Jessica M. Karmasek Mar. 26, 2013, 3:34pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) -- Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin's legislation prohibiting so-called "pay-to-play" contracts was expected to be heard before a House committee Tuesday.

House Bill 5490, introduced in the General Assembly last month, would prohibit state vendors that contract, in the aggregate, more than $25,000 annually from making contributions to either political committees of the officeholder who awarded the contract or to any candidate for such office.

HB 5490, sponsored by state Rep. Michael Marcello, D-Scituate, was listed on the House Judiciary Committee's agenda for consideration Tuesday.

Kilmartin called for the measure, citing a need to crack down on acts that contribute to public distrust of the government.

"In these times of budgetary strain and government distrust, the citizens of Rhode Island need assurance that their government, at all levels, is working to further the public good and not line their own pockets," the attorney general said in a statement.

"Rhode Island lags behind other states in updating our public corruption laws and hinders our ability to prosecute those who violate the public's trust."

Under the legislation, the ban is effective for the duration of the officeholder's term or for two years after the termination or expiration of the contract -- whichever is longer.

The act also prohibits state vendors whose pending bids for state contract, or whose total pending bids and contracts with the state amount to more than $25,000, from making contributions to political committees of the officeholder who awards the contract or candidate for such office.

Nine states -- including Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia -- and the federal government all have laws prohibiting the practice of "pay to play."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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