The article focuses on 2014 food and beverage spending by 'Speakah' Mattiello, and some pretty significant expenditures are outlined, including:
Two fundraisers at the Providence Marriott totaling $18,842
One fundraiser at Tommy's pizza in Cranston for $2,770
Eighteen 'Rep meetings' at the Capital Grille totaling $7,911 and,
Nine more 'Rep meetings' at Capriccio totaling $8,231
It is tradition that the speaker thanks the members of each committee for their hard work and long hours by taking them out for appreciation dinners — not at the taxpayer expense.
Unsurprisingly, the devil is in the details. While the ProJo reports these expenditures in toto, when you dive into Mattiello's quarter-by-quarter spending by date, the numbers get even uglier. I've chosen a few of his food and beverage expenditures to illustrate my point.
On December 12, 2014, Mattiello's campaign reports an expenditure of $75 at Capriccio in Providence for one of these 'Rep meetings.' For those of you who haven't been to Capriccio, I can tell you that $75 will get you dinner for one, including tip. Was this a 'Rep meeting' or just Mattiello's way of charging his high-end dinner to the campaign account?
On November 18, 2014, $57.67 was spent on another 'Rep meeting' at posh downcity eatery McCormick & Schmick. As with Capriccio, it's hard to imagine that 60 bucks will get more than one person fed at M&S.
On November 10, 2014, his campaign lists an expenditure of $36.61 at Bistro 22 in Cranston. It's not hard to imagine that one person can spend 36 bucks on a decent dinner. Two glasses of wine and a steak gets you there pretty quickly.
In addition to the over $18,000 spent on two fundraisers at the Providence Marriott, on Nov. 20 and 28 of 2014, Mattiello charged $31.73 and $30.92, respectively, for food and beverages at the hotel. Again, not a stretch to think that these expenditures were less of a meeting with colleagues, and more of an "I'm hungry."
These are just a few examples of questionable expenditures by Mattiello. Other 'grey spending' include costs of picture framing on more than 1 occasion, "xmas gifts for office staff" originating from Alex and Ani (Total: $359.52), and $10,000 for a 'holiday party.' If you dig back into his historical campaign spending record, you will find MANY more instances of this type of expenditure. I barely got through 2014 filings before I was disgusted enough to write this blog post!
More disturbingly, Mattiello intimates in the article that, "This is no different than what is done in the business world. I also host small lunch and dinner meetings with my members in settings that provide an opportunity to collaborate informally to help us achieve consensus and better serve the public." Collaborating informally out of the public eye to "build consensus" flies in the face of transparency and accountability.
According to campaign finance rules, a candidate has several options concerning campaign funds after the campaign is over, one of which is to return contributions to the donor.
If I were Mattiello, I'd put some serious thought into that option, because the people that supported his campaign this time around may not want to offer their monetary support in the next election.