By Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox acknowledged Tuesday that he failed to disclose he had done more than $40,000 in legal work for a Providence economic development agency, and agreed to pay a $1,500 civil fine for violating state ethics laws.

The state ethics commission agreed to a settlement with Fox on Tuesday. As part of the agreement, the Providence Democrat acknowledged breaking a law that requires elected officials to annually report whether they received more than $250 in income from a government agency. He will pay $500 for each year that he acknowledges violating the law: 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Fox received $42,896.69 in total payments from the Providence Economic Development Partnership in those years, according to the settlement agreement. His lawyer had argued that most of those payments were made when Fox was a subcontractor for another lawyer, and he therefore was not required under the ethics laws to report the income.

“It’s a convoluted question on the form,” Fox’s lawyer, Albin Moser, said after the commission’s unanimous vote to approve the settlement Tuesday morning.

Fox also amended his financial disclosure statements to include that he had received income from the agency. He performed loan closings for it.

The law does not require that elected officials report an exact dollar amount of what they received, but Fox’s income during the three years was disclosed in the settlement agreement.

Moser said that from 2010 through 2012, Fox worked directly for the agency. He previously reported receiving income from the agency in those years, although was not required to disclose how much. Moser said Fox’s income from the agency during those years was along the same lines as what he was paid in the three years covered by the settlement.

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