When Town Council candidate John Beauregard was running for re-election in 2018, he accepted six $1,000 campaign donations. Mr. Beauregard contended at the time that the six $1,000 contributions were given to him in support of his stance on the infamous Nike resolution which brought negative national attention to our town.
We’re all supposed to believe that six people, impressed by John Beauregard’s resolve to push the Nike resolution, all instantaneously decided to pay tribute to Mr. Beauregard by sending $1,000 contributions for his re-election campaign. Remarkably, all six people were in a financial position to make $1,000 contributions. Maybe I’m out of touch and the majority of those who read this letter have sent such generous donations themselves for similar reasons, but personally I’m not buying that story.
While Mr. Beauregard served as council president, a solar overlay district ordinance was approved by the Town Council at the request of solar energy developer Green Development. The ordinance fast tracked approval and enabled Green Development to swiftly move forward on the controversial solar array. The language in the ordinance limited the authority of the Planning and Zoning Boards. Mr. Beauregard said the ordinance was needed because he was concerned the boards would make the “wrong” decision.
One of the $1,000 donors was a man employed by Bay Crane, a company which does work for Green Development. The young man’s mother-in-law, along with her sister, also donated $1,000 each. The owner of an auto body shop donated $1,000. He lives in a home in Cranston which was previously owned by an employee of Green Development. The last two $1,000 donors were a commercial Realtor and a Providence attorney.
Poor decisions are sometimes dismissed as a “temporary lapse of good judgment,” but it appears to me Mr. Beauregard has a propensity to make poor decisions.
Prior to accepting the $1,000 contributions, he accepted campaign contributions from 11 attorneys, including four who were appointed by the Town Council to do legal work. Three received payments ranging from $900 to roughly $36,000 and the fourth lawyer was our town solicitor who was paid $62,000 in FY2018. Mr. Beauregard claims the attorneys sent donations because they knew him from his previous career. He claimed he was unaware that some were being paid by the town for various legal services even though the Town Council (of which he was a member) approved payment of their bills monthly.
I’m not suggesting Rhode Island has stringent laws which prohibit any of the contributions I discussed.
Unlike other states, Rhode Island doesn’t have “Pay to Play” laws that severely restrict questionable contributions. That said, I do believe that some actions that are legal may not be ethical or appropriate, and we should be electing leaders who know the difference.
It’s unsettling to see some elected town officials defend their friend by pointing out no law was broken and choosing to totally ignore the ethical issues. It makes one wonder.