INVESTIGATION: Complex Web of Private Political Consulting Business Runs Through Raimondo’s Office
Thursday, November 02, 2017
Smiley earns $176,419 as Raimondo's Chief of Staff.
Over the past five years, Rhode Island state and local candidates have paid a web of Smiley-owned companies just under $300,000. Federal candidates both in Rhode Island and around the country have paid Smiley’s firms hundreds of thousands in additional payments.
“Smiley's continued ownership of the firm raises the questions that have yet to be answered. In the past we've told GoLocal that Common Cause believes Smiley should seek an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission with respect to his continued ownership of the consulting firm,” said John Marion, head of Rhode Island Common Cause.
Smiley, Galvin, and Raimondo
If Smiley’s web of political consulting firms was not intertwined enough with Democratic elected officials and candidates, GoLocal has learned that the Vice President of Smiley’s CFO Compliance company, Ed Galvin, also has a related consulting business that is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by dozens of Democratic political campaigns — including the Raimondo campaign.
Campaign finance reports filed with the Board of Elections show that "Raimondo for Governor" paid Galvin & Associates in the third quarter of 2017 over $8,000.
“While he [Smiley] has recused from discussion of the governor's campaign finance proposals, the Providence Journal reported his involvement in the hiring of the new Executive Director of the Board of Elections, and they have oversight of campaign finance. The public deserves clarity about the impact of Mr. Smiley's continued ownership on his activities as the governor's Chief of Staff," said Marion.
To make the relationship between Smiley and Galvin event more complex, the Smiley-owned CFO Compliance and Galvin and Associates share the same office space on the 5th floor of One Park Row in Providence.
Mayor Don Grebien of Pawtucket, one of CFO Consulting’s clients tells GoLocal in an email, “I’ve gone back to verify what I shared earlier. The campaign has made only two payments, one in Dec. 2015, the other in March of 2016 with no activity in 2017 to CFO Consulting [which is] a reputable firm.”
“I’m not sure what Brett’s involvement is/was with CFO Consulting or the actual date he started working for the Governor. This date might be relevant and it would be helpful to know. I’ve always dealt with Meg at CFO and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I had any direct dealings with Brett. This was in regard to Memorial Hospital,” said Grebien.
GOP candidate for Governor Patricia Morgan told GoLocal, “Of course, this is a conflict of interest. Since the Governor’s Chief of Staff collects information and advises the Governor on policy decisions, he has influence that can either help or hurt a municipal executive. In this case, with taxpayer funding of the PawSox stadium on the table, there are too many gray areas that can come in to play. For instance, if the stadium is approved, the lease that controls the amount financial liability transferred from the ball team owners to the state’s taxpayers, will most certainly involve the Chief of Staff.”
GoLocal asked Smiley to clarify how he could continue to own businesses that do business with clients that meet with and do public business with the governor’s office and simultaneously have a business relationship with Smiley’s companies, but he did not respond.
David Ortiz, spokesperson for Raimondo, responded by email -- instead of Smiley -- with the following.
“Brett has been on an indefinite leave from CFO for almost four years. He receives no income and does no work for the business," said Ortiz.
It is unclear why a spokesperson and state employee on Raimondo's staff would respond to questions about Smiley’s private companies.
And, Smiley’s websites tell a different story and contradict Ortiz's claims. While Smiley was serving as the Governor’s chief-of-staff, he was listed as founder and partner of CFO-Consultant months after assuming the position in September of 2016.
“If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Brett Smiley owns and benefits from the consulting firm. The firm should not be providing work to decision-makers, and that includes Mayor Grebien. I’m sure there are other firms that can provide the services without the conflict of interest,” said Morgan.
Mutliple messages left for Galvin were not responded to.
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
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