PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – After spending roughly $848,000 to win election last year, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is slowly building up his campaign war chest, raising more than $93,000 in his first three months since taking office.
The first-term Democrat has also hired the campaign finance compliance firm founded by Brett Smiley, a former candidate for mayor who now serves as the city’s chief operating officer. Smiley has taken a temporary leave of absence from the business.
All told, Elorza raised $93,525 between Jan. 1 and April 30, according to a campaign disclosure filed last week with the R.I. Board of Elections. He ended the quarter with $62,184 cash on hand.
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Notable $1,000 donors to the mayor included former Nortek Inc. CEO Richard Bready, downtown nightclub owner Anthony Santurri and developers Brad Dimeo, William Gilbane, Steve Durkee, and Richard Lappin. He also received $500 from Gilbert Cisneros, a California resident who won $266 million in a Mega Millions jackpot in 2010 and now runs a foundation that helps Latino students go to college.
Elorza reported spending about $53,000 during the first three months of the year, which included repaying himself $20,000 from a loan he made to his campaign last year. He still has $51,406 in outstanding personal campaign debt.
The mayor’s campaign also cut three checks worth $9,500 to CFO Compliance, the firm founded by Smiley. The company’s other clients include former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, state Sen. Gayle Goldin and the Providence Democratic City Committee.
It is unclear exactly when Elorza hired Smiley’s firm, but campaign finance records show he paid the company $290 in Nov. 8, 2014, four days after he defeated Buddy Cianci in the race for mayor.
Separately, One Providence PAC, the political action committee started by Smiley to assist Elorza last year, reported raising $1,000 and spending $2,272 during the first quarter of 2015. The PAC still has $10,918 cash on hand.
On the City Council side, veteran Councilman Terry Hassett, D-Ward 12, posted the largest war chest, with $29,791 cash on hand. Council President Luis Aponte isn’t required to file his next report until May 7, but he held $2,573 as of Dec. 31.
Of the two former mayors with open campaign accounts, Taveras reported $18,180 cash on hand. Cianci, who has returned to hosting his drive time radio show on WPRO-AM, still had $3,254 after spending $981,536 during last year’s campaign.