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NEW: State GOP Rips Providence Councilman for Political “Shakedown”

Monday, February 13, 2012


The state GOP is criticizing a Providence City Councilman for writing a letter to two constituents that expressed disappointment that he did not receive a campaign contribution after the city fixed their sidewalk.

The Providence Journal reported Sunday that East Side Councilman Sam Zurier sent the letter to Dee Dee and Gary Whitman late last year. Zurier confirmed that he did send the letter and has issued an apology.

“I didn’t think I could be shocked by so patently selfish a political move as this because I didn’t think that even in The Ocean State any elected official would stoop so low.” State GOP chairman Mark Zaccaria said. “Councilman Zurier seems to want to cash in on the delivery of routine city services, even when he had little to do with their delivery, if we are to believe Mrs. Whitman.”

Tara Pinsky, chairwoman of the Providence Republican City Committee said she was disappointed in Zurier.

“I am deeply saddened to read the lengthy story in the ProJo about his attempts to shake down a couple, the husband being a quadriplegic for an allegedly oral campaign pledge that Zurier never received," Pinsky said in a statement. "I am surprised that Councilman Zurier had to stoop to the typical RI politician behavior of personally collecting campaign money for public services rendered. For Councilman Zurier, there was apparently no shame in his quid pro quo about helping to fix a disabled person’s sidewalk, but also expecting a campaign pledge in return – and then castigating his constituents when money was not paid. I, and other constituents, again have once again had our trust in an elected public servant tainted by the business as usual in Rhode Island government. The sidewalk for a quadriplegic Providence resident should have absolutely been fixed with no strings attached (and fixed long ago by then-Mayor Cicilline); subsequently, Councilman Zurier had no right and no place to try to collect his ‘reward’ in the form of a campaign contribution.”


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