Ethics Commission lifts ban on Schmitt votes

Ethics Commission lifts ban on Schmitt votes

CUMBERLAND - Town Council member Scott Schmitt, a landlord who rents to the popular attorney Scott Partington, may now vote on issues involving petitioners represented by Partington, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission has ruled.

Since he was elected in November, Schmitt has recused himself whenever Partington was the attorney before the council. Schmitt and his wife Irene own the office building at 2176 Mendon Road where Partington and his law partner James Bigos have their office.

This month, the ethics panel reversed its finding of last February after Schmitt transferred all ownership of the complex to his wife.

Schmitt, who owns several small businesses in the area, has repeatedly found himself unable to participate in the rezoning requests advocated by Partington. Most recently he did not sit in on the Blackstone Valley Prep's new school request on Broad Street because Partington was one of the attorneys.

In February, the commission had ruled: "It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the Petitioner, a member of the Cumberland Town Council, a municipal elected position, is prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating when an attorney, who is also his tenant, represents another person before the Town Council."

Partington's office is in one of four brick buildings in a mini-office park the Schmitts developed and where Town Council member Arthur Lambi currently has his accounting office. The site had been owned by Mayor Daniel McKee at one time and it's a previous location for The Valley Breeze. Partington is the son of the late Chief John Partington, for whom the police station is named.