State Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio was on the job Thursday, a day after his early morning arrest in Barrington for drunken driving and refusing a breath test.
Ruggerio, D-North Providence, was not giving interviews because his lawyer said he can’t talk about it. But that doesn’t mean Ruggerio’s arrest early Wednesday morning doesn’t have consequences.
“I think the voters of Rhode Island are rightly discouraged and disappointed yet again that one of our senior legislators has been arrested and charged with what is quite a serious infraction,” said Tony Affigne, a political science professor at Providence College.
Affigne said the story is not going to change until voters step up and demand it.
“I think in Rhode Island we need a more open political system. We need more new blood. We need voters to take their voting more seriously and look a little more closely at these legislators. It is starting to look like a pattern, although it may just be random. This is a very difficult time for political credibility in Rhode Island,” Affigne said.
Four Rhode Island lawmakers have faced criminal charges in the past 12 months.
Bur for now, it’s business as usual. Ruggerio is the leader of the dominant Democratic Party in the Senate, and continues to have the support of Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed.
“Any act which any elected official may or may not do concerns me. However, in this instance he’s accepted responsibility and has resumed his responsibilities and continues to perform those responsibilities,” Paiva Weed said.
Paiva Weed said she’s happy with Ruggerio being majority leader.
Ruggerio will be in court next month to answer the charges.