PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Putting Buddy Cianci back in the mayor’s office would hurt the city, because there’s no evidence he has changed his ways, three former U.S. attorneys said Tuesday.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, former Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond and Robert Corrente, a Republican appointee who briefly led the state’s Moderate Party, called a third Cianci administration an alarming prospect and urged voters to think about what they called the serious consequences of putting Cianci back in City Hall. Cianci was twice forced from office due to felony convictions.
“This is one of those moments that really transcend partisan politics,” Corrente said at a news conference.
He said Cianci hasn’t shown remorse and regularly minimizes and jokes about the crimes he committed while in office. Almond and Whitehouse said another Cianci comeback would damage the city.
Cianci winning is a “plausible enough prospect,” so the three former U.S. attorneys felt they should speak up, Whitehouse said. Many voters either didn’t live in Providence, or were too young to remember, when Cianci was mayor, Corrente said.
“We felt it was critical to correct the record and to make clear to the voters what Mr. Cianci was convicted of, so that they will be better able to decide if he is fit to be mayor for a third time,” Corrente said.
Cianci was convicted of assault in 1984 and was forced from office. After a comeback in 1990, his second stint as mayor ended in 2002 when he was convicted as part of a federal investigation into corruption in City Hall, called Operation Plunderdome by federal authorities. Several other members of his administration were also convicted. He served four and a half years in prison.
Cianci, who is running as an independent, has said he made mistakes and learned from them. He faces Democrat Jorge Elorza and Republican Dan Harrop in the Nov. 4 election.
When asked about the criticism by the former prosecutors, Cianci told the Providence Journal that the three men are “elitists” who don’t live or pay taxes in Providence.
“The city has lost its way, and I’m the only one who can put the city back on track,” Cianci said.
Almond, speaking by phone from his home in Kingston, said he believes Cianci ran a criminal enterprise from the day he took office until he left in his second term.
Corrente said he believes Cianci would run the city the same way he did previously, as a pay-to-play administration. That would discourage companies from doing business in Providence and make it more difficult for the city to win federal grants, said Whitehouse, who launched the investigation that ultimately brought Cianci down.
Some people support Cianci because he’s an entertainer, Whitehouse said, but there’s another side.
“There’s the two Buddys,” he said. “We want people to remember you get both.”
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