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Providence lawmaker fined $6,000 for campaign finance violations

An audit found state Representative Ramon A. Perez used some campaign funds for personal expenses, reported campaign expenses not in bank records, and had bank expenditures that did not appear in campaign finance reports

Sign at new Rhode Island Board of Elections headquarters in Johnston, R.I.Edward Fitzpatrick

PROVIDENCE — A week after two Rhode Island state senators faced fines for campaign finance violations, the state Board of Elections announced Wednesday that a third lawmaker made personal purchases from his campaign account.

State Representative Ramon A. Perez, a Providence Democrat, will be fined $6,000.

An audit from the board shows from January 2020 through March 2022, Perez used $1,072 of his campaign funds for personal expenses, reported $6,574 in loans and $8,595 in campaign expenses that never showed up in bank records, and $7,831 in expenditures appeared on bank statements but never showed in his campaign reports.

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Rhode Island State Representative Ramon A. Perez is a Providence Democrat that also represents parts of Johnston.HANDOUT

Candidates cannot use money raised for campaigning for non-political purposes, according to state law. But according to a Board of Elections spokesperson on Thursday, Perez spent campaign dollars at Rodriguez Meat Market 11 times, takeout from McDonald’s and Taco Bell, four transactions at Walgreens, several gas stations, Dunkin’, and other meat and deli markets.

Perez was ordered to reimburse his campaign bank account $1,072.49.

Perez told the Board that he would communicate the contribution and expenditure information to be included on each campaign finance report to his treasurer over the phone. He alleges that the treasurer did not review source documentation or campaign bank statements.

He also admitted to the board that he paid some campaign expenditures from his personal funds and not from his campaign account, reasoning that the campaign “owed him” money which “allowed” him to make the personal expenditures.

Perez, who will have to submit campaign bank account statements and documentation to the board through the end of 2024, did not respond to the Globe’s request for comment on Wednesday.

Perez, a conservative Democrat who also represents parts of Johnston, will face independent Ivan Montanez in the November general election.

On July 25, the board fined two senators for separate campaign finance violations: Senator Elaine J. Morgan, a Hopkinton Republican, was fined $1,200; and Senator Thomas Paolino, a Lincoln Republican, was fined $2,500.

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This story has been updated to include comments from a Board of Elections spokesperson.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.