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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Outside money pours into the CCA Party

UPDATED: 2016 Edition of “Who owns the CCA?”
By Will Collette

On the campaign trail with the CCA
UPDATED WITH A FIXED BROKEN LINK. The original link posted sent you to the wrong article. Corrected link is below. Sorry for the error. - WC

I haven’t written much about town elections here in Charlestown. What’s the point? The Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) is guaranteed to emerge from the November election as the continued master of Charlestown municipal government, winning their 5th election in a row.

Currently, the CCA Party controls every elected seat in Charlestown. Eleven of those seats will be on the ballot on November 8: five Town Council seats, four for Planning Commission, one for Chariho School Committee and the Town Moderator.

Every candidate but one (corrected link: CLICK HERE) is running on the CCA Party ticket. Unless some miraculous and improbable write-in campaign occurs, the only question is whether the CCA Party will control all five Town Council seats or “just” a 4 to 1 majority.

That means a guarantee that decisions on town policy will continue to be made in secret, in the private monthly meetings of the CCA Party Steering Committee which includes key members of the Town Council, Planning Commission, Budget Commission and Zoning Board of Review. Here is an internet tool to help you find out where those meetings are held. (Ok, that was just for fun; the monthly meetings actually rotate among the homes of the respective steering committee members.)

The town election was basically OVER when candidates filed their declarations last June.
Nonetheless, the CCA Party is raising an amazing amount of money for a small town election as if it faced a serious challenge.

They have always been good at that. They generally don’t raise money until the last six months before a general election and then mostly in October. That’s when they count on big checks from the non-resident property owners who have pretty much set the CCA Party’s agenda since 2008.

More than half of the CCA Party’s funding comes from non-residents. That has been the case in the past (click HERE for 2012 and HERE for 2014) and it continues to be the case this year.

Carrying a balance of almost $5000 into this election year, the CCA Party started raising money at mid-year, bringing in $7,169. Of that, $3,450 was in the form of checks of $100 or more written to the CCA Party by people who DO NOT call Charlestown home.

Check for yourself by going to the Rhode Island Board of Elections website where you can read the CCA Party’s campaign finance reports written by none other than Deputy Dan Slattery (right) who is now CCA Party Treasurer. CLICK HERE for July and CLICK HERE for the October 7 report.

Some additional portion of the money that came in unattributed amounts less than $100 had to have also come from non-residents.

The CCA Party’s fund-raising report for October, the month where they usually bring in the greatest amount of money, is not due to be filed until November 1. Expect the non-resident totals to climb.
And for what? The CCA Party is pretty much guaranteed continued control of town government.

But there is a reason.

It’s the way non-residents vote

How Charlestown laws are made
Under Rhode Island law, you are supposed to live where you vote. While that doesn’t seem to be an ironclad rule – take our state Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi’s flexible attitude toward residence – it is the general rule.

The CCA Party once publicly supported the long-time position of its now-deceased parent organization, the RI Statewide (nee Shoreline) Coalition which held that voting rights should be conferred on those who own property in a jurisdiction.

But that’s illegal under Rhode Island law, so our non-resident property owners have figured out an even better way. They vote with their checkbooks. 

If you look at the causes and campaigns the CCA Party has promoted, they generally are those that benefit their sponsors and supporters, not the general population of Charlestown. 

Those campaign finance reports are actually a record of votes cast by folks from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Minnesota for the political party that will best represent their interests.

 In a nutshell, the CCA’s battle cry, its raison d’etre, is unabashedly preserving Charlestown as a taxpayer-subsidized retirement haven for aging Caucasian baby boomers while curtailing any development initiatives, either housing or business, that would attract families with school age children. And it plays well with the madding crowd.

From the CCA Party campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections (CLICK HERE for July and CLICK HERE for the October 7 report), here are the non-resident major donors:

Joseph McLaughlin, Connecticut and New York City
Thomas Farrell, New York who listed his address for this donation as Charlestown

Joann D’Alcomo, Massachusetts
Kate Waterman, Connecticut
Brian Mahoney, Connecticut

$100 to $200
$200 from James Arnold, Pennsylvania
$150 from Anita Baxter, Connecticut
$150 from Sarah Whittemor, Connecticut
$100 from Daniel Eramo, Florida
$100 from Sarah Reynolds, New York
$100 from Karl Broutifan, Connecticut
$100 from Patricia Thavenius, Connecticut
$100 from Nancy Owen, Minnesota
$100 from Joyce Zoldak, Virginia
$100 from Susan Jacobson, New Jersey
$100 from Joanne Gallagher, Connecticut
$100 from Mary Herling, Florida.
$100 from Deborah Brink, Virginia
$100 from Thomas Harahan, Florida

How did the Dems do?

The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC) carried a balance of just over $2000 into this election year.

In July, they reported no money raised.

Their October 10 report shows income of $513, all from Charlestown residents. Actually, all from CDTC members which, in the interest of full disclosure, includes my wife Cathy who kicked in $120.

The Dems went into this final month of the election with a balance of $2016.60 compared to the CCA Party’s balance of $7,433.08 although it appears the CCA has already made many of its major expenditures (campaign signs and paraphernalia). In the final days, expect to get swamped with mailers.

The Charlestown Dems may not have much money but it’s 100% Charlestown money.