Rizzo-Rotondo controversy continues – Will the Ethics Commission sort it out?

A week after fantastic ethical allegations were made against Councillor George Rotondo, now there are questions about whether or not the allegations were manufactured by Councillor Dan Rizzo’s campaign or someone associated with it.

Rizzo vehemently denied those allegations this week, saying that the allegations were real and were real concerns of local business owners and even the State Ethics Commission.

Rotondo, in response to last week’s article, said he wouldn’t address the issue and also said he is ready to move on to real issues.

“I refuse to address lies, fabrications or gutter politics,” he said in a written statement. “My candidacy is about the people and focusing on the people’s needs.”

The State Ethics Commission would not comment on whether there is any complaint on the matter.

“We have strict confidentiality requirements imposed on us by state statute,” said David Giannotti of the Commission. “That’s why we won’t confirm or deny whether we have received any complaints or have begun any investigation.”

The idea that the allegations might have been fabricated originated when it was disclosed that it was Rizzo who originally initiated police involvement two weeks ago after knowing of the allegations for more than two months.

Police Chief Terence Reardon said that Rizzo did approach him first on Thursday, October 14, and then brokered a meeting with the chief and a few local businessmen.

“He did [approach me],” said the chief. “He came in and had with him a few business owners and they relayed the story. We looked into it and there was no crime in the picture so the RPD is no longer interested.”

A police report issued by Reardon on Monday, October 18, substantiates that Rizzo apparently contacted the chief, saying that he was called on August 8 by an unnamed source that disclosed allegations that Rotondo offered the source money in a meeting at Luberto’s Bakery in exchange for taking pictures of Rizzo drinking and then taking additional pictures of Rizzo getting into a vehicle.

That unnamed source, apparently, was a local bartender.

Reardon said that he discussed the matter with the bartender and the stories matched up.

However, after further discussion with the state Attorney General’s office, the matter was dropped. There was no investigation mounted by local police.

“I was there, I did go to the police,” said Rizzo. “I definitely was in a meeting with the police, but it was really at the request of a few of the establishment owners in the city. It was brought to one of the owner’s attention these things were being talked about concerning his establishment…That this is all smoke and mirrors is an understatement. This guy would not lie. He was panicked. I couldn’t talk about it for a couple of months, I didn’t say anything about it, and then he couldn’t take it anymore. This isn’t the kind of guy who would fabricate something…I’m not looking for headlines…It might not be a crime here according to the newspapers, but it’s certainly not ethical.”

Rizzo indicated that he did not feel comfortable revealing whom the source of the complaint was, and information regarding that source was not made public in the police report. Rizzo did say that the source is not an active supporter or part of his campaign.

Rizzo also indicated that he might not be the only one who thinks that something might have transpired.

He also said that there is no way he fabricated the issue.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. “I’ve been running in politics the last six elections. Colleagues of mine would tell you that’s not my M.O…Manufacturing something like this, that’s just not my style. If I was considered an underdog or desperate enough, I could see someone thinking that. I don’t feel that at all. We have very good energy right now I feel. I don’t need to go talk to a bartender and ask him to fabricate a story for me.”

He said he felt that an investigation by the State Ethics Commission would clear up his side of the matter.

“I’m 100 percent certain the State Ethics Commission will investigate and we’ll see what their conclusion is…We’ll see where it goes. I don’t think the Ethics Commission would be getting involved if this is something that didn’t happen and I don’t think these establishment owners would be as upset as they are…I’d like to see George Rotondo in the same room and look [this guy] in the face and say it didn’t happen.”

In response, Rotondo said he wanted to focus on issues, and he outlined several things he’s ready to talk about.

“The people want to feel safe on Broadway at night,” he said. “They want solutions to abandoned properties that bring down the value of their homes and decrease the quality of life in their neighborhood. The people want Revere’s children to have the tools and resources to meet the challenges of this century to prepare them for an ever-changing world. As a community we need to work collectively and support the use of technology in the classroom with laptops and continue to provide the tools and digital learning platforms such as the Waterford Early Learning and SuccessMaker systems to help our brightest and most needy children succeed. Our children and seniors deserve solutions to problems in these troubling times, not mud.”

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