Current Cicilline Aides Named in Gemma’s Accusations
Friday, August 24, 2012
Two of incumbent Congressman David Cicilline’s current staff members are named in sworn statements by individuals accusing Cicilline of being connected to an extensive voter fraud scheme dating back to his 2002 campaign for Mayor of Providence, according to documents released by the Anthony Gemma campaign Thursday.
Andujar earned $44,750 in 2011 and Bizzacco was paid $69,611.07, according to Legistorm.com.
The accusations against the two aides are part of a slew of claims released by the Gemma campaign, which hired TRP Associates, a private firm run by former State Troopers to investigate voter fraud related to Congressman Cicilline. Gemma, who has retained former Attorney General James O’Neil as his lawyer, claims the firm uncovered a significant amount of additional information that it has given to the State Police and federal authorities, but he has yet to make any of the information public.
Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers has called Gemma’s accusations an “outrageous political stunt” and said Thursday that Cicilline has not been contacted by authorities in regards to voter fraud. He said the campaign does not plan to comment on every rumor leveled against Cicilline by Gemma.
"We're not going to comment every time Anthony Gemma makes another bizarre allegation,” Hyers said. “Anyone who claims he has seen people holed up in their attics with weapons clearly can't be trusted."
Cicilline Staff Members Named
Hyers was referring to a comment Gemma made during his Wednesday afternoon press conference, where he suggested that certain city residents are in fear about their names being made public in regards to alleged voter fraud. Gemma repeated that claim Thursday during a morning radio interview on WPRO.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare told GoLocalProv that, “we have no concerns that people are hiding in their attics with weapons."
During his press conference, Gemma read portions of five sworn statements from residents saying they participated in or were a victim of voter fraud. In some cases, the statements are not directly tied to the Congressman, but the claims that include Andujar and Bizzacco suggest the two were working on behalf of Cicilline.
According to one of the statements, a person who identified themselves as a “volunteer for David Cicilline’s Mayoral campaign” in 2002, claims they witnessed Cicilline campaign staffers identify unlikely voters and assign those names to impersonators who were paid to vote in their place.
“I personally overheard conversations between Andy and other campaign staffers, as well as the runners to carry out the above referenced voter fraud,” the statement reads. “I also personally overheard Andy makes calls to order more cash, which would then be distributed to runners when they ran out of money.”
In another statement, the wife of former Ward 8 Council candidate Eulogio Acevedo alleges that in 2006, she was told by Bizzacco that she had to resign from her position in the Providence Tax Assessor’s office because of her husband’s candidacy. In a separate sworn statement, Mr. Acevedo, who finished third in a Democratic primary that year, claimed that Cicilline supported eventual winner Leon Tejada.
During his Wednesday press conference, Gemma claimed his hired investigators found evidence that individuals were paid to vote multiple times, paid to impersonate actual voters, registered to vote at business addresses, abandoned buildings and vacant lots and driven in from out-of-state to vote at multiple polling places. Gemma also referenced Andujar and Bizzacco, but did not specifically mention their names at the time.
“In virtually each and every instance of voter fraud document by TRP, we find David Cicilline’s closest political operatives and allies – two of who are on his Congressional staff this very day, being by you and me with our taxpayer dollars – as they orchestrate and facilitate voter fraud-related criminal acts,” Gemma said.
Gemma Says He Produced “Smoking Gun” Evidence
Still, others remain unconvinced.
Dr. Daniel Harrop, a Republican who took on Cicillne in the 2006 Mayor’s race, said he sees no basis for the accusations leveled against Cicilline. He said there was never any reason to commit voter fraud in 2006 because the race was never in doubt.
“It’s ridiculous. I strongly support Brendan Doherty for Congress this year, and hope to retire the Congressman in November, but I see no basis for these accusations,” Harrop said Wednesday. “Even in my internal polling, I never got above 20 percent of the possible vote, and finished with about 18 percent on election day.”
A day after Gemma’s press conference Katrina Therien, chairwoman of the Rhode Island Association of City and Town Democratic Chairs, accused the candidate of attempting “smear and defeat” the Congressman.
"Anthony Gemma's allegations are outrageous, reckless, and irresponsible,” she said. “He failed spectacularly in his desperate press conference gimmick to produce any evidence whatsoever that David Cicilline has committed criminal actions.”
Gemma maintains he has produced “smoking gun” evidence that connects Cicilline to voter fraud.
“The common denominator in all of this criminality is the specter of David Cicilline,” he said.
Gemma and Cicilline are scheduled to participate in their first debate Tuesday evening at Rhode Island College.