RI State Rep. Proposes Background Checks for Candidates Running for Office

How much does it matter to you if your local, state, or national leaders have criminal histories? What if the criminal histories involved embezzlement or jail time? While the people haven’t spoken up, State Rep. Scott Slater of Rhode Island proposed a bill requiring all candidates running for office to submit to background checks. Each candidate would be required to disclose all criminal history before running for office.

Out of all 50 states, Rhode Island has the greatest corruption per capita, and Rep. Scott’s bill appears to be an intervention to reverse this trend. At the same time, Rep. Scott’s proposal didn’t come without a source. Rather, State Rep. Dan Gordon was found to have extensive criminal history recently, including jail time spent in Massachusetts. Additionally, all current officials would be subject to the same procedure if running for reelection.

Politicians shouldn’t be above the law, especially as the average citizen when applying for employment needs to go through a criminal background check. State Rep. Daniel Reilly appears to agree with Rep. Scott’s sentiments:

“I think anyone that’s charged with criminal wrongdoing, while certainly entitled to their day in court, should all be held to the same standards. They become a major distraction if they serve in public office, and these are serious issues that have a negative impact on the community. This stands true for both Republicans and Democrats, but we’ve certainly been hearing more calls for Dan Gordon to resign when compared with the others; he’s blowing them out of the water.”

Last year, a similar bill was proposed in Brazil and passed. Called Ficha Limpa, the new law requires all politicians to have clean records. Anyone politician – experienced or novice – found guilty of one or more crimes needs to wait eight years before running for office.

Do you agree that this bill in Rhode Island would put a halt to the state’s history of corruption? Do you think it’s necessary that politicians running for office be treated like average citizens seeking employment?