Legislative Union Leaders “Show [Us] the Money!”
According to a story in Sunday’s ProJo by Katherine Gregg
Out of last year’s political scandals came a law that is shedding new light on the financial ties between some of the state’s part-time, $12,285-a-year lawmakers and major corporate and union players at the State House.
In the first batch of filings made last week, it was reported to the public . . . [s]everal high-ranking Democrats in the House and Senate are not only pro-labor boosters on Smith Hill but also full-time union employees.
Among them were the following:
Senate Whip Dominick J. Ruggerio – $163,717 in salary and benefits as the administrator of one arm of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. (Ruggerio estimated his salary alone was $122,000).
Deputy Senate majority leader John J. Tassoni Jr. of Smithfield – $79,060 in salary alone as business agent of Council 94 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employeesa deputy Senate majority leader.
Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III – $135,177 for various positions. As an elected officer of the Laborers’ union affiliate known as Local 808, Rhode Island Judicial, Professional & Technical Employees, Ciccone made $15,600 as the business manager for the local that represents about 17 bargaining units within state government, including RIPTA, E-911 and court employees, plus a number of Johnston school employees. He is also a field representative for the Rhode Island Laborers’ District Council headed by Ronald Coia. (Ciccone estimated he made ($80, 000 in salary alone).
Deputy House Whip Paul Moura – $91,663 as health and safety field specialist for the New England Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund. (Moura estimated he made $55,000 in salary alone).
According to Gregg:
The three are among the most prolific sponsors of legislation dealing in one way or another with labor issues, employee legal rights and, in Ciccone’s case, a bill to eliminate lifelong tenure for judges.
Further, Gregg’s story details the following illuminating conversation between Moura, Ciccone and Ruggerio:
“This is new. I don’t think they are aware of it,” Ciccone said in a brief exchange with Moura at the State House before the reports were filed.
“But I don’t have a problem telling people what I make,” Ciccone said.
Moura’s reply: “Maybe they should file out of an abundance of caution.”
Ciccone: “No big deal.”
Moura: “That’s fine with me, too. When they see how little I make, they’ll realize its no big deal anyway.”
Added Ruggerio a short time later: “I didn’t think we were obligated to file that, but we’re going to file anyway because obviously we have nothing to hide.”
While it is indeed encouraging to see that Ruggerio feels he has nothing to hide, the degree these gentlemen are insulated from the average taxpayer is evident in Moura’s statement regarding how little he makes. There really is nothing else to say.