Rep. Sanchez statement on alleged
casual racism and sexism by state official


STATE HOUSE – Rep. Enrique Sanchez (D-Dist. 9, Providence) has provided the following statement on the release of an email sent to the McKee administration alleging casual racism and sexism from a top administration official during a business trip to Philadelphia:

“I constantly hear it from our neighborhood small businesses in Providence. Many businesses run and staffed by people of color experience racially insensitive comments, and they don’t like it. Many women who work in businesses across our state report receiving comments from men that are not appropriate in a workplace context. Some businesses feel like they have to give free favors to powerful state officials, and they don’t like it. The allegations about how the McKee administration treated Scout, the state vendor for the Cranston Street Armory project, are exactly what is wrong with the broken culture of business and politics in our state.

Racially insensitive remarks are wrong. Harassing comments and sexual insinuations are wrong. So is extorting sneakers, beer, vegan cheese and a special opening of a fancy restaurant. On behalf of the state, I apologize to Scout for the awful way State of Rhode Island officials allegedly treated them.

So many businesses feel that they just have to go along with it. State officials are too powerful. I commend Scout for reporting this behavior. However, it is alarming that after this inexcusable behavior was reported, the McKee administration declined to include a funding request for the Cranston Street Armory project in his budget. At a minimum, it is a serious appearance of impropriety. No one should face retaliation for standing up to harassment from powerful state officials. We need to make abundantly clear that the State of Rhode Island will not blow up a project because the contractor dared, even privately, to report extortion, racism and sexual harassment. Restoring the expected funding, of course, is the first step, but we also need a clear public apology and meaningful reforms.”