Elorza Refuses to Disclose Terms of Leave from Roger Williams University

Sunday, October 26, 2014


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Jorge Elorza

Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza has refused to disclose the terms of his leave from Roger Williams University, where he has been a Professor of Law since 2005.   

When asked when he left his post for the campaign, and if he has been receiving paid leave compensation and benefits, the Elorza campaign did not answer, and furnished the following response. 

"Jorge values his relationship with Roger Williams University and the students he has taught over the years as a tenured professor. The financial terms of his leave of absence are in accordance with the university's policy, and will be fully disclosed on Jorge's annual state ethics filing," said David Ortiz, Elorza campaign spokesperson. "What's unclear are the financial terms of Mr. Cianci's leave from his employer Cumulus Media, as well as the incalculable value he receives from continuing to have his show air on WPRO while he runs for the mayor's office."

Elorza was asked at press conference this week again about the nature of his leave from Roger Williams University, and again refused to answer whether or not he was on paid leave.  

Cianci Discloses Cumulus Compensation

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Buddy Cianci

Former Mayor and Mayoral opponent Vincent "Buddy" Cianci broached the terms of his leave from Cumulus Media, where he had been a radio host with the WPRO prior to leaving when he announced his 2014 run.  

Cianci affirmed that he is on unpaid leave from Cumulus -- and has since been paid residual for endorsement ads running since he left in June, and that it totals less than $10,000 to date.  

"[Elorza's] not exactly revealing the things you should be revealing as a candidate," said Cianci of Elorza's refusal to answer the Roger Williams question.  "It's either one or the other, he's either on paid leave, or he's not. He's saying he's being honest with the voters, but how honest is he being here?  If I were a student at Roger Williams, I'd be wondering of my tuition money is going to who is supposed to be my teacher, but who's off instead running for Mayor of Providence."

In his position as housing court judge, Elorza had to submit annual filings with the state Ethics Commission since 2010.

See 2010 Filing Here

See 2011 Filing Here

See 2012 Filing Here

See 2013 Filing Here

Of note in the filings, Elorza lists holdings with ProVerasys in Virginia, and debt from student loans, as well as a BMW loan.  

"I'm not aware that there are any restrictions on a non-profit allowing an employee take leave while running for office," said John Marion, Executive Director of Common Cause Rhode Island.  "There is certainly nothing in election law or the Code of Ethics that I'm aware of (other than the required disclosure). It might cause issues if he continued in the relationship while in office, but he has not indicated that would happen."

Roger Williams University's main campus is in Bristol, but has land holdings in Providence for its satellite campus as well.  


Related Slideshow: Questions Jorge Elorza Must Answer to be Providence’s Next Mayor

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Experience Necessary?

Elorza's the quintessential Providence kid-made-good -- and clearly has the education success story of CCRI to Harvard Law going for him.  He's toiled in the legal trenches, and risen through academic ranks. 

But does that translate to a business acumen and know-how to turn the city around?  Brett Smiley counts starting a successful consulting company.  Although a double-edged sword, Michael Solomon's got the city council experience. 

Elorza's managed cases, and students.  Can he oversee a staff of hundreds -- go toe to toe with the unions?

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Money for Plans?

Opponent Brett Smiley might have dubbed himself the man with the plan, but Elorza's right up there with a litany of proposals for the capital city.  Schools, jobs, public safety, neighborhoods, transportation, diversity, arts and culture, ethics -- Elorza's got plans for it all.

And like Smiley's grand amibtions, the burning question is how will these be funded?  Elorza has a plan to double the city's exports in the next five years, with mentoring opportunities and trade missions as part of the strategy.  Those cost money.   Where will it come from?

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Fundraising prowess?

At the end of the first quarter of 2014, Elorza posted a small lead over Smiley in the cash balance department, with $217,082 in his campaign coffers as compared to Smiley's $191,000 and change.  Both, however, were a distant second and third to Solomon's war chest over over $600,000

As the Democratic candidates duke it out, second quarter filings due at the end of the month will show were the money race stands with less than eight weeks to the primary. 

Of course, whoever wins will have to face a Buddy Cianci waiting in the wings, who told GoLocal he raised over $200,000K in one week -- and expects to have $1 million by the time the primary arrives. 

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Primary Factor?

For the Democrats in the race, the primary is, in fact, the primary concern of the campaigns at the moment, with Harrop and Cianci waiting in the wings for the winner. 

Will Elorza's campaign, based strongly on his Cranston-street upbringing and focus on ethics, differentiate him from political operatives Smiley and Solomon? 

The first test on the path to the Mayor's office will be to best his two top adversaries in September.  Will Elorza's deep city ties and campaign aparatus translate into a get-out-the-vote effort enough to take the Democratic title?

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Final Hurdle?

All of the Providence Mayoral candidates, whether they like it or not, have to address to Buddy card. 

So far, Brett Smiley's been the most vocal -- publicly, at least -- in criticizing former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, attacking him on his corruption charges and conviction.  Harrop and Elorza have been highly critical, but as aforementioned, the Democrats are focused primarily on the task at hand -- making it past the primary.

If Elorza does advance, can he count on the support of his former Democratic opponents and their backers -- or will there be a mass exodus of those who see Cianci as the more viable candidate?  Republican Dr. Daniel Harrop provides an X factor in the genera election, of course, but a three-way race is vastly different animal than a four-way one before Adrain dropped out.  The winner will need to secure a greater chunk of the electorate. 


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