Biden campaign hits Mattiello over Convention Center scandal

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A top staffer for Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden slammed House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello over the Convention Center scandal Wednesday after the speaker withdrew his support from Biden and threw it to rival Amy Klobuchar.

Months after backing the former vice president, Mattiello surprised attendees Wednesday at a Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce event when he revealed he was abandoning Biden in favor of Klobuchar following the former’s disappointing performances in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Mattiello suggested the former vice president is “not doing as well as I would have hoped,” according to a Boston Globe report.

Biden spokesperson Bill Russo quickly hit back on Twitter, linking to a story about the ongoing grand jury investigation examining whether Mattiello retaliated against Convention Center leaders over a personnel investigation into his friend. Target 12 first revealed the dispute last month.

Pointing to the article, Russo tweeted, “Speaking of ‘not doing well.’ Wonder if we’re the only campaign that vets people some days.” (Russo declined further comment in an email to WPRI 12.)

The pointed rebuke of the speaker — who controls the Rhode Island Democratic Party apparatus — came just days after the Biden campaign sent national reporters a news release about its Rhode Island endorsements that failed to highlight the speaker’s support.

The grand jury heard testimony about the Convention Center affair for a second day on Wednesday, with the state’s auditor general and the facility’s general manager both appearing. Two top Mattiello advisers, Leo Skenyon and Frank Montanaro Jr., have also been subpoenaed.

Mattiello has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. His spokespersons did not respond to a request for comment.

R.I. Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki wrote on Twitter, “Joe Biden didn’t want Nick Mattiello’s endorsement. When will RI house democrats stop supporting Nick Mattiello ?”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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