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Friday, June 24, 2022

Flip is out

Goodbye and good riddance to Blake Filippi

By Will Collette

Flip tweeted this photo last Sunday

Charlestown’s state Representative Blake “Flip” Filippi has announced he will NOT run for re-election in November. For many, this was a big surprise.

Filippi won in 2014, defeating effective incumbent Rep. Donna Walsh (D) with the support from the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA).

Filippi ran as a libertarian but without any fixed beliefs or principles, a trait that characterized his eight years in office. Not surprisingly, he finally came out as a Republican.

He couldn’t seem to give an actual fixed address with official documents listing him as living in Lincoln, Providence and various Block Island addresses.

That was our first inkling that Flip has a very loose relationship with the truth. Over his time in office, I have documented numerous occasions where he said one thing but did something entirely different. CLICK HERE for a prime example of his casual relationship with the truth.

He has close historical ties to the far-right armed militia group, the Oath Keepers, who led the storming the Capitol on January 6.

Virtually none of legislation sponsored by Filippi was ever enacted, though he did take credit for legislation sponsored by others, such as a bill to limit quarry dust (actually Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy’s bill) and lowering state income tax on Social Security (which was Rep. Bob Craven’s bill).

He botched this year’s push for a modest shoreline access bill by failing to line up any support in the Senate. Serious legislators almost always get a sponsor for a companion bill in the other house in order to expedite legislative success, but Flip has never been a serious legislator, always more interested in personal publicity than achievement.

Flip tweeted this photo on Monday. I'm not sure if this is a before or after snap
It didn’t help that in 2015, Filippi blocked public access to the beach in front of one of the family properties, Ballard’s, on Block Island with a fence that ran down to the water and with a dumpster blocking the path used by Block Island Rescue to get to emergency calls on the beach.

Filippi was known to sponsor downright goofy legislation, such as numerous efforts to pass amendments to the Rhode Island Constitution and for Rhode Island to secede from the Eastern Time zone and join the Canadian Maritime Provinces in the Atlantic zone.

Filippi voted against every single gun bill (other than those proposed by gun nuts) and tried to block Rhode Island from codifying Roe v. Wade. Yep, that’s our Flip.

For all the support the CCA gave him, what do they have to show for it? 

Even though the CCA disliked Donna Walsh because she is a Democrat, Donna knew how to get things done and served her constituents well.

In his farewell remarks, Filippi singled out obstructionism as his only achievement. As WPRI described it:

“Filippi said his proudest moments included refusing to suspend the House rules during the final stages of the 2019 session, reining in the speaker’s powers; filing a lawsuit over the management of the committee that handles the Assembly’s budget; fighting the proposed Lifespan-Care New England hospital merger; and working on an effort to clarify Rhode Islanders’ rights of access to the shoreline.”

Filippi was vague about his reasons for leaving saying only that after eight years, he decided to make way for somebody new.

His colleague Mike Chippendale who immediately takes over as Republican Minority Leader did little to help to clarify. Chippendale said he wasn’t being pushed out and said it could have just been personal or business related.

In recent years, Filippi fought his mother and brother Steve in court over the family businesses. His mother accused him of deception and manipulation in court filings. So, yeah, maybe it’s business.

Whatever it is, he announced his departure with no apparent Republican contender to run for his seat. Since the one consistent thing about Filippi was his thirst for publicity, his abrupt departure from office raises a lot of questions about why he decided to leave when some conservative sources called him the RI GOP's "top star."

As of this writing, the only candidate is Democrat Tina Spears of Charlestown who has just won the party’s endorsement for House District 36.

The deadline for candidates to declare for office is Wednesday.