Long current on financial reporting
Rep. Bruce Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown) has maintained a perfect record of filing mandatory campaign finance reports in his 27-year career as a state legislator, according to the State Board of Elections. The status of his record was raised by two Middletown Democrats who attacked him for filing an incomplete finance report for the period that ended June 30.
Richard Thornton, director of campaign finance for the state Board of Elections, said Monday that Long's record of filings show no violations and no fines assessed for failure to file. Thornton reported that his office is sending out 90 second notices of non-compliance by legislators who failed to file quarterly reports for the period ended June 30. He said about 125 received first notices for not filing on time.
Thornton said the number who did not file is about average among the 900 persons who are required to file as candidates or political action committee members. He said each of the non-compliant parties must pay a mandatory $25 fine for the first notice.
When Long filed his most recent required report, he advised the state board that he was reconstructing the back-up data and would be submitting a supplemental report. The legislator reported that he raised $10,350 in contributions for the three-month period ending June 30, but he did not submit a full list of names of contributors until late August.
Thornton said the partial report submitted met standards for filing, and the supplemental statement was accepted as completing the report, within guidelines his office must follow.
Middletown Democrats Eileen Spillane and Richard Adams filed a complaint in early August with the state board about Long's "neglecting to publicly list his contributors." They also announced their complaint to the press and their criticisms were reported in one or more newspapers. The two Democrats not only questioned the incompleteness of the quarterly report, but also the donor sources and non-district residences of Long's contributors. They challenged his fund-raiser when an election campaign was not in progress and they questioned his residency and his commitment to seek another term in the 2008 election.
Spillane ran unsuccessfully in the last two elections for the Middletown senate seat held by Republican June R. Gibbs. She said Long, as a 14-term Republican lawmaker, should know how to file complete campaign finance reports. Spillane questioned the amount of money raised. She has written several internet "blog" articles about Long and his personal and business problems. She complained his legislative district gave him a "free ride" by letting him run unopposed in the last election despite allegations she wrote about him before last year's election.
Long said that he received donations at a fund-raiser during the last quarter, but misplaced his file with copies of contributors' checks. He soon found the data, he noted, but had already ordered copies from his bank to file his amended report. "I have filed every one of my reports on time and completely," Long said. "I did not have the information, so I reported what I did have for this quarter."
Long raised more than other Newport County legislators reporting for the period from April 1 to June 30, including Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Jamestown, Newport) who raised $5,150.
Long's report listed an accumulated balance of $45,955 after expenses for media ads, postage, travel costs and donations to district organizations, among other expenses. Spillane raised questions about Long's deductions for mailings and for bridge toll costs, questioning whether those items were legislative items or expenses for his business. Long said he has separate records for his legislative work and for his own business. He has owned a franchise for Del's Frozen Lemonade for many years. Long was repairing a lemonade machine when he stopped for this interview about his legislative status.
Long said his growing campaign account is not indicative of fears of facing competition in the November 2008 election, as suggested by Spillane. He ran unopposed in 2006. He said he wants to be able to focus on issues and not fund-raising if he does run for another term.
Long recently remarried and his wife, Jane, lives in Westerly, where her teen daughter attends school. Long continues to live and work in Middletown, where his franchise for all of Newport County is based. He said he and Jane have yet to decide where they will establish joint residency and if he will seek another House term. He said he and Jane have begun looking at homes, including in his legislative district.
Spillane started public scrutiny of Long's finances, personal and political, after he and his former wife, Valerie, divorced in 2004. She wrote that Long was in trouble with support payments and federal tax returns. Long said at that time some reports were inaccurate, and whatever issues existed had been settled. Long said there had been some issues and mistakes, but he has worked to correct them.
Long was first elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1980, and is the longest serving member and currently the deputy minority whip. He has been representing Jamestown for three terms, since the district composition was last changed to include Conanicut Island with part of Middletown.
Long said he continues to actively serve his district. He noted that he attends most meetings of the Jamestown Town Council, where he presents on-going reports about state legislative action affecting the community. He also works with, and often spearheads, committees to work on local issues.
Long has helped to coordinate much district work with Jamestown's state senator and some of their efforts have become pilot projects with applications elsewhere in the state, such as local concerns about groundwater regulations.
"I am doing all the things you need your legislator to do. I want to be a good representative. It is still the first year of the current two-year term. It is too early for anyone to be announcing or committing candidacy for 2008. I enjoy representing Jamestown. It is hard work, but for the hundreds, for the thousands I serve here, will continue to do the hard work. When anyone here has a problem, they know they can contact me and they do call me. I am in town almost every day," Long said.