13 of Gov. McKee’s senior staffers will earn six-figure salaries

Politics - Government

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thirteen of the people initially hired to work in Gov. Dan McKee’s office will make six-figure salaries, Rhode Island’s new leader announced Wednesday.

McKee released a partial list of salaries for his senior staff, which in total includes 34 people from both the private and public sectors across the state. The annual salaries range from nearly $200,000 down to about $26,000.

“I am fortunate to have recruited a highly professional team of individuals who are talented, experienced, encompass diverse perspectives and who share a passion for public service,” McKee said in a statement Tuesday. He will earn $145,755 per year as governor.

Former state budget officer Thomas Mullaney, who has temporarily joined McKee’s administration as a senior adviser, has the largest annual salary, totaling nearly $200,000.

Mullaney is followed by McKee’s chief of staff Anthony Silva ($187,421), executive counsel Claire Richards ($164,079), senior deputy chief of staff Antonio Afonso ($162,045) and deputy chief of staff Christopher Abhulime ($154,198).

A Target 12 analysis of former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s senior staff salaries shows McKee has offered his employees about the same or slightly less money across most positions. Raimondo had 38 staff members in her office as of Jan. 29, according to a list provided last week.

The salaries provided by McKee’s office Wednesday do not include other types of state employee compensation, such as longevity pay. A spokesperson said she has requested that information from the state’s human resources office and will provide it once it becomes available.

Here is a full list of McKee’s senior staff, along with their salaries:

  • Christopher Abhulime, Deputy Chief of Staff – $154,198
  • Antonio Afonso, Senior Deputy Chief of Staff – $162,045
  • Kim Ahern, Policy Director and Senior Counsel – $129,023
  • Suzanne Augenstein, Director of Executive Operations – $78,673
  • Guerline Aurelus, Director of Constituent Services – $78,673
  • David Barricelli Jr., Constituent Services Associate – $48,307
  • Jonathan Bissonnette, Staff Writer and Content Manager – $55,677
  • Joseph Casoli, Governor’s Office Liaison – $26,000
  • Cheyenne Cazeault, Policy Advisor – $62,339
  • Alana Cerrone-O’Hare, Press Secretary – $90,487
  • Eileen Cheng, Deputy Counsel – $139,085
  • Tara Chicharro, Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff – $70,039
  • Rosa DeCastillo, Director of Community Affairs and Outreach – $93,766
  • Ronald Desiderato, Special Assistant to the Governor – $78,055 (on loan from Department of Administration)
  • Tabatha Dube, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff – $70,039
  • Craig Dwyer, Manager of Appointments – $93,766
  • Christopher Farrell, Senior Advisor to the Governor – $123,982
  • Paulette Hamilton, Director of Municipal Affairs – $93,766
  • Kevin Horan, Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs – $123,982
  • Corey Jones, Policy Advisor – $58,119
  • Lexi Kriss, Deputy Director of Communications – $90,378
  • Christine Lopes Metcalfe, Senior Advisor to the Governor on Education – $155,225 (on loan from Rhode Island Department of Education)
  • Brenna McCabe, Senior Advisor to the Governor – $149,163
  • Meredith McKenna, Legal Administrator – $78,673
  • Thomas Mullaney, Senior Advisor – $199,794 (on loan from the Office of Management and Budget)
  • Andrea Palagi, Director of Communications – $118,946
  • Joseph Polisena Jr., Deputy Counsel on Policy – $93,766
  • Claire Richards, Executive Counsel – $164,079
  • Victoria Scott, Policy Advisor – $58,119
  • Anthony Silva, Chief of Staff – $187,421
  • Joy Vaudreuil, Director of Scheduling – $78,673
  • Americo Vota, Deputy Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs – $113,911

McKee also announced one new position since Tuesday:

  • Jennifer Fondeur, Office Manager – $70,960

He also provided one update:

  • Becky Rodrigues, Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff (formerly announced as Office Manager) – $73,448.18 (on loan from Human Resources Department)

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook

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