Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in RI Politics?

Friday, October 03, 2014


Every Friday, Russ Moore breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Rhode Island politics. Check out who made the lists this week.

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Allan Fung, GOP candidate for Governor


Allan Fung: The Republican Gubernatorial candidate had a good week on the campaign trail, the highlight of which was airing an ad that ties Raimondo to Chafee and questions why she retained the state's Financial Advisor, First Southwest, as General Treasurer. Fung has already proved to his doubters that he's not to be underestimated and to do so again would be foolish. Make no mistake: the popular Cranston mayor could win this race.

Dan McKee: High-level Democratic sources say that a McKee commissioned poll has the Cumberland mayor and Democratic Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate polling at roughly 57 percent. This, despite the fact that teachers' unions loathe McKee for this education reform effort, is a tremendous sign for his campaign.

Lupus Foundation of New England: The organization dedicated to finding a cure for the horrific disease will host its sixth annual Runway for a Cure event on Tuesday, October 21, at the Providence Biltmore Hotel from 6:30 to 10:00 PM. The group will raffle off items such as Celtics tickets, helicopter rides around Newport, and gift certificates to our state's best hotels and restaurants. 

Leah Williams Metts: Metts, who helped lead the fight to reopen the Davey Lopes Pool in 2013, was recently named to the board of the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority. Additionally, Metts was honored by the YWCA for being a "woman of achievement" in 2014. Metts is also a campaign chairwoman for the Buddy Cianci campaign and is considered a rising star in Rhode Island politics.

3: The number of schools in which were named Blue Ribbon Schools by the US Department of Education, the highest honor awarded by the department. The schools were Barrington Middle School, Fort Barton Elementary School in Tiverton, and Stephen Olney Elementary School in North Providence.

Providence Waterfront: It was nice to see the Providence mayoral candidates debate how the city should develop the waterfront on Allens Avenue during their Tuesday night debate this week. It seems like the candidates agree that it's an underused resource with better uses than gentlemen's clubs and scrap yards.


Lincoln Almond: Rhode Island's great obstructionist is in the news yet again, this time for bad-mouthing Buddy Cianci to a Boston reporter. What Almond didn't say was that, unlike himself, Cianci actually got things accomplished, like opening the Providence Place mall despite Almond's opposition. And let's not forget, if it weren't for Almond's shortsightedness, Rhode Island would be the home of the New England Patriots.

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Michael Corrente broke through with the movie "Federal Hill"

Michael Corrente: The filmmaker who made some awesome movies in the '90s including "Federal Hill," is so not hot. Corrente, who is a leader of the so-called "Anybody But Cianci" movement, is being sued for allegedly welching on a $2 million dollar loan he received roughly 10 years ago.

Boston Sports Teams: It hurts to admit it, but man Boston Sports teams are struggling right now. The Red Sox went from first to worst, the Boston Celtics are again going to the lottery, the Boston Bruins lost and failed to add pieces in the offseason, and it pains me to say it, but the Patriots are in a funk like we haven't seen since Pete Carroll was in charge in the '90s.

William Conley: Only in Rhode Island would the Chief Legal Counsel to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission accept a no-bid contract to perform legal work on behalf of the Attorney General's Office. Then throw in the fact that he's a sitting state senator and you've got a major conflict of interest.

Ebola and Enterovirus: News broke this week that a child in the Cumberland School District tragically died of Enterovirus last week. Further, the dangerous Ebola virus has also reared its ugly head in America, as a patient in Dallas tested positive. The national and local health agencies need to prevent outbreaks of these diseases.

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The Providence Journal Editorial Board: Look, the Providence Journal Editorial Board can't stand Buddy Cianci. OK, we get it. But, do they really have to run several editorials ranting, raving, and rehashing the Plunder Dome Trial every week? There is other stuff going on, believe it or not.


Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s History of Political Corruption

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Buddy Cianci

Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci resigned as Providence Mayor in 1984 after pleading nolo contendere to charges of assaulting a Bristol man with a lit cigarette, ashtray, and fireplace log. Cianci believed the man to be involved in an affair with his wife. 

Cianci did not serve time in prison, but received a 5-year suspended sentence. He was replaced by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. in a special election. 

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Joseph Bevilacqua

Joseph Bevilacqua was RI Speaker of the House from 1969 to 1975, and was appointed as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court in 1976.  It was alleged that Bevilacqua had connections to organized crime throughout his political career.  

According to a 1989 article that appeared in The New York Times at the time of his death:

The series of events that finally brought Mr. Bevilacqua down began at the end of 1984... stating that reporters and state police officers had observed Mr. Bevilacqua repeatedly visiting the homes of underworld figures.

The state police alleged that Mr. Bevilacqua had also visited a Smithfield motel, owned by men linked to gambling and drugs...

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Thomas Fay

Thomas Fay, the successor to Bevilacqua as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, resigned in 1993, and was later found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of directing arbitration work to a partner in his real estate firm, Lincoln Center Properties.  

Fay was also alleged to use court employees, offices, and other resources for the purposes of the real estate firm.  Fay, along with court administrator and former Speaker of the House, Matthew "Mattie" Smith were alleged to have used court secretaries to conduct business for Lincoln, for which Fay and Smith were business partners. 

Fay was fined $3,000 and placed on one year probation. He could have been sentenced for up to three years in prison. 

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Brian J. Sarault

Former Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault was sentenced in 1992 to more than 5 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering.  

Sarault was arrested by state police and FBI agents at Pawtucket City Hall in 1991, who alleged that the mayor had attempted to extort $3,000 from former RI State Rep. Robert Weygand as a kickback from awarding city contracts.

Weygand, after alerting federal authorities to the extortion attempt, wore a concealed recording device to a meeting where he delivered $1,750 to Sarault.

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Edward DiPrete

Edward DiPrete became the first Rhode Island Governor to be serve time in prison after pleading guilty in 1998 to multiple charges of corruption.

He admitted to accepting bribes and extorting money from contractors, and accepted a plea bargain which included a one-year prison sentence.

DiPrete served as Governor from 1985-1991, losing his 1990 re-election campaign to Bruce Sundlun.

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Plunder Dome

Cianci was forced to resign from the Mayor’s office a second time in 2002 after being convicted on one several charges levied against him in the scandal popularly known as “Operation Plunder Dome.” 

The one guilty charge—racketeering conspiracy--led to a five-year sentence in federal prison. Cianci was acquitted on all other charges, which included bribery, extortion, and mail fraud.

While it was alleged that City Hall had been soliciting bribes since Cianci’s 1991 return to office, much of the case revolved around a video showing a Cianci aide, Frank Corrente, accepting a $1,000 bribe from businessman Antonio Freitas. Freitas had also recorded more than 100 conversations with city officials.

Operation Plunder Dome began in 1998, and became public when the FBI executed a search warrant of City Hall in April 1999. 

Cianci Aide Frank Corrente, Tax Board Chairman Joseph Pannone, Tax Board Vice Chairman David C. Ead, Deputy tax assessor Rosemary Glancy were among the nine individuals convicted in the scandal. 

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N. Providence Councilmen

Three North Providence City Councilmen were convicted in 2011 on charges relating to a scheme to extort bribes in exchange for favorable council votes. In all, the councilmen sought more than $100,000 in bribes.

Councilmen Raimond A. Zambarano, Joseph Burchfield, and Raymond L. Douglas III were sentenced to prison terms of 71 months, 64 months, and 78 months, respectively. 

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Charles Moreau

Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau resigned in 2012 before pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. 

Moreau admitted that he had give contractor Michael Bouthillette a no-bid contract to board up vacant homes in exchange for having a boiler installed in his home. 

He was freed from prison in February 2014, less than one year into a 24 month prison term, after his original sentence was vacated in exchange for a guilty plea on a bribery charge.  He was credited with tim served, placed on three years probation, and given 300 hours of community service.

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Joe Almeida

State Representative Joseph S. Almeida was arrested and charged on February 10, 2015 for allegedly misappropriating $6,122.03 in campaign contributions for his personal use. Following his arrest, he resigned his position as House Democratic Whip, but remains a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

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Gordon Fox

The Rhode Island State Police and FBI raided and sealed off the State House office of Speaker of the House Gordon Fox on March 21--marking the first time an office in the building has ever been raided. 

Fox pled guilty to 3 criminal counts on March 3, 2015 - accepting a bribe, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. The plea deal reached with the US Attorney's office calls for 3 years in federal prison, but Fox will be officially sentenced on June 11.


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