More on the RI GOP’s 2006 Spending Priorities

In response to Mark Arsenault’s report on the money spent by the Rhode Island Republican party on consultants, commenter Sean Gately responds that Giovanni Cicione was paid from so-called “soft money” that could not, by law, have been given to state candidates. Campaign finance records confirm this fact, reporting that Mr. Cicione was paid nothing from the state central committee account.
However, because of the arcane structure of campaign finance laws, there is more to the soft money story that needs some discussion and maybe some explanation as we head into the GOP leadership election. Over the course of 2006, the substantial sum (by RI Republican state-level fundraising standards) of $40,471.65 was transferred from the state party committee to the federal party committee. That’s $40,471.65 that could have been made available to local candidates, but was directed elsewhere.
Most of that $40,471.65 was spent on what would be classified as “overhead”, i.e. salaries for party staff, office overhead, etc. On the surface, these were reasonable expenditures. For instance, the Federal account cut the RI GOP communications director (Chuck Newton) his paycheck, even though he had both federal-level and state-level responsibilities (all duly noted on the campaign finance reports). To allow Mr. Newton to work on state issues, by law, part of his salary must come from state funds. Even if the $40,471.65 had not been transferred from the state to the Federal party, a good chunk of it would have been paid out to party staff directly through the state party committee anyway.
However — and I want to be absolutely clear that I am not alleging corruption here; I am alleging poor spending choices which the incoming Republican party leadership must improve upon if it wants to start winning elections — in this same year that the Federal party committee sucked $40,471.65 out of the state party account, it also spent $17,602.90 on “catering” and “meals” over just four occasions and another $24,256.96 on Comfort Inn hotel rooms. Again, technically these were soft-money Federal expenditures, not available to state candidates, but if the Federal committee could afford to blow $41,859.86 on catering and hotel rooms, did it really need to take all of $40,471.65 away from local candidates who could have used additional funding for communicating directly with voters?
It seems that if the party had spent a little less lavishly on the Senate race (or found a few more deep-pocketed national donors to make-up the difference), the Rhode Island GOP could have approximately quadrupled the money it contributed to state-level candidates, and still had enough to pay a fair portion of the joint Federal/state overhead from state funds. The lack of support for local candidates was more than a simple matter of lack of funding, but a conscious decision that local races were not important.

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Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

The RIGOP existed only to serve Lincoln Chafee.
He and his father have been a cancer for the Republican Party in RI.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

Tom, what are you upset that you never a job or appointment from Chafee?
You wanted Sheldon Whitehouse to win and got what you wanted. Yet you’re still whining even though there’s not even a Chafee in office. I’d recommend therapy, but your comments are now just amusing, so keep posting!

Will
14 years ago

No, Tom actually has a real job that requires real skills. Fortunately, he is not a leech trying to exploit connections like so many involved with the RIGOP. Chafee may not be in office, but the kind of people that supported him still operate the party for their benefit.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

Will,
Do you believe what you said? I think the RI GOP was controlled by Almond’s people and then by Carcieri’s people. And neither Almond nor Carcieri are exactly going to be seen drinking a beer with Chafee.

Perry Ellis
Perry Ellis
14 years ago

Andrew,
“Again, technically these were soft-money Federal expenditures, not available to state candidates…”.
Nevertheless, before the Rule 11 vote last year, Carcieri and the State Party leadership made a disengenuous attempt to trick the party membership into believing that all of that money WAS available to state candidates.
I’ve been taken to task lately for my suggestions that the State GOP spending practices were corrupt. These practices may not fit everyone’s definition of corruption. A look in the dictionary will reveal that the word has broad meaning. I would not say that the State Party’s handling of funds is debased in character, depraved, perverted, wicked or evil. But, I would say the Party has been tainted; that the integrety of its leaders, and the integrety of those who benefited by their own connectedness, should be called into question.
I believe that people who are committed to the success of the party are those willing to volunteer their skills, their expertise, their time, and, if able, some money to that end. We have some people in the RI State Central Committee who do just that!
But we have others who are in it just for the power. That power, among other things gives them influence over how money is spent. As I have stated previously, whether it is the State account or the Federal account, the money was contributed by Republicans. How those contributions were disbursed was an abuse of power. No matter who becomes Chairman, that has got to change!
I’m feeling a little guilty as a Republican for having to read about these abuses in the newspaper. I will be keeping an eye on things now. Hopefully you will be too.

jdex
jdex
14 years ago

Will. Stop sticking up for Tom W. Let him argue his own points.
I will back up Anthony though as he is totally right. The sooner the state party becomes a real organization with strength and stops relying on the elected personalities to run it the beter of we will be. I have not seen any republican elected official who truly cares about building the party, they just want to control it with their cronies.

jdex
jdex
14 years ago

By the way Will, don’t think that Laffey would have been any different RIRA would have run the party at his behest.
That guy is an EGOMANIAC.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

First, thanks Will for coming to my defense.
Anthony, the topic at hand was the spending for the last election cycle, and so my reference to Chafee was and is topical.
I’ve never asked Chafee (or any other officeholder or party official) for anything – job, favor or whatever. In fact, while I’ve been involved with the Republican Assembly for 2-3 years now, I’ve never been formally involved with the RIGOP – I just attended my first town Republican meeting a few weeks ago (I’ve lived in RI since 1962).
Frankly, I never saw much point in being involved with the party, as since the 1960’s it’s been a Chafee fiefdom of spineless “moderates” and I knew that, being a Reagan (Real) Republican, I’d be unwelcome and marginalized.
Did it ever occur to you that the Chafee’s have always wanted a WEAK RIGOP so that their “standing” could never be threatened by real Republicans?
I’m cautiously optimistic that the weak prince of the Chafee clan has been defeated on the field of battle the RIGOP may finally be ready to start moving toward being a REPUBLICAN Party instead of a REDICULOUS Party.

jdex
jdex
14 years ago

AAAHHH! Now I get it! It is because of the vast not so right wing Chafee conspiracy that the Republican Party is weak in this state. It is now so clear. Here I was thinking it is because RI has been co-opted by the unions and the democrats give out patronage jobs to anyone that will take them making those people and their families life-long Democrat voters.
You call yourself a Reagan Republican but if you truly were then you would have gotten up the Chutzpah and gotten into the fight a long time ago instead of sitting on the sidelines and thinking about it like Jimmy Carter.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

It was only a few months ago that everyone criticized Chafee for not being involved with the RI GOP, now he’s accused of controling it for the past 20 years.
Perry, I challenge your statement about the leadership fo the RI GOP being in it solely for the power. If they were just in it for the power, they’d be a Democrats.
You can question whether the money the RI GOP was well spent. But you should at least know what the party got for its money before criticizing.
It’s the Governor’s job to lead the Party. Carcieri is the most conservative politician (Republican or Democrat) that has been elected to statewide office in the past 30 years yet for some reason some conservatives still have problems with him and his choices for the RI GOP. Why is that?
I need to point out one other disturbing trend towards negativism. Reagan was an optimist and challenged Americans to reach inside themselves to inspire them. I think other leading conservatives during the 80’s such as Jack Kemp fit that same mold.
Contrast that with the Ann Coulter type of conservatism you see around today. It’s negative and turns people off. In many ways, it’s similar to the negativism that liberals exhibited during the 70’s which helped bring about the Reagan Revolution. Just curious to know what people think.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>You call yourself a Reagan Republican but if you truly were then you would have gotten up the Chutzpah and gotten into the fight a long time ago instead of sitting on the sidelines and thinking about it like Jimmy Carter.
When I found out about the existence of the Republican Assembly I DID get involved with it.
As far as the RIGOP while under the sway of the Chafettes, well … I’m a Reagan Republican, not Don Quixote.

jdex
jdex
14 years ago

So the open exchange of ideas with people who have different viewpoints on similar goals doesn’t interest you? Only when you found a “safe” homogeneous group did you feel it was worth your time. That would be yet another example of why the party is so weak, because people like you just want to “sit around at Bickfords” (as Dan Yorke stated) and give each other pats on the back about how you have all the answers and treat other republicans as if they were the opposition instead of joining forces to defeat the Dems. with a (dirty word alert) COMPROMISE that a larger number of people could support.
Good Choice.

Will
14 years ago

Tom’s not only a RIRA member, but also our lawyer — and we’re most grateful to have him on our side (which is why I stick up for him). You should want him and people like him on yours, instead proverbially beating them away with sticks. You don’t say “Welcome to our party. By the way, you aren’t allowed to believe in anything.”
I don’t think I’ve ever criticized Chafee for NOT being involved with the RI GOP. I have and still do believe that in large part the party itself has been under the influence of the Chafee family, to the exclusion of pretty much everyone else. Linc Almond and Don Carcieri didn’t get elected because of it; they got elected in spite of it.
Until the party is liberated from that influence, which has just as much to do with a dying liberal/moderate old yankee ideology (and the exclusion or marginalization of conservatives), as it has to do with the influence that their money buys, nothing is going to change for our party — and that’s too bad. We will remain irrelavent.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>> So the open exchange of ideas with people who have different viewpoints on similar goals doesn’t interest you? Only when you found a “safe” homogeneous group did you feel it was worth your time. That would be yet another example of why the party is so weak … and give each other pats on the back about how you have all the answers and treat other republicans as if they were the opposition instead of joining forces to defeat the Dems. with a (dirty word alert) COMPROMISE that a larger number of people could support. The above could just as easily describe the leadership of the RIGOP. I support Don Carcieri, who I would consider a “moderate” rather than a conservative (e.g., while he’s tinkering at the margins, he hasn’t exactly called for reversing Rhode Island’s status as a welfare magnet). Same too with supporting John Robitaille down my way – he’s not my ideal conservative, but I was comfortably prepared to “compromise” because he’s at least simpatico. I hope for conservative perfection, but don’t expect or demand it. But there is compromise; then there is selling out your principles. I decline to do the latter. Lincoln Chafee – whose family has dominated, if not controlled, the RIGOP for over forty years – openly repudiates virtually any and every Republican position that one could cite. It’s always been about “HIM” and not principle – hence the “maverick” image he liked to spin in the media – “I stand for what I believe in {at the moment}.” He openly ruminated about switching to the Democrats. He still does. He openly solicited Democrats to disaffiliate to independent status and then crossover and hijack the Republican primary. AND THE RIGOP SUPPORTED HIM IN THIS! And Lincoln Chafee would do it again. >>… Read more »

InsideOut
InsideOut
14 years ago

i am constantly amazed by the opinions of all of those who have no clue as to who “controls” the party. they sit on the outside and make up theories that under minimal scrutiny dont hold up boys! i read and read and read and no one is even close. i think the reason you all talk about how these nefarious forces control the party is to make excuses for why you have not found a way to be more effective and to have an excuse for not getting involved and trying to win. i mean as long as you complain about “they dont let me play” you never have to take any responsibility for the results or lack thereof the party has at election time. as the church lady used to say “How conveeeeenient!” also, how democrat, and how liberal minded. setting yourself up as victims instead of rolling up your sleeves, getting in the game, taking some shots along the way and helping the team to win and be there when it loses. you guys are like the Pats fans who poor beer on Brady after a bad game. shut up, quit your whinning, and find a way to participate productively. you have a new chair and the party sitlls has an open attitude so lets see how active you get. lets see how much of a team player any of you guys are. geezus you bore me with the incessant whinning. make something happen. be a republican for god’s sake and put your money where your mouth is or for heaven’s sake, and the rest of ours, shut up. you are disturbing the ones who are being productive. also you may want to read what teddy r wrote about the ones who are in the game. and… Read more »

InsideOut
InsideOut
14 years ago

i am constantly amazed by the opinions of all of those who have no clue as to who “controls” the party. they sit on the outside and make up theories that under minimal scrutiny dont hold up boys! i read and read and read and no one is even close. i think the reason you all talk about how these nefarious forces control the party is to make excuses for why you have not found a way to be more effective and to have an excuse for not getting involved and trying to win. i mean as long as you complain about “they dont let me play” you never have to take any responsibility for the results or lack thereof the party has at election time. as the church lady used to say “How conveeeeenient!” also, how democrat, and how liberal minded. setting yourself up as victims instead of rolling up your sleeves, getting in the game, taking some shots along the way and helping the team to win and be there when it loses. you guys are like the Pats fans who poor beer on Brady after a bad game. shut up, quit your whinning, and find a way to participate productively. you have a new chair and the party sitlls has an open attitude so lets see how active you get. lets see how much of a team player any of you guys are. geezus you bore me with the incessant whinning. make something happen. be a republican for god’s sake and put your money where your mouth is or for heaven’s sake, and the rest of ours, shut up. you are disturbing the ones who are being productive. also you may want to read what teddy r wrote about the ones who are in the game. and… Read more »

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