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Providence City Councilman to pay $3K penalty for campaign finance violations


Providence City Councilman to pay $3K penalty for campaign finance violations

Jun 07, 2023 | 2:42 pm ET
By Nancy Lavin
Providence City Councilman to pay $3K penalty for campaign finance violations
Providence City Councilman Juan Pichardo has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine for violating campaign finance laws as part of a consent order with the Rhode Island Board of Elections. (Providence City Council photo)

A Providence city councilman will pay $3,000 in fines for violating state campaign finance laws during his 2022 campaign.

The consent order approved Tuesday between Providence City Councilman Juan Pichardo and the Rhode Island Board of Elections comes after an audit of Pichardo’s campaign finance account found the Democrat failed to disclose or properly account for more than $14,000 in campaign contributions and $10,000 in spending, among other violations.

Pichardo, a Democrat who represents the council’s 9th Ward spanning parts of South Providence, Washington Park and the West End, said in a statement Wednesday he takes “full responsibility” for the reporting errors.

“I deeply regret any inconvenience or disappointment caused to my constituents due to the incomplete record-keeping,” Pichardo said. “I want you to know I’m committed to fixing these mistakes and ensuring compliance. I have actively collaborated with the Board of Elections and have fully cooperated by providing all necessary documents to the best of my ability.”

As of Wednesday, Pichardo has paid half of the $3,000 penalty. He has also returned $50 worth of personal expenses taken from his campaign war chest, which he said was an accident in misclassifying a receipt for little league baseballs, according to the audit report. He has also forfeited $275 that was donated to his campaign through money orders from anonymous donors, the report stated. 

Pichardo also committed to appointing a campaign treasurer and hiring a certified public accountant for future campaign reporting, he said in a statement. His financial reports for the first quarter of 2023 are “complete and accurate,” he said.

“From now on, I will make every effort to make sure that my campaign finances are handled with the utmost integrity and compliance,” Pichardo said.

Pichardo previously served as a state senator from 2003 to 2017, including as a member of the Senate Committee on Finance. After winning a seat on the 15-member city council in November, he was chosen as Deputy Majority Leader and vice-chairman of the city’s Committee on Finance.

The remaining $1,500 in fines must be paid by Dec. 31, 2024, according to the consent order.