side of Providence unrepresented.
“This institution could not have run with what is going on in my personal life,” if he remained speaker, Fox told reporters who crowded around him after the session. He said he is staying in the House because, “I am elected until January to represent my constituents and I believe still be effective as a representative under the circumstances.” Fox said he always felt that, “if I can’t be effective as a representative or Speaker or any other role, I will move on.
“It’s an adjustment, but it’s not hard,” Fox said of sitting among the rank and file representatives instead of the Speaker’s rostrum. “I don’t need to be the Speaker or whatever. I know a lot of people don’t believe that but I’m a representative like everybody else
“I’ve been here for 22 years and I can’t imagine a year when I missed 12 sessions,” he said, “I’ve always tried to be a very responsible, hard-working representative. So it’s been bothering me for a long time, but in a lot of ways it is like coming out of a shock.
Asked if he feels he did anything wrong, Fox steadfastly refused to talk about his legal troubles or the investigation into his activities. He said he only wanted to talk about returning to the House of Representatives.
“I still care about the same issues,” Fox said, “I still care about the city (Providence), I still care about taxes, I still care about economic development, I still care about the unemployment numbers in the state, I still care about a quality public education, I still care about public funding for RIPTA, I havce all those same concerns, it is just that I am going to be dealing with them in a different role.”
Fox said he had intended to return on Tuesday, the day the House returned from its week-long spring recess, but a family obligation prevented him from doing so.
Responding to a question about putting his East Side home up for sale and if it means he will be leaving the state, Fox said, “I have to sell the house before I know where I’m moving so I haven’t thought far.”
As for his legacy, Fox said, “I hope people will look at my record one day and say the state is a little better because he was here than without me being here.”
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