NEW: Smiley hit with ethical fine

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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Brett Smiley.

Brett Smiley, former director of administration of Rhode Island and chief of staff to Governor Gina Raimondo, agreed to pay $ 4,500 as part of a settlement agreement with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission for donations of state entrepreneurs campaign.

This is the last ethical issue for Smiley or one of its companies in the past decade.

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Smiley, who is running for mayor of Providence in 2022, admitted in February 2021 that he improperly received nearly $ 9,000 from state contractors as director of Raimondo’s administration – and returned it .

“It is important that candidates for office, and all elected officials, meet the highest possible standards. This is precisely why I asked the Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion before raising a dime for my campaign, and why I immediately returned the six contributions I received from people under contract with the state. as soon as I learned that donors had business before the state, ”Smiley said in a statement Tuesday.

“I have never knowingly solicited contributions from suppliers, and as the Ethics Commission makes clear, I have never discussed state contracts with any donor,” he added. “I appreciate the thorough process conducted by the Ethics Commission and its help in resolving this matter so that I can focus on our campaign to improve the quality of life for residents of our city. “

RI GOP chairperson Sue Cienki told GoLocal after the ruling that the party – who lodged the complaint – was happy.

“We are delighted that they took this seriously enough and fined him,” Cienki said. “It’s a hefty fine for the ethics committee.”

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Immediately after the settlement was announced, Gonzalo Cuervo – who faces Smiley in the Democratic mayoral primary – shot his opponent.

“I applaud the RI State Ethics Commission for following up on this matter and call on Mr. Smiley to return all campaign contributions he received from all vendors and their associates.” doing business with the State of Rhode Island and lobbyists who lobbied the Department of Administration while he was the Director of State Administration – beyond those listed in the complaint, ” Cuervo said in a statement.

“The people of Providence cannot afford a return to payroll days to play at town hall,” he added. “This is unacceptable and it renders Mr. Smiley unfit to lead the city of Providence.”

Smiley fired back and called Cuervo’s claims “dishonest.”

“It’s a dishonest statement on his part that there are other gifts [that need to be returned]”Smiley said.” There has been a comprehensive investigation which [approximately] 800 donations [reviewed], 6 were fired who turned out to have had affairs of state.

“The ethics committee did an exemplary job. As soon as I heard about it, they were returned, ”added Smiley. “At no time were state contracts discussed; I didn’t know they were state vendors.

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A series of GoLocal surveys released in 2017 found that while Smiley held senior positions for the mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza, and then Raimondo, he simultaneously held a stake in a complex network of companies involved in political advice. . His companies represented a range of politicians who were to come before him in his official role in government.

He officially left his political consulting firm in 2020.

As GoLocal reported in 2014, when Smiley first ran for mayor of Providence:

Democratic candidate for Providence Mayor Brett Smiley, The CFO Consulting Group, was responsible for failing to report $ 1 million in spending during a congressional campaign – and pundits and opponents wonder if transgression will play a role, or not, during the 2014 election season.

Smiley’s campaign fundraisers had a $ 30,000 contract to compile and file reports for U.S. Representative Heath Shuler’s 2010 re-election campaign – but did not report $ 1 million in ad spend during of the final weeks of the campaign, according to AP reports in 2011.

“Forgetting to report $ 1 million in expenses is considered a major mistake. The FEC documents are not entirely clear on how the mistake was discovered. Smiley did not personally make the mistake. , but he’s ultimately responsible for it, ”said Jennifer Duffy. with the political report Cook.

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