- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s deputy majority whip has a campaign finance case pending before the attorney general, but an aide said Friday the speaker didn’t know it when he tapped the lawmaker for the post and that the issues are being addressed.

Spokesman Larry Berman said Mattiello didn’t realize the Board of Elections voted in January to refer a case involving Rep. Joseph Almeida to the Rhode Island attorney general.

After a review of campaign finance reports from July 2008 to December 2012, the board said it found Almeida didn’t report about $8,200 in donations and $9,700 in expenses. It also said he provided no explanation for $3,900 in cash withdrawals or checks payable to cash or himself, among other issues.

In a statement, Berman said Mattiello asked Almeida, D-Providence, to address the issue as soon as he learned of it this week. Almeida went to the Board of Elections on Friday morning and told Mattiello he is taking “full responsibility,” according to Berman.

A message was left for Almeida on Friday.

Mattiello was elected speaker Tuesday to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Gordon Fox following a raid of his Statehouse office and home. Mattiello selected Almeida as deputy majority whip, and the Democratic caucus endorsed the choice the same day. Almeida served in the House from 1999 to 2010 and was elected again in 2012.

The board of elections has had questions about Almeida’s campaign finance reports dating back to 2012. The board’s director of campaign finance wrote him in August of that year requesting copies of bank records and supporting documentation so an audit could be done.

The board received some but not all of the requested materials, so a subpoena was issued to Almeida’s bank in May 2013 for various records, according to copies of the documents provided by Robert Kando, the election board’s executive director.

After completing its audit, the board last October notified Almeida of the findings and asked to schedule settlement discussions. It got no response, Kando said, so the board again attempted to reach him in November. The board again got no response.

The board voted in January to send the case to Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. His spokeswoman, Amy Kempe, said Friday the office is reviewing it.

According to Berman, Almeida has retained a new campaign treasurer, who is a certified public accountant, and is in the process of reviewing past campaign finance reports. He has three overdue reports from 2013, according to election board records.

“He will soon correct past reporting errors and file new reports that are past due,” Berman said.

Kando said it’s relatively rare for the board to refer such cases to the attorney general. He said he spoke with Almeida at the board’s headquarters Friday.

“I explained to him that we would be happy to accept any filings that he had and we’d even work with him to help him file,” Kando said.

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