PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island native competing in Maine’s closely watched U.S. Senate race has declined to accept a campaign contribution offered by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello as multiple controversies swirl around the Cranston Democrat.
Mattiello’s most recent R.I. Board of Elections filing shows he cut a $250 check for Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon on Oct. 18 — the day she was in Providence for a fundraiser hosted by many of the state’s top Democrats in support of her bid to unseat Republican Susan Collins.
But Gideon’s Federal Elections Commission filings show no sign of the Mattiello check. Her campaign declined to respond on the record, but a person familiar with the matter confirmed Gideon had not accepted a donation from him.
Mattiello campaign spokesperson Patti Doyle said the speaker’s team does not know why.
“We did receive the check back but with no note,” Doyle said in an email. “We were trying to get you a more complete answer on that front, but for now, I can confirm the check was returned back to us.”
Gideon, who grew up in East Greenwich, serves with Mattiello on the board of directors of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, a business-backed nonprofit that hosts the annual meeting of the National Speakers Conference. (Mattiello hosted the event in Newport last year.)
Mattiello’s decision to attend the Oct. 18 Gideon fundraiser surprised some attendees because he showed up just hours after one of his former advisers, Jeff Britt, had been indicted over allegations of illegal conduct stemming from the speaker’s 2016 re-election campaign.
Mattiello attended the fundraiser with his No. 2, House Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi. Gideon’s FEC filing shows her campaign did deposit a $250 contribution that Shekarchi provided through his Rhode Island Good Government PAC.
The spurned donation marks the second time in recent weeks a federal-level Democrat has sought distance from the speaker, who controls the Rhode Island Democratic Party.
Earlier this month former Vice President Joe Biden’s team left Mattiello off a list of its Rhode Island endorsements, and Mattiello switched his support to Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar days later.
Biden’s press secretary responded by indicating that the campaign had vetted Mattiello and been concerned about the ongoing grand jury investigation into his actions regarding the Rhode Island Convention Center, which Target 12 first revealed last month. Two of the speaker’s top advisers were in court Wednesday to testify before the grand jury.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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