McKee turns over email alleging official’s misconduct

Updated at 2:09 p.m.

GOV. DANIEL J. McKee on Thursday made public an email alleging misconduct by a top state official during a business trip to Philadelphia in March. / AP FILE PHOTO/STEVEN SENNE

PROVIDENCE – Under orders by Attorney General Peter F. Nerhona, Gov. Daniel J. McKee on Thursday made public the email that details misconduct by a top state official during a business trip to Philadelphia in March, WPRI-TV CBS 12 reported.

WPRI previously reported the email in question details allegations of unprofessional conduct during a March 10 trip to Philadelphia taken by Jim Thorsen, then director of the R.I. Department of Administration, and David Patten, director of the R.I. Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, as they visited a company seeking to redevelop the Cranston Street Armory.

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The email centers around the behavior of Patten.

WPRI confirmed Patten and Thorsen traveled on March 10 to a Philadelphia facility developed by the state contractor, Scout Ltd., in order to see a model they hoped to replicate at the long-vacant Cranston Street Armory in Providence.

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Patten began the visit in Philadelphia with a text to Lindsey Scannapieco managing partner at Scout Ltd. requesting coffee, croissants, Diet Coke and beer, according to the WPRI.

“Have a cold six pack waiting on the table in your conference room,” he added. “You have three hours to convince us to give you $55M.”

Scout officials told WPRI the demeaning behavior first revealed in Patten’s early-morning text continued throughout the day. In addition to the text to Scannapieco, Patten reportedly asked why her husband was out of the country.

“Lindsey, where is your husband? Why is he in Australia?” Scannapieco reported Patten saying to her. “Good thing your [sic] married or I would move to Philadelphia.”

She also said he told her: “If I knew your husband wasn’t going to be here, I would have come last night.”

Scannapieco and her colleague Everett Abitbol were so alarmed by the trip that they documented the two officials’ conduct in an email shared with state officials, alleging misogynistic, inappropriate and racist behavior, WPRI reported.

“We will not permit Patten or Thorsen to return to Bok ever again as we do not tolerate this type of behavior in our community,” Scout officials wrote in the email. “We do not want to work with people who support casual racism and sexism and are shocked at how this reflects on the State of Rhode Island and the lack of competence there.”

The McKee administration fought for months to keep the email secret, but lost the battle on Wednesday when Neronha ruled in favor of WPRI and The Providence Journal in an open-records complaint seeking the message.

McKee’s office released the email Thursday. It was forwarded to McKee’s chief of staff, Tony Afonso, two days after the trip by veteran political operative Jeff Britt, who’d been hired by Scout to lobby for their project at the Statehouse.

Patten went on medical leave three days after trip, WPRI reported. He stayed on medical leave until he was placed on administrative leave on May 30.

Thorsen stepped down from his post in April to return to the U.S. Treasury.

(REWRITES throughout to UPDATE with details from the released email.)

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  1. Mr. Patten’s behavior is deplorable and he has not only disgraced our state but also betrayed the trust of the people of Rhode Island. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.