2 lawmakers spend more than $630K in campaign funds on meals
WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — Two Rhode Island lawmakers have spent more than $630,000 in campaign funds on food, beverages and meals, a review showed.
The spending accumulated by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio surged since they moved into leadership positions, The Public’s Radio reported Wednesday.
Since their first filings for this expense in 2007, the two lawmakers have spent a combined total of more than $700,000, with the addition of spending by leadership-controlled political action committees.
Mattiello described these food and drink expenses as part of the job.
“It’s just doing the business of the people of the state of Rhode Island,” he said. “We never use state dollars for that. We always use donated money and it’s great for collaboration and helping us get our work done.”
Ruggerio, on the other hand, questioned whether spending tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions each year on food and drink reinforces his political power.
“I don’t know if it does or it doesn’t,” he said. “I just think it’s a common courtesy. We’ve done it before. I know my predecessor spent money on the senators.”
Ruggerio added, “It’s kind of like the normal thing to do.”