Dan McGowan

Councilman Aponte can run for re-election, but owes $49K in campaign fines

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence City Councilman Luis Aponte has been cleared to run for re-election, but he still owes the state more than $49,000 for failing to file multiple campaign finance reports over several years.

Richard Thornton, who oversees campaign finance for the R.I. Board of Elections, confirmed Wednesday Aponte currently owes the state $49,429, with fines increasing by $8 every day because he currently has four past-due reports.

Aponte, a Democrat who is still facing criminal charges for allegedly misusing campaign funds, said he plans to discuss the outstanding reports with his defense attorney, Artin Coloian.

The Providence Board of Canvassers voted Wednesday to remove one signature from Aponte’s nominating papers following a complaint by his Democratic primary, Pedro Espinal. But the board declined to consider Espinal’s request to throw out an entire sheet of signatures, which would have resulted in the councilman being removed from the ballot.

Aponte has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges - unlawful appropriation from his campaign fund and embezzlement - and two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully using campaign funds for personal use. His next court date is scheduled for next month.

Aponte has never been charged with a crime related to failing to file campaign reports, but the Board of Elections’ initial investigation into his campaign account was triggered after he belatedly filed more than two dozen reports shortly after he was re-elected in 2014. The board referred Aponte’s case in 2016 and he was indicted by a statewide grand jury last year.

As it stands now, Aponte has failed to file his four most recent reports, dating back to July 31, 2017. Another report is due to the state next week. Each past-due report results in a one-time fine of $25 plus $2 per day until it is filed.

Aponte had $14,457 in campaign account as of May 1, 2017.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan


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