Readers of this site are likely aware that Democrat Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza has been vocal in wanting to strip Democrat City Council President Luis Aponte of all “authority or power” in response to the latter’s recent indictment. Readers of this site also know that I’m encouraging caution as these indictments of politicians move from using campaign finance reports to find bribes and influence peddling to pursing charges based 100% on campaign finance violations. One wouldn’t know it to read the Aponte-related news and commentary around the state, but that is a significant step.
Today, Johanna Harris published the first in a series of posts using campaign finance data to profile some of Elorza’s biggest donors. Here’s the first profile, as a sample:
According to its website, Rosciti Construction Company has offices in Johnston RI, New York City, Hasbrouck Heights NJ, and Miami. Among its notable clients are Sprint, Amtrak, National Electric Grid, and AT&T. During the Elorza administration, Rosciti Construction has submitted bids to perform snow and ice removal services for the 2015–16 and 2016–17 winter seasons. According to Board of Elections records, on May 16, 2016, three Rhode Island-based employees of Rosciti Construction — Anthony Rosciti Sr. of Johnston, Anthony Rosciti Jr. of Johnston, and Henry Rosciti of North Scituate — each contributed $1,000 to Mayor Elorza’s campaign. On December 19, 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island reported that senior officers of Rosciti and its subcontractor Wallace Construction Corp. would together pay $1 million to settle civil allegations that they “improperly sought reimbursement of funding reserved for minority-owned and women-owned businesses.” Elorza did not respond to an inquiry by GoLocalProv on December 21 as to whether he would return campaign contributions from the three Rhode Island-based Rosciti employees. In the most recent calendar quarter, on February 28, 2017, Rosciti Director of Operations Judy Mueller of Hasbrouck Heights NJ donated another $1,000 to Elorza’s campaign. I can find no evidence that the campaign has returned any of these contributions.
The Aponte case has collected large numbers of statewide headlines without any stories (that I’ve seen) alleging anything other than using campaign funds in aggregate for his own personal purposes. That is, there’s been no allegation of bribery or anything like that. (Incidentally, of all the people listed in the above quotation, only Anthony Rosciti Jr. shows any donations to Aponte, totaling $200 in 2006.)
If only our local news media had the interest (and resources) to do, on a more in-depth scale, what Ms. Harris is doing of her own volition on Providence Rules. That would at least present campaign finance laws with their core purpose, as opposed to legal gotchas against people who’ve been in office too long and had insufficient reason to spend their campaign money campaigning.