Monday, October 26, 2020

Former Campaign Aide to Rhode Island Speaker Mattiello Charged With Money Laundering

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A former consultant to Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello‘s re-election campaign was indicted on money laundering charges on Friday. Jeffrey Britt is accused of making an illegal contribution which was used for a pro-Mattiello mailer. He faces one felony count of money laundering and a misdemeanor count of making a prohibited campaign contribution.

The indictment comes from 2016, when Britt served as a paid consultant to Mattiello’s campaign. He is accused of making a $1,000 contribution through a third party to Republican candidate Shawna Lawton, who was defeated in the primary. The money was used to fund a mailer endorsing Mattiello.

The Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office and state police have been investigating the allegation since it was brought to their attention by the state Board of Elections in October 2018.

“Rhode Island’s election laws exist for a reason: to ensure transparency in our elections,” Neronha said. “They exist to ensure that the public knows the true source of funds used to support political candidates. They exist to ensure that the public can judge the motivation underlying support for a candidate. In short, they exist to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

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According to the indictment, Britt met with Lawton twice after the primary to discuss her support of Speaker Mattiello in the general election, specifically mentioning the mailer. The indictment goes on the say that Britt approached a person, referred to as “Donor One” and asked them to give $1,000 to Lawton’s campaign for the mailer. He then gave the donor $1,000 in cash, which they deposited in their personal checking account and used to make a donation to Lawton’s campaign.

Britt is accused of giving Lawton another $1,000 check, which she deposited into her campaign account along with the check from the anonymous donor. Lawton then gave Britt a $2,150 check for the mailers, the indictment said.

Both thousand-dollar contributions were reported to the Board of Elections by Lawson, with “Donor One” listed as the contributor.

“This is a matter of great concern, and I want to assure the people of Rhode Island that this Office will stand behind the the Board of Elections in its review and investigation of election and campaign finance law violations,” Neronha continued. “Simply ignoring the Board’s attempts to gain information, without legally justifiable grounds, will send a strong indication to this Office that the full investigatory weight of this Office should be utilized.”

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Britt is scheduled to be arraigned in Kent County Superior Court on Nov. 1.

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