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Lenny Cioe: Senate President busy campaigning, not helping Rhode Islanders

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All of our elected representatives should be dedicating their time and energy to taking care of Rhode Islanders, in or out of a hospital – not serving their own interests and campaign needs.


Last week, my opponent Dominick Ruggerio apparently violated Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s stay-at-home order to open his campaign headquarters, while refusing to reconvene the Senate to provide relief to Rhode Island workers and small businesses. It’s insulting to me, to other nurses, to grocery workers, to volunteers, and to everyone working hard to help others in these times, that Ruggerio is pretending that he can’t do anything to help us. In reality, he can – he just wants to campaign instead.

My coworkers and I spent the end of March training to treat COVID-19 patients. We’ve been treating the patients who are able to heal and go back home. We’ve been caring for the nursing home residents who have been displaced, and who cannot have their families around. We’ve been comforting those who are unable to fight the virus. I’m doing everything I can to ease the suffering of Rhode Islanders at this time.

Meanwhile, Ruggerio has proven over the last month that he is more interested in serving his personal needs than those of his constituents. In a March 23 email to his fellow senators, Ruggerio acknowledged that “‘it would be hard to overstate the severity of the challenge we face’ as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” Less than one week later on March 29, the Providence Journal reported that “Ruggerio has been dog-sitting for his daughter,” rather than convening the General Assembly to address those financial challenges.

At the same time he’s keeping the Senate from meeting, Ruggerio has been focusing on his campaign for re-election. On April 12, Ruggerio said via email that “there will be an appropriate time to talk about campaigns and politics,” but that he is focusing on helping his constituents and flattening the curve instead. However, on May 1 he tweeted a photograph of a meeting between Senator McCaffrey, and Senator Goodwin, and himself in his campaign headquarters. This, despite the fact that the General Assembly continues to not meet. Despite the fact that, as reported yesterday in the Providence Journal, Ruggerio wants to delay a supplemental budget bill until the fall. Despite the fact that the stay-at-home order is in place for another week.

There is a huge amount of suffering going on in Rhode Island right now. Nursing homes are going into receivership. Unemployed people have no healthcare, and are afraid of the outstanding cost of medical care in our state. Tenants are unable to pay their rent, and homeowners their mortgage. Hospitals are losing money and laying off non-essential staff. Amid this suffering, Ruggerio is carrying on with business as usual. He has the power to take care of Rhode Islanders through this crisis, but instead focuses on himself and his campaign. All of our elected representatives should be dedicating their time and energy to taking care of Rhode Islanders, in or out of a hospital – not serving their own interests and campaign needs.