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RI AG Kilmartin Spent, Fundraised Thousands in Florida

Friday, February 14, 2014


Campaign finance reports show that during the 2010 election season, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin paid over $6,000 to a non-union print shop in Tampa, Florida for campaign signs -- and since taking the AG's office, has received over $6500 in campaign donations from Florida backers.

Last week, State Senator Dawson Hodgson, who is running for the Republican nod to challenge Kilmartin in November, called for the Attorney General to release his out-of-state travel records, and how much time he spent at his second home in Florida.  

The request followed WPRO’s Matt Allen first reporting that Kilmartin was interviewed by a Sarasota, FL ABC affiliate station in mid-January at an arts festival, with the station identifying him as a “Sarasota resident."  Kilmartin resides in Pawtucket, but has property in Sarasota.  

"Voters don't pay much attention to campaign finance reports. I don't know if there's data on this, but I don't know if voters care much at all where the candidates spend their money," said Rhode Island pollster Victor Profughi. "Myself, being a local pollster, I of course care very much about this! I prefer that candidates use local Rhode Islanders, and then they go outside, and pick other pollsters? I give candidates a hard time, all the time, about that, especially when they're talking about keeping jobs in Rhode Island and supporting the local economy."

Rhode Island's unemployment rate is currently 9.1%, which is the highest in the nation.  

Campaign Records Show Florida Ties

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin

Campaign finance reports show that in 2010, Kilmartin paid more than $5500 to Big Daddy Signs in Florida, which on its website is listed as being in Winter Park, but has a location in Tampa Bay, which is what is listed on Kilmartin's reports.  

Record show that the Kilmartin campaign paid the Florida sign company $1,359 on September 2,  $3,417 on September 27, and $844 on October 1.  A representative with Big Daddy said that the company is part of a guild -- and that it is non-union.

Kilmartin advisor Peter Kavanaugh with the Washington and Boston-based Hilltop Public Solutions firm said of the spending, "Attorney General Kilmartin has been a strong proponent of Rhode Island's small businesses throughout his career in public service. The campaign in 2010 primarily utilized Rhode Island-based companies for its printing work, including Sheahan Printing of Woonsocket, Regine Printing of Providence, Northeast Screen Printing in North Kingstown, JB Foley Printing in Providence, Allegra Print & Imaging in Providence, and Mercury Print & Mail in Pawtucket."

Opponent Hodgson said, "I always try to be fair, it's tough for me to be specific on [Kilmartin's] choice of using a Florida vendor. I have always made it a priority to source my materials in-state. My website's a local East Greenwich designer. That's my preference, that's my track record. I have a duty, and he has a duty, to make the best use of his dollars, if he got a better deal with the Florida company."

Hodgson continued, "Of the Florida revelations, it was Matt Allen who first ran with the [Florida TV station] video, and I commented on it. I didn't go down there and put him on the camera. It's politics.  I do think it's appropriate for the Attorney General to explain what he's been doing," said Hodgson. "He's not talking about 38 Studios, the early release of the "Thrill Killer", or standing up for RI consumers."

Earlier this week, Kavanaugh outlined to GoLocal's Victor Alvarez examples of Kilmartin's achievements on campaign platform issues including economic security, protecting public safety, and helping restore public trust in the government

"The only reason I'd care about [Kilmartin's] time out of state is how it pertains to his job performance," said Hodgson.  

Florida Fundraising, Consultant Spending

State Senator Dawson Hodgson

Since taking office in 2010, Kilmartin has reported taking in $6550 in campaign donations from contributors living or employed in Florida. In 2011, Kilmartin reported one $250 donation from Florida; in 2012, records show $950 from the Sunshine State, and in 2013, Florida-based contributions totaled $5350.

Kilmartin currently has $156,052.77 cash on hand; Hodgson has $21,717.83.

While Kilmartin has employed Hilltop Consulting, Hodgson also lists out of state advising -- B-Fresh Consulting in New Hampshire -- as a campaign management expenditure.

"When you bring consultants on board, they have connections, and reputations," said Profughi. "So if your'e trying to get big donors to come on board, it helps to have the right names with a good reputation.

Profughi continued, "I think there's a big difference between that and people who produce signs.  Can you get a better sign produced out of state? Outside consultants are a different story, they bring those things to the table such such as connections, reputation, and fundraising."  


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