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Corrente, Whitehouse, and Almond Oppose Cianci’s Re-Election

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

 

Former US Attorney Robert Clark Corrente and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

At a press conference former US Attorneys for Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, former Governor Lincoln Almond, and Robert Clark Corrente joined together to voice opposition to Vincent "Buddy" Cianci's re-election. Absent from the press conference was Margaret Curran, the U.S. Attorney who had prosecuted Cianci. Curran is presently a member of the RI Parole Board.

"The voters of the City of Providence are the ones who will decide whether the conduct that gave rise to Mr. Cianci's criminal convictions render him unfit to hold this important office again," said Robert Corrente at the press conference.

The press conference was called to "review details of the federal corruption charges that resulted in the Operation Plunder Dome convictions" filed against Cianci in the past. 

"Many voters were not in Providence or not of voting age when these events took place," said Corrente. "That's why Senator Whitehouse and former Governor Almond and I as former federal prosecutors have decided to speak up."  

Whitehouse claimed that investigations began "on [his] watch" and that the investigation that took place under Operation Plunder Dome raised serious concerns about his character. The evidence that was present in the case excluded general "bad acts," as Senator Whitehouse put it, and the general magnitude of his crimes, including racketeering and the selling of municipal favors, is what warranted a five-year sentence in federal prison and FBI interference.  

Almond, who joined from his home in Kingstown via telephone, said that Cianci,"owes an extreme apology to the people of Providence." Almond concluded that his administration was responsible for the "real" financial problems the city has and will negatively impact the educational system. 

Collectively, the ex-federal US Attorneys were concerned about the "plausible enough" prospect of Cianci's re-election, and the ramifications that would ensue at both the taxpayer's and service union's expense. Ultimately, the three said they do not want to see a Providence that is run as a "pay-for-play" landscape of criminal activity, yet they are confident that voters will keep him out of City Hall for good. Cianci (I) faces Democrat Jorge Elorza and Republican Daniel Harrop.

 

Related Slideshow: Questions Buddy Cianci Must Answer to be Providence’s Next Mayor

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Staff recruitment?

When GoLocal first started looking into the possibility of Buddy entering the race, we asked of his former staff, "Where are they now?"  

Buddy's been out of office for 12 years.  Anyone of voting age then is now over 30.  And anyone who was a Buddy disciple had to move on, forge a new career path, or retire.   Much like the voting block -- who is Buddy's new base of support from a staff perspective?  Can he snag young social media savvy professionals -- what do they know of Buddy's legacy?  Can he lure folks away from secure positions for a high degree of uncertainty? 

Buddy's got the headquarters, and is undoubtedly putting a team in place, but seems to be keeping a low-profile as the primary campaigns heat up.  Watch to see if he can pull any defectors from the losing Democratic campaigns who see Buddy as the more viable way into City Hall than their former opponent who just beat them.

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Age and Illness?

It's no secret that Cianci is 73, and has been battling cancer.  Listen to him on the radio, you might think you're hearing man twenty years younger.  See him in person, however, and you see a man who has been through...a lot.  Noticeably slimmer and more subdued, Cianci cuts a contrasting figure to his younger days.

Don't count out the razor-sharp Cianci to use this to his advantage -- that this is the kinder, gentler, grandfatherly Buddy who plans on swooping back in to show the younger generation how to be Mayor, with his experience. 

The question will be if he truly has the health and stamina for the grueling sprint to the finish between the primaries and Election Day in November -- and whether hi opponents will bring that up in private circles, or outright in public. 

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Laugh Test?

The felonies.  The toupee.  The fireplace log, lit cigarette, and ashtray.  They're all products of Buddy's past, and more often than not, a punchline of a joke. 

No doubt Buddy's got the ability to laugh at himself -- and quickly dismiss critics pointing to his criminal record -- but do Providence voters want the glad-handing Mayor with his larger-than-life baggage as Providence looks to emerge from the the recent recession and precarious financial standing?  

Voters have seen the self-depricating side of Brett Smiley in his man-with-a-plan ad, but don't expect Buddy to play up his follies to the same extent.  He'll cut to the chase and speak to his track record and what he did while in office -- and what he plans to do if elected again.  So who will be laughing come November?  Stay tuned.

Graphic: nobuddypvd.com

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Providence as U.S. Joke?

As far as self-image goes, the Economist's recent Buddy piece, "Freshening the Armpit of New England," didn't do much for the national perception of Providence.  "Can America's Ex-Con Mayor Win Again?" quipped the Daily Beast.  And how can one forget the Business Insider dubbing Cianci the "Poster Boy of Political Scandals."

While Rhode Island as a whole tries to shake the constant bottom-of-the-U.S. rankings for business and the economy, Providence has worked hard to shed the underachieving image, and was most recently awarded citation from the National Conference of Mayors for being an exemplary mid-sized city.  Buddy is running on the platform that he turned Providence around before, and he can to it again.  The questions is, will voters give him the chance?

Graphic: nobuddypvd.com

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Can he win?

Perhaps the biggest question now is whether Buddy can win.  When he entered the race as an Independent -- and former Democrat Lorne Adrain made the switch to join him in the unaffiliated ranks -- the prospect of a four-way finale seemed to be in Buddy's favor, having to capture a seemingly do-able share of the vote.

Now with Adrain out, and whispers that Republican Dan Harrop might not stay in the race until election day, the prospect of a three-way battle and possibly a two-one -- could be keeping the former Mayor up at night...or he could be too busy raising money to meet the winner of the Democratic primary an his general elections challengers starting September 10.  Either way, Buddy's chances of getting back in the race have slimmed, but he can never be counted out.

 
 

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