Few interest groups have been more generous to Rhode Island lawmakers than the firefighters’ lobby, which is pushing controversial overtime legislation up for a House vote on Tuesday, in a state that regularly tops the national charts on the cost of fire protection.
Since 2007, the R.I. State Association of Firefighters has logged more than $290,413 on political spending, with most of that money going to help state lawmakers win reelection and ward off challengers.
In the 2017-18 election cycle alone, the association represented at the State House by Cranston fire union president Paul Valletta spent $35,364, with most of that money going to Democratic legislators.
And that is just one group.
In the last two-year election cycle, other firefighter-affiliated PACs spent $94,230. Most of that went to state lawmakers, though in some communities — such as Providence and East Greenwich, where firefighter PACs spent $28,250 and $13,925 respectively — some of the money also reached state, local and in the case of U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, federal candidates.