Arthur Christopher Schaper
Unconfirmed reports are swirling around Rhode Island that with following former Speaker Fox’s fallout, another domino will fall.
Who’s next on the Rhode Island corruption chopping block?
Newly-elected Governor Gina Raimondo? Local media have blasted her support for Gordon Fox during his elections for Assembly, and throughout his speakership. She could apologize for that. Is she the criminal mastermind putting public money to private uses? Not likely. She is a True Believer, and thus too close to the progressive cause to throw it all away for hush-hush money under the table. Besides, her prior private life on Wall Street has immunized her from making he foolish mistakes of local pols, like those who take money in checks.
Clay Pell? He’s still looking for his Prius. Some less charitable critics would contend that he would get lost in a museum. Angel Taveras? He fled the Providence mess after one term, then lost his bid for Governor. He could be waiting in the wings for another opportunity, though. Why mess it up? Buddy is busted and gone, and no cares about Dr. Dan.
Who in the Providence politics miasma could go down with Fox, now set to serve three years in prison for corruption, misuse of campaign funds, and bribery?
“Grand Theft Auto” David Cicilline.
These are just rumors, for now, but as I wrote before, the talk in the town suggests that the Congressman, formerly known as the Prince of Providence, will be on the way out next.
“60%” another source shared with me.
Another source, who refused to go on record, suggested that malfeasance with federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) could bring down the Providence-Pawtucket politician. Besides, local activists have shared their (lack of) surprise should Cicilline go down over financial shenanigans.
Cicilline has connections with bringing in federal dollars before. He has steered millions of HUD dollars to the Ocean State during his brief (soon to be ended?) Congressional tenure:
He worked with the two US Senators Reed and Whitehouse to secure $3 million for lead removal.
In another press release, the Congressman announced:
U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) announced today that the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) awarded $580,144 to public housing agencies in Rhode Island including the Central Falls Housing Authority, Housing Authority of the City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island Housing, The Housing Authority of the City of Providence and Town of Cumberland Housing Authority.
Just two weeks ago, Cicilline announced another $5 million grant for disability housing assistance.
The first question that comes to mind: shouldn’t the effectiveness of any program depend on how many people get off the government dole, rather than how much money gets spent on the program?
Second question: was the federal money well-spent?
A year later, during Cicilline’s reelection campaign, WarwickOnline reported:
More trouble for Cicilline
More information has surfaced about the fiscal mismanagement that was so rampant during Congressman David Cicilline's tenure as mayor of Providence. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its report on improper spending of taxpayer-provided grant money and mismanaged loans that occurred under Cicilline's leadership. Up to $1.5 million was misspent on such things as marketing, catered meetings and limo services. Twenty percent of the HUD-funded loans specifically designated for jobs creation resulted in no jobs being created (total loans amounted to $14.8 million). And of the 79 loans made, 29 were written off as un-collectable at a cost to taxpayers of $2.17 million.
Instead of building and repairing homes, the Providence political class was fluffing their own nests?
While the press reported on HUD mismanagement again on Page One, only now it seems that there is enough blood on the trial to find the dead body and the smoking gun with Cicilline’s fingerprints all over.
Rhode Islanders lament their habitual resignation with state lawmakers misusing local and state funds. When the feds get involved, however, the consequences are deeper, worse, and longer lasting. Speaker Fox and the Smith Hill statehouse was raided, but not fully cleansed. Now 38 Studios has gone bust, and the kingpin in the Video Game business gone bad is going to jail (so far) for unrelated crimes.
With the HUD squandered or worse, fraudulently spent, and the feds fuming, will it be “Game Over” for GTA Cicilline?
Let the games begin.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a writer, blogger, and political commentator on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.