The Rhode Island Board of Elections met in executive session for more than two hours Thursday night and may have taken a vote that it does not plan to disclose to the public. Following the rare night session, during which the shouts of board members could be heard beyond the chamber’s closed doors, Raymond Marcaccio, the board’s legal counsel, said the board was not bound to disclose any vote that took place because it involved a personnel matter, and the employee is entitled to privacy. “In my opinion, what occurred in this executive session would not qualify for any of the reasons to disclose a vote at this time,” Marcaccio said. The board has not identified who was the subject of the meeting where, at one point, someone was heard shouting from behind closed doors that people were on a “witch hunt.”
John Marion, executive director of the citizens organization Common Cause Rhode Island, who regularly attends the board’s meetings, said he thinks the session was about Executive Director Robert Kando. He also questioned the legality of withholding information about a vote. “Meetings of the Board of Elections have become increasingly dysfunctional, in part because of an apparent dispute over the future of Executive Director Robert Kando. Our expectation was that at their most recent meeting, the issue, which was cloaked as a generic personnel matter on the agenda, would be settled during a closed session and reported to the public once concluded, as is standard practice. The result was the opposite,” said Marion, who was the only member of the public aside from a Providence Journal reporter to attend the meeting.
Kando, who is paid $143,131 as the board’s director, was present for the start of the closed session. He later left the room and was asked to return for the conclusion of the executive session.
“Now the board appears to have taken an action in executive session but will not reveal the result of that vote, citing the personal privacy of the individual,” Marion said. “We are not convinced that the Board of Elections met the criteria for withholding this vote about the performance of a public employee from the public. Common Cause is examining what our next course of action may be, including the possibility of filing a complaint with the attorney general’s office.”