Lawyers among top campaign donors to Mayor Elorza at end of ’16

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Attorneys from the law firm that has represented the city in its long-running battle with Providence’s firefighters were among the leading donors to Mayor Jorge Elorza’s campaign in the final three months of 2016, according to a filing with the R.I. Board of Elections Tuesday.

Eight lawyers from Providence-based Whelan, Corrente, Kinder & Siket LLP contributed a total of $4,100 to Elorza’s political war chest between October and December. All told, the mayor raised just under $130,000 during the three-month period.

Elorza, a Democrat who has already said he plans to run for re-election next year, is now sitting on $381,656.

The contributions Elorza received from attorneys at Whelan, Corrente, Kinder & Siket LLP came after he announced the city had struck a deal with the firefighters’ union to return to a four-platoon schedule in exchange for a reduction in the mandatory minimum numbers of workers that must be on duty at all times.

Elorza’s campaign filings show employees from the firm donated $1,175 to the mayor in the 20 months before he announced the deal with the firefighters.

The firm has represented the city throughout its bitter dispute with the union over schedule changes – and continues to do so as the two sides remain in arbitration over how much firefighters should be paid for working an extra 14 hours per week on average for all of 2016. Records show the firm was paid more than $330,000 as of September 2016.

Aside from the lawyers, Elorza’s top contributors in the final three months of the year included a wide array of other attorneys, developers and lobbyists. Among the prominent donors were downtown developer Buff Chace, former Nortek chief executive Richard Bready, former Attorney General Patrick Lynch, IGT CEO Donald Sweitzer and Ray Meador and Bruce Waterson, who run ProvPort.

Elorza reported spending $34,737 during the fourth quarter, with the largest chunk of money going toward CFO Compliance, the firm that assists him with fundraising. He also paid the prestigious University Club $2,709 to cover a fundraiser he held there and spent $940 to pay rent for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s Providence headquarters.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan