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Embattled R.I. representative is working on recall of governor

Associated Press / September 30, 2011

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PROVIDENCE - A state lawmaker fighting calls to step down over questions about his past said yesterday that he is working to recall the governor.

Representative Daniel Gordon, a Portsmouth Republican, said that Lincoln Chafee violated state ethics rules when he urged state higher education officials to grant in-state tuition to students who immigrated to the United States illegally.

Gordon said the decision should have been left to the General Assembly.

The state constitution allows voters to oust governors who commit a crime or violate ethics rules.

“He bypassed the Legislature,’’ Gordon said. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I take that oath quite seriously.’’

A spokeswoman for Chafee, an independent, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment yesterday.

Gordon said a State House protest seeking Chafee’s recall will be held Saturday. He said he hopes to find individuals willing to help collect the thousands of signatures a recall petition would need.

Gordon’s arrest this month on charges from a 2008 police chase in Massachusetts revealed a four-month prison sentence in 1999 for assault and several other arrests. Gordon said his troubles sprang from alcohol abuse relating to post-traumatic stress from his service as a US Marine during the 1991 Gulf War. Gordon said he suffered a shrapnel injury during the war.

Military service records for Gordon list no Middle East service. Gordon has said the records are incomplete and said the controversy should not hinder the recall effort.

“Despite the recent media dust-up over my past indiscretions, it does not dissuade me from continuing,’’ he said.

This week, the state’s Board of Governors for Higher Education approved in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who attended a Rhode Island high school for at least three years and graduated or received an equivalent degree. They also have to commit to seek legal status as soon as they are eligible. Chafee wrote to the Board of Governors urging them to adopt the new policy.