October 17, 2014

RI Progressive Democrats coordinator Bell files complaint regarding financial disclosure

By Benjamin Branchaud
Narragansett Times 10/17/14
SOUTH KINGSTOWN - An oversight by Candidate for House District 34 Stephen Tetzner resulted in an ethics complaint that was filed against him on Tuesday regarding the lack of his filing of the Ethics Commission financial disclosure statement for 2011 and 2013. 
Tetzner filed the paperwork before the complaint was accepted by the Ethics Commission, claiming that he did not realize candidates were required to submit that form. 
"I did not understand that that form had to be filed by General Assembly candidates; I thought that was only for elected officials," said Tetzner yesterday. "It was an oversight on my part, which is no excuse. I should have known to file it. I didn't file it in 2012, either, and I never heard from anybody, so I didn't know that I was doing anything wrong now."
Tetzner claims that immediately after hearing about the complaint, he called the Ethics Commission and filed the paperwork, which discloses businesses and organizations that candidates and elected officials are associated with or owe personal money to (excluding primary residence mortgage). The form does not disclose income, personal wealth or the value of assets owned. 
"When you look at the form, it's like 'why wouldn't somebody do it?' There's nothing on there that discloses any personal or private information," said Tetzner. "It was a oversight."
The complaint was filed by Providence Resident Sam Bell, the state coordinator of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, who endorse Tetzner's opponent, Teresa Tanzi.
"I have to be honest: we think Teresa is awesome," said Bell on Wednesday when asked about his private investigation into the local race. "We think she's been a fantastic state representative and we'd love to see her back in the state house."
Tanzi stressed the importance of this particular form when asked to comment on the issue.
"Financial disclosure reports show where a candidate's financial interests lie and where his or her business ties are so that there can be true accountability when introducing bills or asking questions in committees," she said on Tuesday. "Legislators often recuse themselves from voting and debating based on these self interests. Disclosure of financial interests is a crucial piece for anyone running for office. Having the public know their candidate has a clean bill of ethics health before they can run will be an important first step in restoring the public's trust and ensuring that voters have all the information necessary to make the right decision in the voting booth."