State Rep. Daniel Gordon, R-Portsmouth, has said he won’t step down despite questions about his criminal background and military service. He has blamed a string of legal troubles on alcohol use to cope with combat stress from the 1991 Gulf War, though military records show no Middle East service.
Additional records obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday show Gordon was demoted from lance corporal to private first class in May 1990 before being demoted to private in December 1990. He again achieved the rank of private first class in 1991, shortly before he was honorably discharged.
The 42-year-old freshman lawmaker did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday, but did send a text message to the AP questioning the relevance of the demotions. “Are you serious?” he wrote. “Do you want to see my grade on my 3rd grade … macaroni sculpture?”
Gordon was arrested last month on charges stemming from a 2008 police chase in Massachusetts. That arrest exposed past legal difficulties, including a four-month sentence in 1999 for assault, an attempted murder charge dismissed in 2004 and a long list of traffic offenses in Massachusetts.
Calls for Gordon’s resignation have come from House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, and House Minority Leader Brian Newberry, R-North Smithfield, as well as the state Republican and Democratic parties.
Gordon has said he won’t step down unless his constituents demand it.
Rep. John Edwards, D-Tiverton, represents an adjoining district and said Wednesday that dozens of Gordon’s constituents have told him they want Gordon to step down. He said he hasn’t heard from anyone supporting Gordon.
Edwards said he will pass along their concerns to legislative leaders but that short of a vote to expel Gordon from the House, he’s there to stay. In the meantime, Edwards said Gordon is creating a distraction as lawmakers prepare for a legislative session this fall dedicated to overhauling the state’s public retirement system.
Edwards said he does not plan to make a motion to expel Gordon when the House convenes. It takes a vote by two-thirds of House lawmakers to expel a member. So far no lawmaker has called for an expulsion vote.