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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Justin Price must resign or Filippi must throw him out

Richmond State Rep has been an embarrassment since his first day in office

By Will Collette

I’ve covered the General Assembly career of Rep. Justin Price ever since 2014 when he defeated Rep. Larry Valencia, a smart, principled guy, and became one of the dumbest people at the State House.

2014 was a bad year for local progressives. Not only did Larry lose to wingnut Price, but Rep. Donna Walsh lost to Blake “Flip” Filippi and Senator Cathy Cool Rumsey lost to Elaine Morgan.

Price, Flip and Morgan became a de facto South County wingnut caucus that supports armed militias, opposes vaccination, backs Trump and espouses conspiracy theories.

Of this terrible trio, Price was clearly the most unhinged. During the opening session of the General Assembly last week, Price and a fellow Trumplican had to be segregated in a separate room because they refused to adhere to anti-COVID guidelines and wear masks.

After six years of reckless and feckless conduct, there are finally calls for Price to resign from General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and at least four members of RI House.

This latest Price flap kicked off when Price decided to pick a fight with RI Public Radio’s top political reporter Ian Donnis. Donnis wrote about the Trump Riot at the US Capitol, an event that Price admitted he attended.

Price didn’t like Donnis’s coverage because Donnis did not include Price’s claim that the storming and trashing of the Capitol was all Antifa’s fault.

As Donnis explains:

In an interview with The Public’s Radio on Friday, Price said, “Antifa went in there, did some, you know, bad stuff, raised the flag for Trump and blamed it on Trump. It’s confirmed.”

In fact, while some conservatives have claimed antifa was involved, the FBI, mainstream news sources and fact-checking sites say there is no basis for that claim.

The Public’s Radio did not initially report Price’s account of being in Washington since it was not factual. 

Price claims he did not go into the Capitol and no photos or video to disprove his claim have surfaced. 


Price’s Twitter rants pushing the discredited claim that Antifa was responsible for the mob violence at the Capitol led to the initial calls for his resignation from state Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Cranston) and Treasurer Magaziner.

Potter stated:

"In light of Rep. Justin Price’s admission to being present at the U.S. Capitol and his public comments regarding the attack, it is clear he is unfit for office. I call for his immediate resignation from the Rhode Island House of Representatives…There is a "redline with no room beyond it for ‘leaders’ who support an attempted coup by continuing to spread lies and baseless conspiracies about who, in fact, the perpetrators of this attack were. It is a disgrace to our country, our state, and certainly the constituents represented.” 

General Treasurer Seth Magazine issued this statement:

"At a time when American democracy is under siege from conspiracy theorists and white supremacists determined to overturn the free and fair Presidential election, Representative Justin Price has abused his platform by amplifying false conspiracy theories surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol. His behavior risks inflaming an already charged situation by encouraging those seeking to overturn the election.

“As elected officials we are duty bound to defend our democratic system of government, to tell our constituents the truth, and to promote public health in the midst of this pandemic. Representative Price's actions of the past week demonstrate that he lacks the judgement to hold public office. He should resign from the House. If he does not, the House Republican Caucus should expel him to make clear that his behavior does not represent the Republican Party in our state."

Treasurer Magaziner also cited Price’s refusal to wear a mask during last week’s General Assembly session.

No word from Charlestown’s Rep Blake “Flip” Filippi. As House Minority Leader, heading up the small band of RI Trumplicans, he could seek to eject Price from their caucus.

I doubt Flip will make any move to bounce Price since they’ve been joined at the hip since their elections in 2014. 

However, Flip is famous for flipping his positions – thus the nickname – and could decide it’s to his political advantage to turn on his political friend and ally.

But if Flip decides to keep Price, he owns what comes with that decision.

Justin Price needs to go. As I wrote in August 2015 in “If only there was a vaccine for stupid:”

“Whatever most normal people are for, Justin Price is against, and he usually takes a swig from the Tea Party jug before throwing out some ultra-right cliché to justify his position.