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2 state senators fined for campaign-finance violations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Board of Elections on Monday announced fines against two incumbent state senators for campaign-finance violations.

One of the senators, Lincoln Republican Thomas Paolino, agreed to pay a fine of $2,500 to settle with the board. The other senator, Hopkinton Republican Elaine Morgan, agreed to pay a $1,200 fine.

The penalty against Paolino followed an audit of his campaign-finance reports that found a series of irregularities. They included an unreported $10,000 loan repayment and 10 unreported transactions totaling $1,369, as well as various other reporting errors.

In an email, Paolino told 12 News, “The changes to the campaign finance reports have been resolved and accepted to the satisfaction of the Board of Elections.”

An audit of Morgan’s reports similarly found a number of problems. They included spending $2,604 in campaign funds on personal expenses, as well as misreporting some contributions and expenditures in aggregate rather than broken out by individual transaction.

“I take full responsibility for the mistakes that I made in my 2021-2022 campaign finance filings,” Morgan told 12 News in an email. She said some violations related to her accounting of travel expenses related to an award she received from the Conservative Political Action Committee at a convention in Florida.

“While it is not an excuse or deflection, when my husband died in April 2021, I realized I not only lost my best friend and confidante but also the one person who was most organized in my life,” Morgan said, adding, “I have not been nearly as organized as I had been when my husband was involved.”

She went on to say, “I now have all the controls in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

In addition, the Board of Elections said it forwarded the case of a former political candidate — Daryl Gould, a Libertarian who made unsuccessful bids for General Assembly and School Committee — to the attorney general for potential prosecution.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook

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