- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - One of Rhode Island’s top Democratic leaders is facing criticism over an audit he ordered and the relocation of records possibly connected to it.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello recently ordered a performance audit of the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority through the legislature’s Joint Committee on Legislative Services, as the agency was dealing with a personnel issue involving one of his campaign donors, WPRI-TV reported.

Mattiello said he received information about the authority’s finances and the audit wasn’t related to the employee, though he canceled it after questions were raised. House Minority Leader Blake Filippi filed a lawsuit Thursday.

Filippi demanded answers in a letter sent to reporters Tuesday, after WPRI-TV reported that state police inspected a Statehouse dumpster on a tip that documents were removed from the Joint Committee on Legislative Services office.

The office says there’s a mold issue and no documents were disposed. Larry Berman, the speaker’s spokesman, told The Providence Journal Filippi’s letter is “pure politics” and records were relocated.

Five Democratic lawmakers are now calling for a Democratic caucus to question the speaker. They’re part of a group that opposed Mattiello’s reelection as speaker last year.

Berman said Wednesday the vast majority of House Democrats support Mattiello and there are no plans to hold a caucus.

Democratic Gov. Gina Ramondo told WPRI-TV Mattiello didn’t follow the rules for ordering the audit.

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