Investigation Unveils Racially and Ethnically Charged Remarks
Rhode Island’s state director of capital asset management and maintenance, David Patten, has resigned following accusations of misconduct during a business trip to Philadelphia earlier this year. The allegations include racially and ethnically charged remarks and requests for special treatment. Patten’s resignation comes after a human resources investigation highlighted highly inappropriate conduct, deemed entirely unacceptable by Rhode Island officials.
Probe Centers Around Scout Ltd. Contractor Review
The investigation focused on Patten’s visit to review a state contractor, Scout Ltd., on March 10. Scout officials later sent an email detailing what they described as bizarre and offensive behavior exhibited by Patten during the visit.
Rhode Island Governor Calls for Resignation
Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee wasted no time in calling for Patten’s resignation in light of the investigation’s findings. An aide to the governor emphasized the importance of upholding the integrity of the state workforce and Rhode Island’s values.
Official’s Resignation Effective June 30th
Through his lawyer Michael Lynch, Patten announced his decision to step down, with his resignation set to take effect on June 30th. Lynch stated that Patten’s behavior stemmed from an acute stress event caused by various factors over the past three years, for which he sought treatment and has since been cleared to return to work. While an apology alone is never enough, Patten expresses remorse towards the citizens of Rhode Island and the individuals in Philadelphia who were impacted by his behavior.
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Details of Alleged Misconduct Revealed
The Scout email released in response to press appeals provides insight into Patten’s alleged transgressions. During a conversation with a doctor who assists the poor, Patten allegedly made inappropriate remarks, asking about the doctor’s experiences with women at bars. After the doctor revealed he was happily married, Patten pressed him about his heritage, to which the doctor mentioned being Jewish. Patten reportedly responded with “mazel tov” and commented on knowing Jewish people in Brooklyn.
At a shoe store, Patten’s behavior allegedly continued, as he made derogatory comments about China after receiving a pair of sneakers. He then directed his attention to a female Asian staff member, saying “no offense, hun.” The email further stated that Patten consistently insisted on taking items from various businesses he visited, including vegan cheese, hand-blown glass, and sneakers.
State to Provide Health Coverage Until September 30th
Since three days after the Philadelphia trip, Patten had been on paid leave. As part of his resignation agreement, the state will continue to pay a portion of his health coverage until September 30th.
Governor McKee Speaks Out
Addressing the incident and Patten’s resignation, Governor McKee expressed his disappointment and emphasized that such behavior is not tolerated by the state of Rhode Island. He acknowledged that his hands had been tied during the initial human resources investigation but assured the public that the investigation was conducted thoroughly and swiftly.
McKee recounted the events of the incident, explaining that the report about Patten’s behavior prompted the initial investigation. Two days later, Scout sent an email describing Patten’s behavior as blatantly sexist, racist, and unprofessional. As a result, Patten’s access to state computer systems and cell phones was restricted, and an apology was issued.
Ongoing Investigations and Conclusion
Governor McKee’s legal office referred the matter to state police in April, and an ongoing investigation is still underway. Patten was cleared to return to work by his doctor on May 30th but was placed on paid administrative leave to allow for the continuation of the human resources investigation. With Patten’s resignation, the human resources investigation has been suspended.
Rhode Island Department Halts Unacceptable Behavior
The resignation of David Patten puts an end to a troubling chapter for the Rhode Island Department of Administration. Governor McKee has made it clear that such behavior goes against the values and expectations of the state, and he expressed his commitment to upholding high standards for state employees.
Patten’s annual salary exceeded $174,000, reflecting the significant role he held within the Department of Administration. Rhode Island residents and officials hope that such misconduct will not be seen again in the state’s government agencies.