Representative Michael Chippendale Calls for Governor and RI Commerce Corporation to Halt Tax Credits to Unscrupulous Developer
STATE HOUSE -- Representative Michael Chippendale (R-District 40 Foster, Glocester, Coventry) is questioning Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s decision to allocate taxpayer money to Lance Robbins, a real estate developer with a criminal history.
Governor Gina Raimondo and the Board of the RI Commerce Corporation have recently approved $3.6 million in taxpayer funding to one of Lance Robbins’ newest expansion projects, a 149 Unit Apartment Complex in Pawtucket.
Representative Chippendale says, "Once again, we're seeing taxpayer dollars being given to a very questionable business by the Governor and the RI Commerce Corporation - formerly the Economic Development Corporation which created the 38 Studios deal, and once again we're seeing secrecy and a refusal to disclose details about this project to the media and the public on behalf of the Governor. The fact that the Governor's office has refused to release any real details about this decision despite numerous media attempts to get the information from her, tells me something stinks about this deal."
Allegations against Robbins includes being cited with 105 health and building-code violations, which amounted to 32 convictions, and paid $1 million in fines in Los Angeles, California. Robbins is also accused of violating agreements, and not paying bills to small businesses in Rhode Island.
“Robbins has been connected with scandals, lawsuits and legal convictions dating as far back as 1986. His company, Urban Smart Growth (which the tax credits are going to), also just recently pulled out of a similar deal in North Carolina, which led to a 2015 lawsuit against Urban Smart Growth. Why on earth would the state of Rhode Island want to gamble with taxpayer money, by placing a bet with what appears to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing?” Representative Chippendale added.
Representative Chippendale went on to say, "When taxpayer dollars are allocated to 'incentivize' business growth, I don't believe we should be giving that money to an individual who has been described by the Los Angeles Times on 3/26/2006 as a 'slumlord' and has been embroiled in legal battles for his business practices for over 30 years. This is precisely how 38 Studios came to be - an unqualified business being given taxpayer monies in an attempt to stimulate the economy. I find it incredible that the Governor would defend the decision to give millions in tax credits to a convict who has been a scofflaw for 3 decades."
"I am calling for the Governor to immediately halt this deal, disclose all documents and information regarding the company and the project and any safeguards that may be in place to prevent another disaster like 38 Studios."
For more information, contact:
Raina C. Smith, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903