PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has accepted the resignation of communications staffer Kevin Aherne who sent, then deleted, a tweet criticizing Cranston Police and Mayor Allan Fung.
“I reached out to Mayor Fung yesterday and I apologized on behalf of the city,” Elorza told reporters. “That was inexcusable and inappropriate and Mr. Aherne no longer works for the city.”
Aherne, who was the director of communications in the planning department, posted the tweet on Tuesday night with a photo of a Warwick Police cruiser pulled over in a median apparently speaking to panhandlers.
Aherne, evidently mistaking the cruiser for Cranston Police, wrote: “Oh @CranstonPolice, criminalizing poverty. @AllanFungRI go Fung yourself.”
Fung quickly responded on Twitter, tagging Elorza and writing: “Your staff should consult @GinaRaimondo’s campaign on how to properly identify Cranston, the best city in the state.”
Fung was referring to an attack ad Raimondo’s campaign released in 2018 criticizing Cranston, while showing video of streets in Providence.
A spokesperson for Fung said in a brief statement Thursday: “Mayor Fung appreciates Mayor Elorza reaching out to him to apologize for the disrespectful tweet by one of his employees and then taking immediate action.”
Reached by phone, Aherne confirmed he was resigning over the tweet.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to represent the city that I love and I’m looking forward to moving on,” Aherne said. He declined to elaborate about the tweet itself, which has now been deleted.
Providence Senator Sam Bell came to Aherne’s defense on Thursday, saying Aherne should apologize for the photo mix-up but should not have lost his job.
“He was wrong to misidentify the car,” Bell said. “But I don’t think Democratic staffers should have to apologize for criticizing Allan Fung harshly.”
“I think the Democratic Party has been way too easy on Allan Fung,” Bell added.
Aherne, a former newspaper reporter, started working for the city in March with an annual salary of $60,000, according to a spokesperson.