A chaotic campaign helped save Rhode Island’s House speaker in 2016. Now it threatens to end his political career

“I used to joke with people, ‘Are you sure you want to be seen with me? Because the speaker could be watching.’” Frias recalled in an interview last week.

Turns out, even that was true.

Last week’s criminal trial of former Mattiello campaign consultant Jeffrey T. Britt was meant to determine whether Britt laundered $1,000 to help pay for a postcard mailer designed to boost Mattiello during that 2016 campaign. But it also offered a rare glimpse into the win-at-all-costs culture of politics, as witness after witness detailed the strategies employed to help defeat Frias.

Those tactics included surveillance conducted on Frias by a semi-retired private investigator who was seeking a state job, a mail-ballot operation run by a veteran operative who had previous tours of political duty with some of the state’s most corrupt politicians, and the mailer that Britt orchestrated to try to convince a handful of Republicans to back the Democrat in the race.

In the end, Mattiello won the race by 85 votes, a razor-thin margin where almost any maneuver could have tipped the scales in the speaker’s favor.

Now, with early voting scheduled to begin Wednesday, Mattiello’s back is against the wall again as he faces a serious challenge from Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the Republican wife of Cranston’s popular mayor, who is eager to capitalize on the seedy details that came out during last week’s trial.

But Mattiello, who was never charged, testified that he knew nothing about the controversial mailer until it hit mailboxes in his district, and a key campaign aide described the mailer as “Jeff Britt’s project.”

The judge has said he won’t issue a ruling for five to seven weeks. So that means voters will render their decision first, in the Nov. 3 general election.

“I think it clearly crossed a line,” Providence College political science professor Adam Myers said of Mattiello’s campaign operation in 2016. “But the question is whether the public’s opinion of Rhode Island politics is already so jaded that coverage of the trial won’t change any minds.”

* * *

If it’s possible for the most powerful politician in the state to be an underdog in his own backyard, hindsight suggests that’s where Mattiello – the man whose rock-solid support within the Rhode Island House of Representatives gives him almost dictatorial power over any piece of legislation – was sitting four years ago.

House District 15 includes fewer than 11,000 registered voters, the majority of whom are unaffiliated but are considered far more conservative than residents of the rest of Cranston and almost every other city in the state. Mattiello frequently draws criticism from more liberal members of his party, but his political values – pro-business, pro-life, pro-National Rifle Association – are largely in line with the voters who have sent him back to the State House every two years since 2007.

But in 2016, simply being a conservative Democrat wasn’t going to be enough to guarantee Mattiello a victory. Cranston’s Republican Mayor, Allan W. Fung,

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President Obama’s White House photographer breaks down his photojournalism career (video)

Pete Souza, American photojournalist and former Chief Official White House Photographer for U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, takes us through his illustrious career. From capturing Reagan’s reaction to Space Shuttle Challenger’s explosion to photographing President Obama’s Cabinet in the situation room during the raid on Bin Laden, Pete breaks down some of his most iconic images. ‘The Way I See It’ is in theaters now and will be broadcasted on MSNBC beginning this Friday, October 16th. See the complete video here.

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Learn How Interior Designer Kristin Corley Revamped Her Career With an Executive MBA.

Kristin Corley, Auburn Executive MBA, Class of 2008. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

For working professionals wanting to boost their careers, an executive MBA allows you to learn valuable business skills without interrupting your career or personal life. Just ask Kristin Corley, a local professional who transformed her interior design career with the skills and knowledge earned through the Auburn Executive MBA program.

What is an Executive MBA?

Photo via Auburn Harbert School of Business on Facebook

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is designed to help graduates better understand the ways a business functions. An MBA is an incredibly versatile degree that gives you the knowledge and confidence to make information based, budget-related decisions regardless of job title or business model. 

But for many working professionals, an MBA—with its two-year, full-time class schedule—simply isn’t feasible. That’s where an Executive MBA shines.

Tailored to professionals with eight or more years of progressive experience, the Auburn Executive MBA program utilizes the significant knowledge and experience of students to ground business principles and theory with examples of real-world application. The program blends intensive residencies with distance courses for the best of both worlds—classroom instruction that provides interaction with faculty and peers and online learning that offers the flexibility to balance career, family and rigorous education. This delivery model binds students into a tight-knit cohort that later becomes a professional network offering benefits long after graduation. 

Kristin Corley, 2008 Auburn EMBA graduate

Kristin outside her office at BL Harbert International. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

To learn more about Auburn’s EMBA program, we spoke with alumnus Kristin Corley, Class of 2008. Prior to pursuing an EMBA, Kristin graduated from Auburn with a degree in interior design. After working several years in a local firm, Kristin realized that expanding her understanding of business strategy and finance would be helpful in her career. So she began looking for a program that could help fill that gap in her skill set.

For Kristin, the Auburn EMBA program checked all the boxes. At the time, she was balancing her work schedule and taking care of her four-year-old, so a traditional program was out of the question.

How did the Auburn EMBA fit in with your work schedule?

Kristin: “Auburn’s EMBA program is perfectly tailored for people in my situation—working professionals that don’t have the time capacity for standard classes. That flexibility allowed me to work on class projects on Saturday mornings, rather than trying to find time to be in a classroom each day. And since the program is online, it didn’t require students to be in the area. In fact, I believe only three people in my class actually lived in Alabama.”

Kristin Corley in her office at BL Harbert International. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

For Kristin, one of her most valuable takeaways was the improvement of her communication skills. The Auburn EMBA taught Kristin how to

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Garden Rescue: Charlie Dimmock looks unrecognisable in throwback to early career


Francesca Shillcock




Charlie Dimmock has been a regular on our TV screens for many years, but nowadays you can find the presenter and garden expert alongside Harry and David Rich (AKA The Rich Brothers) on hugely popular BBC show, Garden Rescue. After the new series was halted due to coronavirus, fans are hoping that the garedening programme will be back on screens as soon as possible.

MORE: All you need to know about Garden Rescue star Charlie Dimmock’s love life

But back in the day, Charlie was best-known for appearing on another popular garden show. The 53-year-old began her career back in 1997 when she first appeared alongside Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh on Ground Force

charlie-with-plants-

Charlie has been a household name for a number of years

The programme ran for eight years before it came to an end, making Alan, Tommy and Charlie household names. Here’s a throwback to Charlie’s early career and what the presenter looked like then and now…

MORE: Garden Rescue star Charlie Dimmock’s secret heartache

charlie-dimmock-and-alan

Charlie was known for her work on Ground Force

Charlie Dimmock then: early TV career

After studying horticulture and training at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Charlie landed her gig on Ground Force alongside fellow hosts Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh. Charlie became somewhat of a heartthrob on the show. However the presenter admitted her new found fame was something she admitted she didn’t expect to happen.

charlie-dimmock-early-career

The presenter pictured in her early career

Speaking in 2014, Charlie said: “It was all very silly. I remember Esther Rantzen said to me, ‘You’ll be referred to as the bra-less one for the rest of your life.'” She added: “People still comment on it to me. Some of them are male fans, some of them are female.”

Charlie Dimmock now: Garden Rescue

In July 2016, Charlie began presenting new gardening show Garden Rescue. For those unfamiliar with the format, presenters Charlie, Harry and David compete against each other to design a garden for a member of the public.

garden-rescue

Nowadays, Charlie stars on Garden Rescue

Whoever the guest chooses then gets to create the dream outdoor space. The show has proved hugely popular with viewers and has aired weekdays on BBC for over four years.

Charlie Dimmock personal life

Although Charlie is reportedly currently single, the presenter has had her brush with romance in the past. During the early nineties she met viticulturist John Mushet, with whom she settled down upon returning home.

charlie-dimmock-past-love

Although John referred to her as “the missus” during their relationship, the pair were never married and split in 2001 after Charlie had a fling with Ground Force microphone operator Andy Simmons.

On the prospects of love in the future, Charlie told the Daily Mail: “I’m too old now, certainly too old for marriage,

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