July 24, 2024

R.I. CPA Society president fined for campaign finance violations

The head of the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants (RISCPA) has been fined for a pile of missing campaign finance reports, along with unreported donations and spending by the group’s political action committee, according to a consent order approved by the Rhode Island Board of Elections on Tuesday.

Melissa Travis, president of RISCPA, will pay a $1,000 personal penalty for campaign finance violations, although the amount may be reduced to $500 if she meets upcoming reporting deadlines and agrees to forfeit $1,000 in previously unreported donations. The consent order comes after an audit of RISCPA’s PAC, of which Travis is the chairwoman, which detailed a pattern of missed deadlines, unreported donations and spending from January 2021 to July 2023.

Among them: seven missing campaign finance reports, typically due quarterly with extra deadlines before and after elections; $3,800 in unreported individual donations; and $4,257 in unreported campaign spending, including 22 donations to political candidates. One political candidate received $1,050 in donations from the PAC in 2022, which exceeds the $1,000 limit in state law.

The audit also uncovered $164 in receipts from unknown sources that were unreported.

Travis did not return calls for comment Tuesday night. However, the consent order includes a response from the organization blaming the violations on the “misconduct” of an unidentified individual assigned to file campaign finance reports. Travis had “reduced oversight of the individual due to illness,” the written response stated.

That individual no longer has access to the political action committee’s campaign finance account, and the PAC has hired someone new to oversee its campaign finance reporting.

Travis has 30 days to forfeit $1,164 from the PAC’s campaign account for unreported donations and receipts from unknown sources; she must pay the $500 fine within 90 days. Failure to pay the penalty within 10 days of the agreed-upon deadline will add another $500 to the fine, according to the consent order.

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