Regunberg top fundraiser remaining in race for Congress; Matos spent most

AARON REGUNBERG, right, has raised the most of the remaining candidates in the congressional race, while Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, left, has spent the most on her campaign. / COURTESY SABINA MATOS AND AARON REGUNBERG
AARON REGUNBERG, right, has raised the most of the remaining candidates in the congressional race, while Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, left, has spent the most on her campaign. / COURTESY SABINA MATOS AND AARON REGUNBERG

PROVIDENCE – Aaron Regunberg is the top fundraiser of all the remaining candidates seeking the 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House, while Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos has spent the most with just days remaining before the primary election next week.

Twelve candidates looking to replace David N. Cicilline in Congress on Aug. 24 filed their last campaign finance reports with the U.S. Federal Election Commission, showing what they raised and what they spent, before voters in the 1st Congressional District take to the polls on Sept. 5. However, Don Carlson, who reported having $969,541 in receipts – $600,000 being a personal loan – and spent $703,866 on his campaign, is now out of the race.

Now, Regunberg, a Democrat who is a former Providence state representative and past lieutenant governor candidate, has brought in $629,821 in receipts as of Aug. 16. He also has the most remaining cash on hand of all the candidates at $191,265 after spending $438,556 on his campaign to date.

Regunberg is one of two candidates who has raised more than $600,000 for their campaigns. Fellow Democratic candidate Gabe Amo, a former White House aide, raised $604,407 so far.

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But questions have swirled around Regunberg’s campaign and how it’s being financed. Matos’ campaign – mired in its own controversy over alleged fraudulent signatures – filed Aug. 18 a complaint with the FEC where Matos’ camp alleges Progress Rhode Island, a super political action committee funded by Regunberg’s mother and father in-law, received two reported contributions from Erica Preiss Regunberg and James Cielinski on June 13 and June 15, respectively, totaling $130,000. Cielinski alone contributed $125,000, which, according to the complaint, is greater than the $5,000 limit a candidate or campaign can solicit on behalf of a super PAC.

Regunberg denied the allegations, calling it “a ridiculous and unserious attack from a desperate candidate whose campaign has been dogged by ethical questions and is currently under criminal investigation.”

Matos, thus far, has brought in $578,973 for her congressional campaign and spent $452,718, the highest spending amount of the race’s remaining candidates. Amo spent $449,164 up to this point.

Sen. Sandra Cano, D-Pawtucket – who received Carlson’s endorsement after he bowed out Aug. 27 – raised $307,353 for her campaign and spent $247,796. Providence city councilor John Goncalves has brought in $190,264 as of Aug. 16 and spent most of it – $164,644 – so far.

Democratic candidate Walter Berbrick has $50,480 left in his campaign account after bringing in $183,456 in receipts and spent $132,976.

Regunberg, Amo and Matos are the only Democratic candidates in the race who have more than $100,000 remaining cash on hand in their respective election accounts.

Gerry W. Leonard Jr., who has the Rhode Island Republican Party’s congressional endorsement, has brought in $122,221 in total receipts as of Aug. 16. But he has only spent $11,139 on his campaign to date, leaving him with $111,082 in cash on hand.

Leonard’s primary opponent, former Middletown town councilor Terri Flynn, does not have a campaign finance report filed with the FEC, according to the commission’s online portal.

Other candidates’ financial profiles are:

  • Sen. Ana B. Quezada, D-Providence: $87,255 raised, $57,870 spent
  • Rep. Stephen M. Casey, D-Woonsocket: $87,008 raised, $48,647 spent
  • Spencer Dickenson (Democrat): $34,200 raised, $15,623 spent
  • Stephanie Beaute (Democrat): $16,201 raised, $11,144 spent
  • Allan Waters (Democrat): No report

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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