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3 RI politicians fined following campaign finance audits

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several Rhode Island politicians were fined hundreds or even thousands of dollars as a result of recent Board of Elections campaign finance audits.

Moira Walsh, a former Democratic state representative, Robert Russo, a current Johnston Town Council member, and Jennifer Douglas, a two-time Democratic state Senate candidate, were among those who were fined for unreported campaign contributions and expenditures.

The BOE issued the fines at its Nov. 2 meeting.

Walsh was fined $750 in part for failing to report 17 expenditures. She has 180 days to pay it from personal funds. The audit looked at reports and documentation for the period Jan. 1, 2019, through June 30, 2021. Her campaign account is now listed as inactive.

Russo was fined $2,000 for incorrectly reporting a $22,344.60 loan repayment. He has 120 days to pay.

Both Walsh and Russo did not respond to Target 12’s repeated requests for comment.

The BOE fined Douglas for not disclosing 40 transactions. She has until Dec. 31 of next year to pay $1,200.

In a statement to Target 12, Douglas wrote, “I made a mistake and I’m completely ok with paying the fine because this is how we have better transparency in campaign finance reporting.”

“To the voters, I will say that I will always work hard to do my best but if I make a mistake I will own it,” she added.

Douglas said the Board acknowledged she did not knowingly do anything fraudulent and revealed she was going through a difficult personal time when she made the mistake.

Tolly Taylor (ttaylor@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook

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