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House speaker could be called to testify in ex-aide’s trial

January 7, 2020 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s House speaker could be called as a witness if one of his former campaign aides goes on trial in a money laundering case.

The aide, Jeff Britt, pleaded not guilty in November to charges of money laundering and making a prohibited campaign contribution. A pretrial conference was scheduled for Tuesday. The list of potential witnesses for a trial, submitted by prosecutors, includes Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

Authorities allege Britt funded a $1,000 contribution made through a third party to defeated Republican primary candidate Shawna Lawton and the money ended up helping pay for a mailer endorsing Mattiello instead of her party’s nominee in 2016.

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Britt’s attorney, Robert Corrente, has said Britt was used by the Mattiello campaign as a “fall guy.”

Mattiello has said he didn’t know about the financing for the campaign mailer, which led to the indictment.

Mattiello beat Republican opponent Steven Frias by just 85 votes in his Cranston district in 2016. The state Republican Party filed a complaint over the mailer, alleging Lawton didn’t properly disclose who funded it and claiming Lawton and Mattiello illegally coordinated through Britt.