Kettle to resign from Senate following its movement to expel him

PROVIDENCE – Sen. Nicholas D. Kettle, R-Coventry, has announced he will resign, just days after Senate leadership moved to expel him from the Senate if he did not resign due to criminal charges.

Kettle has been charged with two counts of extortion of a former Senate page and charges of video voyeurism.

On Monday, Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio issued a statement that said, “Upon reviewing today’s indictment and seeing the severity of the charges, I again call upon Mr. Kettle to resign from the Senate immediately. If he refuses to resign, the Senate will pursue his expulsion from the chamber pursuant to the Rhode Island Constitution.”

On Tuesday, Ruggerio and Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere filed a resolution to expel Kettle.

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Kettle issued a statement that said he is resigning to focus on the “unfounded allegations” against him. Kettle said he was disappointed with Senate leadership, saying they “do not appear to understand the importance of due process as a cornerstone of our legal system.”

Kettle’s sentiments echo a letter to Senate leadership from the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island issued Tuesday.

“It is our understanding that the Senate has not used Article VI, Section 7 in modern history to expel a member,” the letter said. “We therefore believe it is essential that there be clear standards and measures in place before engaging in such a historic effort. To vote to expel a sitting Senator without any formal, carefully considered procedures establishes a dangerous practice. In the absence of clear due process standards, the Senate’s actions in this case will set a precedent that could be used for less-principled purposes in the future.”

The letter also said while the Senate had the power to punish its members, the act shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In a statement about the Senate filing a resolution to expel Kettle, it’s noted Ruggerio also directed his chief legal counsel to conduct a full and thorough review of all aspects of the Senate page program, including an examination of how similar programs are run in other states.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.