PROVIDENCE — Lifespan Corp., the state’s largest health care system, has hired former Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello as a lobbyist while the company seeks approval for a merger with Care New England.
Mattiello, a Cranston Democrat, was defeated for his bid for reelection last November against Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung. On Thursday, he registered as a lobbyist with Westminster Consulting where he will make $2,000 per month lobbying for Lifespan.
Mattiello was also recently hired as a principal by Moses Ryan LTD, a Providence-based law firm.
“Lifespan has an established lobbying relationship with Moses Afonso Ryan, and consistent with Secretary of State requirements we registered Nicholas Mattiello as one of our lobbyists so that we can engage him as needed,” read a statement sent to the Globe by Lifespan spokeswoman Kathleen Hart.
Lifespan, which owns five hospitals in Rhode Island, was told this week that its merger application with Care New England, which owns three hospitals, was “deemed complete” by the Rhode Island attorney general’s office. The state has 120 days to either approve the proposed merger, approve with stipulations, or deny the deal altogether.
Hart said Mattiello would not be lobbying on behalf of the merger.
Mattiello told a Globe reporter that he “just signed on” and “has not engaged in any conversations” regarding his new client.
When asked if he thinks a merger between the two systems will be good for Rhode Island, Mattiello said, “They are now a client and my old policy positions are different. Quite frankly, I’ve just joined the team and I look forward to working with them. They are a great system that provides exceptional care and creates jobs.”
He said he’s unsure what issues he’ll be working on for Lifespan.
“I look at lobbying clients almost like I do for my law clients. I’ll try to facilitate where appropriate,” he said. “I just joined the team and have yet to partake in any policy conversations or decisions.”
Mattiello, a conservative Democrat from a district won by former President Trump in 2016, was first elected in 2006, and had won praise from business leaders for improving the state’s standing in various national tax rankings. But his staff, and his closest supporters in the house, were riddled with scandals during his tenure-- and his critics, which included Republicans and progressive Democrats, said he never took responsibility for any of the ordeals. He was often considered a heavily divisive politician who acted that ruled as speaker since 2014 after Gordon D. Fox announced his resignation.
In the trial of Jeffrey T. Britt, a political operative charged with money laundering and making illegal campaign contributions to aid Mattiello’s 2016 re-election campaign, the speaker claimed he “knew nothing.”
Fenton-Fung, who is also married to former popular Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, said previously that Mattiello made a mistake by not bringing the General Assembly back into session to deal with issues concerning the pandemic.
“People were like: If you don’t want to do the job anymore, time for you to go,” she said to reporters the day after Mattiello conceded.