Providence Councilman Hassett files a year’s worth of late campaign reports

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – On the same day he was at the center of a political tug-of-war between members of the Providence City Council, longtime Councilman Terrence Hassett belatedly filed a year’s worth of campaign finance reports with the R.I. Board of Election.

Hassett, the longest-serving member of the council, had not submitted any mandatory quarterly reports to the board since Jan. 30, but he filed four disclosures that were due between Jan. 31 and Oct. 31 on Thursday. He also amended 12 other reports dating back to 2014.

The Democrat from Ward 12 still owes the state $1,282 in fines for his past-due reports, according to Richard Thornton, the board’s director of campaign finance. Thornton said he believes Hassett may appeal the fines, but nothing has been filed yet.

Hassett did not report raising or spending any campaign funds over the last year, but state law requires candidates to file disclosures even if there hasn’t been any activity with their accounts. His had $1,893 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. (His fourth quarter report is not due until Jan. 31, 2018.)

Hassett, who has served on the council since 1997, has been saying he would file the past-due reports for several months, but he was working with his bank to reconcile his account. Earlier this month, he told Eyewitness News he would “wrap this up pretty soon.”

The filings came hours before Ward 14 Councilman David Salvatore was elected City Council president. Hassett, who serves as a senior deputy majority leader on the council, agreed to support Salvatore’s bid earlier in the week, but other council members spent several days attempting to convince him to run for president himself.

Reached Friday, Ward 15 Councilwoman Sabina Matos said one of the reasons she refused to support Hassett’s candidacy was because of his failure to file the reports. Matos is the council president pro tempore and had been serving as acting president until Thursday.

Campaign finance violations have dogged members of the City Council for several years.

In 2015, Ward 10 Councilman Luis Aponte and Ward 3 Councilman Kevin Jackson were elected president and majority leader of the council despite years of failing to file campaign reports. Jackson was arrested in 2016 for allegedly embezzling from a youth organization and misusing campaign money. Aponte was charged earlier this year with embezzling from his campaign fund and resigned from his leadership position.

Both men have pleaded not guilty. Aponte is still a member of the council. Jackson was recalled from office.

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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