December 13, 2006
Sec. State-Elect Mollis Fined for Election Violations
Only in Rhode Island, right? That the incoming Secretary of State, Ralph Mollis--you know, the general officer who is responsible for running clean elections--and one of his flunkies have been fined for violating campaign laws is quite an accomplishment, even in the RI political theater in which caricature has become reality.
The Ethics Commission yesterday fined North Providence Mayor A. Ralph Mollis $3,000 for violating the state ethics code during his successful campaign for secretary of state.And these are just the violations of the letter of the law. In case you forgot, it was Mollis's name that appeared so prominently on those fake ballot campaign fliers that were handed out (often within 50 feet of) at polling places on election day. Then there was the RIPTA employee who emailed campaign info for Mollis from a RIPTA computer. Or how about the campaign contributions from a known mobster? Or possibly using political connections to intimidate a local business owner to remove a campaign sign supportive of a Mollis political opponent? I think there's a pattern...
The commission also fined John E. Fleming Jr., Mollis’ longtime chief of staff and campaign chairman, $500. Both settlements, negotiated with the commission staff, stemmed from a mailed solicitation for campaign contributions that went to some North Providence town employees...
The charges against Mollis, who takes office in January, and Fleming stemmed from a campaign fundraising mailing in June that went to 1,468 persons, including 132 municipal employees, according to the settlement documents.
After the commission approved the settlement, Mollis said that “I wanted to put this behind me” and not dispute a complaint before the commission while in office.
Mollis said that the mailing was “obviously in violation” of the ethics rules. He said the fundraising letter was read to him before it was mailed. “I said, ‘Great idea — send it,’ ” Mollis said. “I should have known that list included town employees.”