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Friday, April 12, 2024

Top Rhode Island official out over work misconduct claims

A top Rhode Island official announced his resignation Thursday, closing part of an investigation into accusations of misconduct, including racially and ethnically charged remarks and requests for special treatment, during a business trip to Philadelphia earlier in the year.

The investigation focused on the visit by David Patten to review a state contractor, Scout Ltd., on March 10. Patten served as state director of capital asset management and maintenance in the Department of Administration.

After the trip, Scout officials wrote an email alleging what they described as bizarre and offensive behavior from Patten.

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Lynch said in a statement his client’s behavior was “the result of a health issue termed an acute stress event — culminating from various events over the past 3 years for which he treated and has been cleared to return to work.”

“While a simple apology is never enough, Mr. Patten is apologetic to the citizens of Rhode Island,” Lynch added. “He also apologizes to the many individuals in Philadelphia he met with in March and were, unfortunately, recipients of comments that resulted from Mr. Patten suffering this acute stress event.”

Patten’s alleged transgressions were detailed in the Scout email released in response to appeals from The Providence Journal and WPRI-TV.

Dan McKee

Rhode Island Department of Administration official David Patten has announced his resignation amid allegations of workplace misconduct. The announcement comes just one day after Democratic Gov. Dan McKee (pictured) called on Patten to step down. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

“Patten at almost every visit insisted on taking something from the tenant home with him, whether that be vegan cheese, hand blown glass or a pair of sneakers,” the email read.

Patten had been on paid leave since three days after the trip. As part of his resignation, the state will continue to pay a portion of his health coverage until Sept. 30.

McKee addressed the incident and Patten’s resignation with reporters Friday.

Two days later, the state received an email from Scout alleging “bizarre, offensive” behavior that was “blatantly sexist, racist and unprofessional.”

On March 14, Patten’s access to state computer systems and cell phones was locked.

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McKee called for Patten’s resignation Thursday. Patten announced his resignation and the human resources investigation was suspended.

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Patten was making more than $174,000 annually.

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