Republicans file finance complaint against Jones; Candidate says records prove he had no violation

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The chairwoman of the Rhode Island Republican Party has filed a complaint with the state Board of Elections alleging that Paul Jones failed to properly account for expenses in his recent campaign finance reports.

But Jones, a North Smithfield resident who challenged Rep. Brian Newberry for his District 48 seat, says he has records that prove otherwise.

In a letter to BoE Campaign Finance Director Richard Thornton, Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki points to activities in the recent campaign, including Facebook ads, mailers and information published by Mark Berger of public relations firm Berg’s Eye Communications.

“Mr. Berger took out advertisements in a circular called ‘Shop in RI,’ a magazine which provides paid advertising opportunities for participating businesses,” Cienki noted.

According to the letter, Jones also, “sent a four page letter to households in the district via First Class mail, and no such costs are reported on candidate’s subsequent finance reports,” as well as a two-page full color mailer.

“This omission is in violation of campaign finance laws,” Cienki wrote.

Newberry, a Republican who has held the seat representing North Smithfield and Burrillville since 2008, ultimately defeated his Democratic challenger by a vote of 3,634 to 2,045.

“I did better than anybody thought that I was going to,” Jones told NRI NOW this week of the loss, noting he’s already announced plans to run again in 2024. “They want me gone.”

Jones said he is in the process of compiling a response to the complaint and called the allegation “silly.” The two mailers, Jones said, were designed by Checkmate Consulting Group, LLC, and the bill was not received until November 6 – well past the BoE’s November 1 reporting date. Jones shared a copy of the $8,324 invoice dated November 3. The expense, he said, will be properly filed on his next campaign finance report, which is not due until 28 days after the election, as required.

Jones noted that Berger, whose firm does work for his business The Care Concierge, contacted him asking for participation in a Shop in RI story after a previously-scheduled piece for the magazine fell through. He noted his response to the BoE will include a statement from the public relations firm verifying that the published information and other social media activity by Berger were not a paid campaign activity.

“It’s dirty politics from the Republicans,” Jones said. “I am in the right and I have the proof.”

While the state governing board has yet to weigh in, it seems the post-election political conflict will continue for now. In a press release Thursday, Nov. 10, Cienki outlined the allegations amid references to “dark money,” and undisclosed campaign funding – although no incidents regarding contributions are cited in the complaint.

“Jones is a high ranking Democratic Party leader,” Cienki wrote. “This is not simply one mistake, but a pattern of hiding or failing to report in kind contributions and/or expenditures. He obviously didn’t raise much money himself yet his campaign spent thousands. It smacks of dark money being funneled by outside organizations in an attempt to buy an election.”

Editor’s note: The above article originally stated that Newberry had a hiatus from public office between 2011 and 2016 – when he was actually serving as minority leader. We apologize for the error.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. Weird how Paul Jones had an answer for everything but the improperly reported Facebook ads, and then suddenly today he deleted his Facebook profile.

    Pro trip Paulie, deleting your FB profile doesn’t delete the FB Ad account activity.

      • Looks like you aren’t very conserved with type emotions today JP. You are lashing out at everyone, do you need to talk with someone today? Are you okay?

        • So you believe in ?
          – open borders
          – defunding the police
          – abortion without any restrictions
          – allowing minors below 16 to undergo sexual gender trans surgery
          – socialistic economic policies

          A simple yes or no to each would suffice Mr. proud progressive

          And my name is JP

          • Things we already have…
            Our boarders are very open between states.
            The police department in town asked for a new officer, but they got denied by the town council (close enough to defeunding them).
            Abortion is codified and that would be very difficult to get rid of.
            Social security, and other items are socialistic economic policies in place currently since whenever it went into effect.

  2. Just not buying the Shop in RI explanation. Mark Berger has been writing for them for years, and advertising in that magazine is expensive. The piece ran in the October issue, and that means it fell within the reporting period. In kind contributions must still be reported. Nothing is free in politics!

  3. If Jones is a high ranking Democrat official I like the direction the Democrats are headed. If you think losing by 1600 votes is better than anyone thought you would do you must have stuffed the mail in ballots with the poor elderly suffering in your nursing home.
    Remember one thing Paul you lost because that what losers do.

    • I am sooo tired of the corruption in politics. The fact that in PA they voted for a democrat in office that died a month ago says it all. People do ZERO research and have no idea who they are voting for when it comes to the Democratic party. You just check down the line. Wake up people and take a closer look at the people you’re voting for. It’s not about a party but the person.

      • Funny how you direct this at democrats. Maybe watch factual news when you do research. The fact that people voted for Walker and Boebert at all is an embarrassment to our country and again we continue to be laughed at by the rest of the world. I’d rather vote for a deceased person than either of those two.

  4. Anybody that looks at this guy and thinks anything other than creep should get their head checked. Listen to him talk for more than 5 minutes and you will begin to feel extremely uncomfortable.

    No surprise here for someone so unlikeable to have to succumb to cheating.

      • John B – fined for filing reports late

        Paul J – is showing evidence of not reporting expenses, taking in kind contributions from a paid business (which is against campaign finance rules) Lets see where the miraculous $8,600 comes from on the next campaign finance report to pay for these mailers !! Pretty sure he didn’t have that in cash reserves on the last filing. I’m sure so many people lined up to give him $8,600 between 11/1-11/9.

        Maybe that’s why he was approaching & hugging people at the polls. Shaking them down for $$$

        Yes please run again in ‘24!!! You’re doing a great job and the people of NRI love you !!

        BM – big difference between negligence and cheating here bud.

        • He was at the polls 2 years ago within the 50 ft radius handing out hand sanitizer with his name on it before people voted, allowed an ally member of his council to wear campaign stickers inside town hall when people were voting and didn’t condemn that person. Allows the Town Administrator to still be in office because they’re buddies and wants to make sure his stuff gets approved. Yes, I’d say that’s cheating, but I’m just a resident who doesn’t belong in the town, so what do I know…

          • Could you please produce the filings and report around those accusations as well as what those findings were from the board of elections?

            At least you do know where you stand….

            • First hand accounts, he threw a big fit when the police had to move him to the 50ft radius. As for the town council member campaign stickers, also first hand account, they were angry when they had to remove their sticker. Didn’t feel like getting the BoE involved, but I guess I should’ve. If it’s an easy fix, I won’t get the BoE involved, if it’s something worse yes I would. Granted what I think should be reported to the BoE is less than what others may think should be, and they have that right to do so.

              • Is this a coherent thought??

                It’s the most passive / aggressive contradiction of nonsense I’ve ever read.

                What are you even trying to say ??

                #makeitmakesense

                • I’ll try harder to help you understand it. Johnny B Bad at math radii, was inside 50ft radius handing out hand sanitizer. Easy fix, he got removed by police to outside 50ft radius.
                  Council campaign sticker being worn on council member, inside the voting area during early voting hours. Easy fix, it got thrown out and they were huffing and puffing as they were leaving. Unsure if they went back in and sat down and attached new sticker.
                  Didn’t think I needed to get BoE involved as both incidences were easy fixes. Some people file complaints at the slightest issue, I did not do that.
                  I will however hold that on my back pocket and use it against them because they were given a free pass by me, and if they screw up in future things the laundry list of bad things they’ve done gets spewed into the public. I.E. these instances.

    • Anyone who has seen you speak at school committee meetings would know you love making people feel intimidated and uncomfortable. You are a bully. Nothing more. Do something positive for this town if you really care. Stop complaining. Your whole act is tiring.

  5. Really??? Republicans should be ridiculously ashamed of themselves for pursuing this! Bet there are Republicans that did same things! Is Newberry having RI Republican Party do this?

    • Seriously ??? You don’t think both parties audit each other’s candidates to keep each other in check ??? You can’t be serious right ? What’s there to be ashamed of ? Ensuring someone follows the rules ??

      Typical progressive reply based upon name calling and emotion snubbing anyone who tries to hold them accountable vs focusing on the issue at hand!!

      Notice I didn’t say democrat!! Even true democrats don’t like this progressive cancerous movement from within. Paul Jones could be patient 0 of the progressive pandemic !!!

    • David, are you saying that these campaign finance violations shouldn’t be investigated just because the R’s made the complaint?

      If one D is a cheating liar and he faces a different D in a primary, wouldn’t knowing that there is a history of scandal with one candidate make a difference to you?

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