"Concerned about Assembly's Ethics" by Robert Benson, Jr.

Question 3 on the November ballot will ask the voters if we should convene a constitutional convention. Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union, says “if your concerned about legislative shenanigans, you should reject Question 3 on November’s ballot” (“The General Assembly’s kid brother,” Commentary, Oct. 3).

It is the very concern about legislative shenanigans that is the strongest justification for approving this ballot question. Just this last year the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend passage of a bill that would let the voters decide whether we should restore the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction over state legislators. A day later, House Speaker Gordon Fox used a questionable interpretation of the House rules to void the Judiciary Committee’s vote. If that’s not legislative shenanigans, I don’t know what is!

I testified on several occasions before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a bill that would have let the voters decide whether legislators should be subject to Ethics Commission jurisdiction. The ACLU’s Steven Brown was sitting right next to me testifying against this bill. Maybe Mr. Brown is satisfied with our state legislature’s conduct on this issue. I’m not.

The only way we’ll ever strengthen the Ethics Commission or realize any other government reform is via a constitutional convention. This is the people’s convention, not the politicians’ convention.

Don’t let the fear mongers make us wait another 10 years for this to happen. Vote “Yes” on Question 3.

Robert A. Benson Jr.