Warwick, RI – Shawna Lawton’s Google Hangout comments to her closest allies is clear and credible evidence that Ms. Lawton was «promised» action on vaccination issues by the Mattiello campaign in exchange for her endorsement. This raises three major issues.

First, as noted by Common Cause Rhode Island, there is no doubt Lawton’s endorsement mailer violated Rhode Island’s campaign finance law. The mailer cost over $1,000. If it is a coordinated expenditure, it violated the law by exceeding the $1,000 limit. If it is an independent expenditure, it was not reported within 24 hours in violation of the law. The Board of Elections must immediately act on the R.I. Republican Party’s complaint and open an investigation in order to collect evidence as quickly as possible before it disappears. Although Mattiello advisor Jeff Britt denies he discussed vaccination issues with Ms. Lawton, he has not denied talking with her about endorsing Mattiello or her endorsement mailer. It seems clear that there was consultation and coordination between the Mattiello campaign and Lawton and both should be penalized.

Second, Ms. Lawton indicated in writing that she was «promised» action on vaccination issues by the Mattiello campaign in return for her endorsement. This is a quid pro quo, and could be considered a form of bribery. For example, in New Jersey, the offer by one candidate to endorse another candidate in exchange for a government job constituted bribery. State v. Woodward, 689 A.2d 801 (1997). Although Mattiello and Lawton deny there was any deal, Ms. Lawton’s written comments say otherwise. Law enforcement should investigate this deal between the Lawton and the Mattiello campaigns for any potential criminal wrongdoing.

Lastly, the Mattiello campaign will almost certainly soon be under investigation by the Board of Elections. Law enforcement may begin to investigate as well. Democrats running for state representative across this state must ask themselves, if somehow Speaker Mattiello was re-elected, how could they vote for him to be Speaker under the circumstances, especially after all the scandals. Remember, the investigation into Speaker Gordon Fox was originally about campaign finance, but in the end he went to prison for bribery. Every candidate running for state representative should declare they will not support Mattiello to be re-elected for Speaker. Let’s put the scandals of the Mattiello leadership team, and now his own campaign, behind us.