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Influential union slapped with fine for excessive donations to R.I. pols

Providence, RI - 04/25/19 -   The Rhode Island State House seen from Kennedy Plaza in Providence, RI.  (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter:  (for files)  Topic: ()
Providence, RI - 04/25/19 - The Rhode Island State House seen from Kennedy Plaza in Providence, RI. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter: (for files) Topic: ()Lane Turner/Globe Staff

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LEADING OFF

Happy Thursday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I'm Dan McGowan and these lucrative new baseball contracts finally have me thinking I’m in the wrong line of work. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

Anyone who pays close attention to campaign donations in Rhode Island has probably noticed that the political action committee run by the influential state correctional officers’ union seems to contribute an awful lot to state lawmakers.

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Turns out the group has given too much.

The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted this week to fine union president Richard Ferruccio $1,020 for allowing the PAC to exceed the state’s $25,000 annual cap on aggregate campaign contributions in each of the last three years. Ferruccio agreed to pay the penalty in a consent order with the board.

The union has a strong presence at the State House, often weighing in on various criminal justice reform issues and most recently opposing a plan to temporarily close the high security unit at the Adult Correctional Institution while a new unit is built. It’s also not shy about issuing endorsements during election season.

Richard Hahn, the PAC’s treasurer, apologized to the board for the violations and said the union has instituted new policies to ensure it complies with state law, according to an audit published this week.

The board found that the PAC exceeded the state donation limit by $4,075 in 2017, $1,350 in 2018 and $4,775 through the first three quarters in 2019. Among the contributions it made this year were $1,000 each to Congressman James Langevin, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.

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The correctional officers’ union wasn’t the only one slapped with a fine from the board this week.

Christopher Buffery, who chairs a PAC run by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, agreed to a $350 fine for exceeding the $25,000 state limit in 2018. And former Providence City Council candidate Raymond Berarducci agreed to a $2,000 fine for accepting a loan for his campaign from a family member.

NEED TO KNOW

Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you've got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

  • It has been seven years since the video game company founded by Curt Schilling went belly up, leaving Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars. But Ed Fitzpatrick reports the state continues to suffer today from the hangover of 38 Studios.
  • As the US House of Representatives prepares to vote on the first of two articles of impeachment against President Trump, Representative David Cicilline was among the Democrats who called on Republicans standing by the president to “wake up” and honor their oath of office.
  • A World War I veteran from Newport was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart medal this week from the US Coast Guard more than a century after he was killed in action. Charles Parkin was one of 130 crew members aboard the USS Tampa who died when their ship was struck by a German torpedo in 1918.
  • Education news: The Nowell Leadership Academy, a charter school that caters to pregnant and parenting students, is planning to move its two campuses to 150 Washington Street in Providence next year.
  • A three-batter minimum for pitchers in Major League baseball? Sign me up.

WHAT'S ON TAP TODAY

Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

  • While all eyes are on impeachment, the US House of Representatives is also poised to vote later today on a bill that would dramatically reduce prescription drug prices. But in a call with reporters yesterday, Representative Cicilline acknowledged the legislation doesn’t appear to have support from Senate Republicans.
  • A state commission studying how to deal with vicious dogs meets this morning to learn about laws on the books in other states.
  • This is just over the border in Connecticut, but if you’re looking for something to do with your kids tonight, tomorrow or Saturday, I’m told “Northern Lights” at Mystic Aquarium is awesome.
  • Happening tonight: The Matunuck Holiday Stroll begins at 5 p.m.
  • Best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick will be at the Providence Athenaeum tonight and then plans to sign books at the First Unitarian Church.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.