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Letter: School Committee Should End Relationship with Lawyer

Sean Gatley, a candidate for the Dist. 26 Senate seat, says the School Committee should end its relationship with Ben Scungio for several reasons.

After weeks of candidate Frank Lombardi denying the authenticity of the Cranston School Committee minutes disclosed by the Cranston Herald, his own donor and board Attorney Ben Scungio acknowledged last week that the ethically questionable advice attributed to him was in fact true. (TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT: Cranston Herald 10/17/12) 

On September 5, 2012, the Cranston Herald disclosed that Mr. Scungio advised the Cranston School Committee to appeal the Superior Court's Caruolo decision because "That would get the committee members through the election. If the committee says they will let it stand, they have to live with the lies in the decision. It hurts the committee more politically if they let it sit there." ("DOCS LEAKED: 187 pages of confidential meeting details shared online Cranston Herald,9/5/12).

Gately stated "In his letter to the editor, Mr. Scungio did not deny he made these statements but merely argued they were taken out of context.  The bottom line is this: it is NEVER appropriate to spend taxpayer money in court for political reasons and that is exactly what Mr. Scungio advised the School Committee to do. " 

Not only did Mr Scungio acknowledge that these confidential documents were accurate, but he continued to mislead the public about how much he has donated to Mr. Lombardi's campaign. According to the RI Board of Elections Campaign Finance Division, he in fact donated $400.00 not $150.00 and he failed to disclose that his law partner Mr. Cascione who is currently retained by the School Committee also donated $400.00 to Mr. Lombardi. (www.ricampaignfinance.com)

The fact that Scungio's firm gave political advice while bilking taxpayers for thousands of  dollars for flawed legal work is offensive and representative of the corrupt pay to play mentality that is rampant in RI and in Mr. Lombardi's campaign.

To clear the air, at a minimum, Mr. Lombardi must immediately: 

1.Terminate any School Committee agreements with Mr. Scungio's firm. 

2. Repudiate and disavow the advice that Attorney Scungio gave him to appeal a court decision for political reasons.

3. Donate the multiple contributions that Attorney Scungio's law firm gave to the Lombardi campaign to a good community organization such as the BASICS scholarship fund

Gately went on to say: " This is just another example of my opponent spending taxpayer money, claiming it's to protect children, but in reality it is being used to protect his own political career. This is why the taxpayers have lost faith in our state government. I am running to restore it."

— Sean P. Gately

Robin Lionheart November 06, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Speaking of Frank Lombardi “spending taxpayer money, claiming it’s to protect children”, he’s also one of the board members who wasted $150,000 of taxpayer money defying separation of church and state, and wanted to waste even more on appeal. When Cranston has cancelled music programs, gifted programs, and sports programs, would’ve been nice to not give $150,000 to the ACLU instead. Now you can keep this irresponsible school administrator from rising from wasting the city of Cranston’s funds to wasting the state of Rhode Island’s.

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