Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon Fox at the Statehouse in Providence. (Image source: AP/Steven Senne, File)
Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox is resigning from his leadership post and will not run for reelection, he said Saturday, a day after state and federal authorities — including the FBI and IRS — raided his Statehouse office and home as part of a criminal investigation that they would not detail.
"Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker," Fox said in a written statement emailed Saturday evening to reporters. "The process of governing must continue and the transition of leadership must be conducted in an orderly manner."
The 52-year-old Providence Democrat — who became the nation's first openly gay speaker in 2010— said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term, but that "my personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation."
The Friday raids were carried out by the U.S. attorney's office, FBI, IRS and state police. Boxes of evidence were carried off, but officials have not said whom or what they are investigating.
FBI investigators leave the office of Rhode island House Speaker Gordon Fox at the Statehouse in Providence, R.I., Friday, March 21, 2014. Rhode Island House Majority Leader Nick Mattiello says he has called an "informational caucus" for Friday evening for Democrats to talk about the future of the House. Mattiello tells The Associated Press that Friday's news that Fox's statehouse office and home were raided by state and federal law enforcement is "unsettling." Mattiello says he wants to be the next speaker, and is aware that other House members, including Chris Blazejewski and Mike Marcello, are also interested in the top spot. Neither lawmaker returned messages. (Image source: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Fox came out as gay in 2004, in an unplanned announcement, while addressing a same-sex marriage rally. He became the nation's first openly gay House speaker when he assumed the post in 2010.
In 2011, after abandoning gay marriage legislation because of opposition in the Senate and pushing instead for civil unions, Fox was roundly criticized by some gay marriage supporters who felt bitter and let down.
But Fox was instrumental in pushing the legislation through two years later as the political climate on the issue shifted nationally. He became emotional at the bill-signing ceremony on the Statehouse steps as he addressed the crowd and talked about his longtime partner, Marcus LaFond, whom he called "the love of my life."
"This tells me our relationship does matter," Fox said. "It means that we mean something."
The two were married last year in Fox's Statehouse office.
Fox once summed up his unlikely rise to become one of the most powerful figures in Rhode Island government this way: "I'm a biracial gay kid that wasn't supposed to be speaker."
Here's a report about the raids that preceded Fox's resignation announcement:
This story has been updated.