PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci said on Monday he doesn't have much to do with management of a charity that bears his name and which an opponent in the mayor's race calls "badly mismanaged."
Cianci, an independent who was forced to resign from office twice due to felony convictions, made the comments about the Vincent A. Cianci Jr. Scholarship Fund during a news conference he held to release a series of ideas on how to redevelop the city's South Side. He faces Democrat Jorge Elorza and Republican Dan Harrop in the Nov. 4 election.
The Associated Press has reported previously the scholarship fund has amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars but gives out just a few thousand per year in grants and most of its spending is on expenses other than scholarships. Since 2008, the charity has spent no more than 2.7 percent of its assets annually on scholarships. Its non-scholarship spending includes salary, phone bills and investment expenses.
On Monday, Harrop said the problems at the charity were evidence of Cianci's incompetence in managing financial issues, and show that Cianci does not surround himself with competent advisers.
"This is the one public trust he has left. It's badly mismanaged," Harrop told the AP.
When asked if he has a "hands-on or hands-off relationship" with the foundation, Cianci said that guidance counselors pick the scholarship winners, and that a financial adviser with Wells Fargo Advisors manages the fund.
"I don't have very much to do with the management of it at all," Cianci said.
Cianci is a member of the charity's board. He also is a board member of a for-profit company, Capital Innovations, that sells the Mayor's Own Marinara Sauce. The sauce sells itself as benefiting school children, but in recent years, no money from its sales have gone to the charity.
When asked about Harrop's criticism that the problems at the charity pointed to a lack of leadership on Cianci's part, Cianci replied that Harrop was one of a group of millionaires trying to stop him from being mayor.
"Because you see, this is a whole plot to get me, to make sure I am not elected mayor," Cianci said.
Harrop replied that the "plot" was an election.
Cianci is running for a mayor for a seventh time. He was sent to prison in 2002 for racketeering conspiracy for overseeing widespread corruption at City Hall, something he says he did not do.
All content copyright ©2014 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.