GOP expands its complaint over Mattiello mailer

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DO NOT USE Nicholas Mattiello and Shawna Lawton DO NOT USE

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Republican Party isn’t done litigating what happened in Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s re-election race last year, filing an amended R.I. Board of Elections complaint Wednesday over the actions of his rival-turned-supporter.

Shawna Lawton lost the Republican primary to challenge Mattiello in House District 15 last September, then made headlines when she sent a mailer endorsing the speaker paid for by undisclosed donors. GOP Chairman Brandon Bell quickly filed a formal complaint over the mailer after leaked private messages showed Lawton claiming she was “promised” help in exchange for her support.

On Christmas Eve, Lawton belatedly filed a so-called “independent expenditure” report disclosing two $1,000 donations she received in mid-October to pay for the pro-Mattiello mailer. Such reports are supposed to be filed within 24 hours of the money being spent when it happens that close to an election.

In Wednesday’s amended complaint, Bell charged that the two donors – Victor Pichette and Teresa Graham – both have ties to Mattiello through one of the speaker’s political advisers, prominent local operative Jeff Britt, who has repeatedly denied any involvement in the mailer. He urged the Board of Elections to investigate the matter.

“Coordination with Lawton and Mattiello campaign is clear,” Bell said in an email. “The most powerful politician in Rhode Island is not above the law and should not get away with breaking it. Additionally, his campaign minions should not be able to break the law without consequences.”

“We all deserve to know what was really going on in the Mattiello campaign,” he added.

The Board of Elections has not taken any action on the GOP complaint yet.Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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