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Smiley Inc - Gov’s Chief of Staff Mixes Government & Business - Sells House to Brown for $1.1M

Monday, July 31, 2017

 

Raimondo's Chief-of-Staff Brett Smiley

Brett Smiley, the failed 2014 candidate for Mayor of Providence, is today Governor Gina Raimondo’s Chief of Staff. He also owns a political consulting business that represents clients including Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, and he has hired his consulting firm’s former staffers to work in the Governor’s office. Smiley earns more than $170,000 per year in his role for Raimondo.

This month, Providence City records show that he and his husband Jim DeRentis sold their house to Brown University for $1.1 million — 30% more than the assessed value of the house at $843,600.

The City of Providence set the assessed value in 2016 while Smiley was the Chief Operating Officer of the City of Providence — the value was less than what the couple had paid for the house two years earlier. The couple bought the house in May of 2014 for $895,000, but when the City re-assessed the value of the house in 2016 at just $843,600. The lower assessment took place during a time period when housing prices on the College Hill in Providence increased by nearly 20 percent.

37 George Street - Sold by Smiley and his husband to Brown University for $1.1 million

Brown University, Smiley and State Contracts

When GoLocal first reported that Smiley was going to sell the property to Brown, the University refused to answer if they thought there was an appearance of a potential conflict, but did acknowledge that the Ivy League school was planning to purchase Smiley and his husband’s home.

"We are under contract to purchase 37 George Street, a single-family home immediately adjacent to the heart of the Brown campus and an ideal fit for our Brown to Brown Home Ownership Program, which encourages faculty and staff home ownership in College Hill," said Brian Clark, Director of News and Editorial Development for Brown in February. "We’re purchasing the property at fair market value and look forward to successfully adding it to the list of more than 15 Brown to Brown properties, many of which have been renovated, sold and added to the city’s tax rolls."

Brown, in 2016 while negotiating with Smiley and his husband to purchase the home, was also negotiating with the State of Rhode Island regarding it leasing space in the state-supported Wexford building on 195 land.

In total, Rhode Island has provided approximately $40 million in total subsidies to the Wexford project. To date, Brown and Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) are the only two tenants that have committed to the Wexford Building. It is believed that Brown is paying below market rent for the Wexford property according to sources close to the deal, but Brown, Wexford, and Commerce have all refused to disclose the rent being paid by Brown or provide the lease agreement after repeated requests by GoLocal. The three entities (Commerce, Brown, and Wexford) claim that the lease is a private business agreement between Brown and Wexford despite the approximately $40 million in state subsidies.

Smiley and Raimondo

Smiley’s Consulting Business and His Role in the Governor’s Office

Smiley’s firm CFO Consulting Group, LLC has been paid more than $100,000 by the Elorza campaign -- the most recent payment according to State campaign finance report was reported in March of 2017.

More recently, Joshua Butera, a former fundraiser consultant for Smiley’s firm, has now joined the Raimondo staff starting in March of 2017. 

GoLocal learned that while Smiley is negotiating with the City of Providence on behalf of Raimondo, his company was also getting paid by Elorza’s campaign.

Smiley’s firm  (he also started compliance and lobbying firms)  has collected the majority of the $100,000 from Elorza’s campaign during the time that Smiley has served as Raimondo’s top staffer and a period in which the Elorza administration has negotiated with state officials on everything from school aid, auto tax cuts, a potential tax on non-profits including Brown University, and the sale of the Providence Water Supply Board.

 

Related Slideshow: 2016 Raimondo’s Staff Salaries

Prev Next

Curren, Meredith

Director of Appointments

$5,000

Prev Next

Rolfe, Catherine

Communications Associate

$36,471

Prev Next

Pellegrino, Angelika

Communications Associate

$36,471

Prev Next

Hytinen, Neil

Legislative Aide

$40,895

Prev Next

Abell, Octavia

Special Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff

$44,271

Prev Next

Gutierrez, Julia

Protocol Manager

$44,271

Prev Next

Casttriotta, Rebecca

Executive Administrative Asssitant

$47,228

Prev Next

Gering, Catherine

Appointment Special Assitant

$48,715

Prev Next

Natareno, Jason

Special Assistant to the Governor

$48,973

Prev Next

Allard, David

Outreach Manager

$52,272

Prev Next

Manning, Helen

Special Assistant to the Governor

$53,003

Prev Next

Harris, Kelly

Director of Scheduling

$56,694

Prev Next

Inman, Bradford

Director of Constituent Services

$56,694

Prev Next

Poddar, Keshav

Policy Analyst

$56,982

Prev Next

Abelow, Hannah

Policy Analyst

$56,982

Prev Next

Greene, Judith

Legal Administrative Assistant

$59,036

Prev Next

Fondreur, Jennifer

Office Manager

$63,793

Prev Next

Vota, Americo

Community Affairs & Outreach Advisor

$61,751

Prev Next

Desiderato, Ronald

Special Assistant to the Governor

$64,940

Prev Next

Wison, Dana

Executive Assistant to the Governor

$67,508

Prev Next

Nevins, Arthur

Education Policy Advisor

$69,144

Prev Next

Amol Gabriel

Director of Public Engagement

$82,572

Prev Next

Aberger, Marie

Press Secretary

$88,798

Prev Next

Hudson, Heather

Policy Advisor

$93,575

Prev Next

Iannazzi, Andrea

Special Counsel

$98,340

Prev Next

Raia, Mchael

Director of Communications

$122,186

Prev Next

Cheng, Eileen

Deputy Counsel

$122,186

Prev Next

Moses, Amy

Deputy Counsel

$126,951

Prev Next

Bucci, Matthew

Director of Governor's Office

$146,026

Prev Next

Vura-Weis, Lisa

Deputy Chief of Staff

$146,026

Prev Next

Gallagher, Kevin

Deputy Chief of Staff

$146,026

Prev Next

Richards, Claire

Executive Counsel

$155,385

Prev Next

Beane, Eric

Deputy Chief of Staff

$155,564

Prev Next

Smiley, Brett

Chief of Staff

$170,460

Prev Next

Cruise, R.David

Legislative Director

$178,899

 
 

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