2006-12-07 / Front Page

Rep. Bruce Long speaks out on personal issues

By Donna K. Drago

In recent days, Bruce J. Long, Jamestown's representative at the Statehouse, has been the subject of scathing negative publicity, which began as allegations by his ex-wife, Valerie Long, that he has been a drug addict, a domestic abuser, a philanderer, a childsupport scofflaw, and a tax cheat. News of this broke statewide as part of a Jim Taricani I-Team investigation on Channel 10.

Since the initial release of information, Rep. Robert Watson, the House minority leader, has suggested that Long might not be effective as a representative, especially because he owes back federal taxes, but Watson stopped short of calling for Long's resignation from the seat he has held for 27 years-the longest of any member of the House of Representatives.

Among Valerie Long's allegations is that Bruce Long has not paid federal income taxes on his business for a number of years, and that according to an interview with the Providence Journal, the reason is that Long was trying to minimize his income so as not to pay more in child support for their daughter.

In a statement to the Jamestown Press, Bruce Long said, "I have consistently been up to date on my personal income tax and on all sales taxes and payroll taxes" owed by his company, a Del's Lemonade franchise in Middletown. On not paying business taxes to get out of paying child support, Long said that accusation is "patently untrue."

Long said that for many years he did not have an accountant and did all of his own bookkeeping and tax filing. Not properly paying business taxes was the result of what Long called being "sloppy and disorganized." He said he lived out of piles "on my desk, on my kitchen table," and noted that if one went to look at his desk on the House floor at the Statehouse, "it's not very orderly."

Long said he has hired an accountant who is looking into his tax situation - admitting that his sloppy record keeping may make the process a lengthy one. "If it's determined that I owe taxes, I will pay them and all penalties," Long said.

Long also admits to being an addict since he was in his teens, another allegation that was brought up on Channel 10.

"I want to be upfront," Long said about his addiction to alcohol and other substances. He said he has been in recovery for seven years, and that he still attends "five or six meetings a week" to deal with what he refers to as "my disease."

Since Long is entering his fifth year of representing Jamestown in the General Assembly, he has not been a drug or alcohol abuser during any time that he represented the island, he said.

Long said that even though he has lived his 55 years in Newport County, most people never knew about his substance abuse. "Part of the disease is the ability to hide things well," Long said. He said that his recovery is the "number one thing in my life," and that if he misses meetings, "I can feel myself slipping away again." It is something he will have to struggle with for the rest of his life. Substance abuse is an inherited condition, and there is a family history of the disease, Long said.

Through recovery, "I have become a better person," Long said, adding that by continuing the process, "I am getting to know myself better, and want to become the best person I can be."

His addiction issues have caused him to "engage in regrettable behaviors" for which he said he takes full responsibility, Long said. He admitted to having affairs while he was married to Valerie, but added that the affairs were during three different times in the couple's 17-year marriage when they were not living together. Long said that they were married in April 1986 and first separated in August of the same year. He did not go into details about a Valerie Long allegation of domestic abuse. "The police were called" during a particularly heated argument in July 1986, he said.

On the marriage, Long said it was "always turbulent." "The divorce was even worse," he added.

In his more than a quarter century in the Statehouse, Long said, "I have loved being a public servant." But he admits that there were many years when he threw himself into his career at the expense of his own needs. Being in recovery has taught him that he has to take care of himself in order to better serve the public, he said.

On Rep. Watson's suggestion that Long might want to step down from his seat in the House, Long said, "I work for the people of Middletown and Jamestown," and "it will be they who decide what I do." He added that since the television airing of Taricani's investigation, "I have received several calls from constituents offering support," Long said. "No one has asked me to step down," he added.

About his future, Long said that he "wants to put some normalcy back in his life," and that he will not resign his House seat.

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