PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Ethics Commission voted Tuesday to grant Cranston Mayor Allan Fung permission to fill in as a radio talk show host on WPRO.
The panel voted unanimously to allow Fung to appear on the airwaves, as long as it’s on a part-time and not full-time basis.
“It’s certainly exciting for me and we’ll see, you know, what happens now going forward,” Fung told reporters after the vote.
Fung said the opportunity happened “on a whim,” explaining he had just recently appeared on WPRI 12’s “Newsmakers” program when he discussed the possibility of filling-in on the talk radio station.
“It was a lively dynamic,” he said of the “Newsmakers” episode in which he sparred with NEARI’s executive director, Robert Walsh. “This was something that, you know, sitting behind the mic could be an opportunity, too.”
Fung said the idea of filling in came up naturally during a conversation with WPRO management. Representatives from WPRO declined to comment Tuesday.
Michael Sepe, who unsuccessfully challenged Fung in 2016 and chairs the Cranston Democratic City Committee, took umbrage at the mayor’s move.
“Now he thinks he’s Buddy Cianci and he wants to be a talk show host,” Sepe said. “Of course this is a political publicity stunt. This gentleman here, he has his eyes not on the next election, but on the 2022 election. He wants to run for governor again.”
Fung is term-limited and unable to run for mayor again when his current term expires in 2020. The Republican unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014 and 2018.
Asked Tuesday if he plans to seek the governor’s office again, Fung said if he did, he would seek an opinion from the state’s Board of Elections about working on the radio.
Sepe raised concerns about Fung’s dedication to the city of Cranston, arguing his gubernatorial campaigns have already taken him away from his duties.
“Once again, here we go with an absentee mayor,” Sepe said.
Fung insisted his job as mayor is still his top priority. “I’m not taking a full-time second job, this isn’t going to be ‘The Allan Fung Show,'” he said, adding, “This is also a secondary opportunity where I have the chance to fill in on something that, who knows where it might lead down the line.”
“As of right now, I’m the mayor of Cranston, finishing strong, and fill-in talk show host as secondary opportunity,” he said.