Gov. Candidate Brown Runs as Progressive—Took Hundreds of Thousands from RI’s Wealthiest

Monday, April 23, 2018

 

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Matt Brown, looking to run for Governor

When Matt Brown announced that is looking to run for Governor of Rhode Island against Gina Raimondo and the crowded field in 2018, he wrote in an open letter, “Rhode Islanders are being hit hard by the brutal forces of economic inequality and wealth concentration.”

Brown has signaled that he is running to the left of Raimondo. He will try and ride the political wave sparked by Bernie Sanders in 2016.

A look at Brown’s record as a candidate and during his tenure as Rhode Island Secretary of State finds that few of Brown’s donors were small donor progressives — in large part, they were Rhode Island's most wealthy and most powerful.

SEE THE LIST BELOW OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL RHODE ISLANDERS WHO WERE BROWN DONORS

His donor list is littered with members of the most prominent Rhode Island families: Goddards, Sharpes, Gilbanes, and Chaces.

While Sanders was backed by only a handful of progressive elected officials in Rhode Island, like State Representative Aaron Regunberg, Sanders collected 55 percent of the vote. Most of the establishment including Raimondo backed Hillary Clinton in Rhode Island’s 2016 Presidential primary. Clinton garnered 43 percent of the vote.

Sanders fueled his run with small donors, claiming an average donation of $27 -- Sanders said it was proof that his campaign had populist support.

Brown’s average donation was $315 — more than ten times the Sanders' camp claimed for Presidential donations.

GoLocal reached out to Brown more than a half of dozen times via email, phone, Twitter and Facebook messager.

Brown’s campaign worker Ron Knox wrote in an email, “I'm happy to have Matt call you but the thing I was asking you for is the same thing I'm asking for now," wanting to know what the questions would be about. 

After GoLocal responded, there were no additional responses from the Brown campaign.

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Donations from RI's Wealthiest

Brown’s Campaign Owes Brown Over $170,000

Brown lent his campaign $345,700 while running and serving as Secretary of State and took about half of it back. His campaign account repaid Brown $174,000. The most recent campaign finance reports state that the campaign continues to hold an outstanding loan on $170,800 (GoLocal finds the correct number to be $171,700).

“This campaign won’t be easy. The entrenched powers will protect the status quo with everything they’ve got and they will spend a lot of money doing it,” also wrote Brown.

Brown’s Fundraising Base — Wealthiest and Most Influential

Brown was strongly supported by bankers, business leaders, and the notorious. More than a dozen top bankers were significant donors to Brown’s campaign for Secretary of State. Of GoLocal’s Rhode Island’s 50 Wealthiest and Most Influential list, Brown received campaign donations from 18.

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Brown received donations from Fox and others

Notorious Donors and No Returns

Joseph Caramadre, the infamous and jailed pension manager donated $3,000 and his wife Paula donated an additional $3,000 to Brown. As GoLocal reported in 2012, “Joseph A. Caramadre pled guilty to conspiring to steal and to use the identities of terminally-ill patients to obtain millions of dollars in illicit profits from insurance companies and bond issuers. He also admitted to making numerous misrepresentations to insurance companies, brokerage houses and dealers in furtherance of the scheme." Most elected officials who received donations from Caramadre made donations to non-profits.

Henry Kates, former President of Mutual Benefits insurance company -- one of the biggest financial sector collapses in American insurance history --  made six donations to Brown totaling $2,625. It was the 18th largest insurer in America when Kates was forced to resign and the company was taken over by regulators, according to the New York Times. Kates died a few years ago. 

Brown also collected thousands from top executives from the healthcare industry, including then-Lifespan President George Vecchione, who later raised eyebrows when he left the company with a golden parachute worth in excess of $8 million. Vecchione earned over $39 million in total compensation over 13 years. Vecchione was a Brown donor.

In addition, Brown received donations from former Roger Williams Medical Center President Bob Urciuoli. An FBI press release in 2009 reported, “A federal judge today sentenced Robert A. Urciuoli, the former president of Roger Williams Medical Center, to three years in federal prison for corruptly employing former Rhode Island Senator John Celona to advance the Medical Center’s interests in the General Assembly.”       

He and his then-wife, Donna Paolino, donated $2,500.

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Jeffrey and Craig Baker of Domestic Bank gave $1,000 and $2,500 respectively to Brown's campaign coffers. The Bakers operated Domestic.  As GoLocal reported, Rhode Island-based Domestic Bank was ordered to pay $1.8 million for engaging in unsafe and unsound banking and mortgage lending services.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Thrift Supervision, Domestic Bank’s mortgage arm falsely advertised mortgage rates and had “sham employees” on the books. A Domestic Bank executive did not deny the accusations, but he wouldn’t go into specifics about what happened. 

GoLocal reviewed all fifty campaign finance documents filed with the Board of Election’s campaign Finance Division and found just $2,340 in returns. None of the returns were tied to those who had been arrested, fined, jailed or tied to major business controversies.

Brown also received donations from Gordon Fox for $500, John Celona for $300, and Antonio Giordano. Both Fox and Celona were leaders in the RI General and served time in federal prison. Giordano was the infamous nursing home operator who pled guilty to embezzlement from three nursing homes he owned. Some of the incidents took place while his campaign finance report was dormant, but not all.  

 

Related Slideshow: Powerful Donors to Matt Brown - April 2018

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Gina Raimondo

Then Venture Capitalist of Village Ventures, Raimondo gave Brown three gifts totaling $600.

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Joe Paolino

Former Providence Mayor and mega-developer donated $2,100

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Meredith Curren

Raimondo staffer and former executive with Pease and Curren. The company is one of the oldest precious metal companies in America. She donated $1,600 to Brown in five donations.

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Jim Field 

Former GOP powerhouse. Served as in the Ford-Cheney White House. Field donated $2,000.

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Brad Dimeo

CEO of Dimeo Construction, five donations totaling $2,600.

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Sheldon and Sandra Whitehouse

The couple donated $3,250 to Brown.

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Thomas Goddard

A patriarch of one of Rhode Island’s oldest and most wealthy families. He made three donations to Brown totaling $1,250.

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Joseph Caramadre and wife

The infamous and jailed pension manager donated $3,000 and his wife Paula donated an additional $3,000. As GoLocal reported in 2012, “Joseph A. Caramadre pled guilty to conspiring to steal and to use the identities of terminally-ill patients to obtain millions of dollars in illicit profits from insurance companies and bond issuers. He also admitted to making numerous misrepresentations to insurance companies, brokerage houses and dealers in furtherance of the scheme.

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Fred Carpionato

Mega-developer and owner of numerous shopping centers in New England including Chapel View, donated $500 to Brown.

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Chace Family

Arguably one of Rhode Island’s wealthiest families — the Chace family — including the late-Kim Chace,  Liz Chace, downtown developers Buff Chace and three other members of the family combined $15,500.

The late Kim Chace was a regular on the Forbes 400 list and ranked with wealth of more than $1 billion.

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Jonathan Nelson

Founder of Providence Equity Group. Nelson ran a $50 billion fund and is ranked as RI's richest man by Forbes.

He is a Brown donor.

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Don Sweitzer

IGT executive is a close confidant to Governor Gina Raimondo. He and his wife were Brown donors.

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Paul Choquette and William Gilbane

Two top executives at one of New England's biggest companies both donated to Brown. 

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Richard Baccari

Baccari has had a tumultuous couple of years. The mega-developer has put together a massive collection of successful projects throughout the region, but not without great effort and some pain.

He donated $400 to Brown.

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Henry Kates

Former President of Mutual Benefits insurance company — one of the biggest financial sector collapses in RI history. It was the 18th largest insurer in America when Kates was forced to resign and the company was taken over by regulators, according to the New York Times. Kates died a few years ago. Kates donated six donations total $2,625.

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Stephen Cardi

Cardi Construction executive made two donations totaling $2,000 to Brown.

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Gordon Fox

The former Speaker of the House was released last year from federal prison. He served 25-months. He donated $500 to Brown.

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In total Matthew Brown received:

More than $740,000 from individual contributions

More than $34,000 from PACs

There are 2,450 individual gifts

 

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