PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One day after Rep. Ray Gallison abruptly resigned his seat amid a federal and state investigation, Target 12 has uncovered new information that raises questions about the nonprofit Gallison worked for.
Gallison, who also served as chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee, is listed as a paid assistant director for Alternative Education Programming (AEP) which, according to its website, helps underprivileged kids get into college.
Tax returns filed by the nonprofit and reviewed by Target 12 show AEP is almost entirely funded by legislative grants – taxpayer dollars that lawmakers direct to specific groups when they approve the annual state budget. The General Assembly included $11.6 million in one type of such grants, community-service grants, in the current year’s budget.
- PDF: See the full list of 2015-16 community-service grant recipients
- Update: Nonprofit tied to ex-Rep. Gallison accused of forging signature
AEP has received about $1.7 million in taxpayer money from community-service grants since 2005, according to an analysis of budget documents by Target 12. An affiliated group, Man-Up, received a new grant for an additional $30,000 in the first budget passed after Gallison took over the House budget-writing committee in 2014.
In separate financial disclosure documents filed with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, Gallison reported that he was paid by AEP. He was not required to reveal the amount, and the group’s tax returns do not list his compensation.
Target 12 paid a visit to AEP’s Providence office twice over two days. Both times no one was there.
Three of four board members listed on AEP’s website said they had no idea they were board members of the organization.
Aubrey Lombardo, who is listed as president of AEP’s board on its most recent tax return, said: “I’m shocked that I am even affiliated with this.”
She said she did not know how much Gallison was paid in his role as assistant director.
“I was never aware that I was listed as president,” Lombardo said. “I have never seen any financial paperwork or anything.”
Maria DaGraca, another individual listed on the website and with the secretary of state’s office as a board member, said: “I haven’t worked there since God knows when.”
Victor Capellan, the school superintendent of Central Falls, is also listed as being on the board, but said he last had contact with the group three years ago, and that was volunteer work.
“I was involved from 2010 to 2013,” Capellan said. “I was surprised to see my name still listed.”
AEP’s former executive director, Leo DiMaio, died in 2014. But the organization has continued to receive money from the General Assembly since, and Gallison’s financial documents indicate the former lawmaker continued to receive a paycheck.
It’s unclear if AEP is part of the ongoing state and federal investigation into Gallison, which sources confirm also relates to prostitution.
Jason Grammit, an attorney for the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, would neither confirm nor deny if his agency had been contacted by federal and state investigators to request Gallison’s financial disclosure forms.
Gallison refused to answer questions when Target 12 met up with him outside his Bristol home on Tuesday, the same day he formally resigned from office.
Gallison’s attorney, Anthony Traini, said Gallison resigned “for personal reasons” but said he could not yet discuss the situation further. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Gallison resigned due to “personal legal problems.”
Mattiello told reporters Tuesday that he no longer thinks it was appropriate for a lawmaker to be receiving a salary from an organization that was so reliant on legislative grants for funding. The speaker said he’s looking at significantly scaling back the long-controversial program, particularly when it comes to small organizations such as AEP, when the state budget is released by next month.
Ted Nesi contributed to this report.