“Buddy” Cianci, named by his friends after Nutty Buddy ice cream cones, became an assistant to the Attorney General and then ran for mayor of Providence as a Republican on an anti-corruption campaign. In college he had already pulled a gun on a woman and then intimidated the woman out of testifying against him. He settled that case for $3,000. He practically bankrupted the city. Many of his cronies went to jail in the first racketeering trial, but he beat the rap. Then came the torture issue. An ex-attorney general walked in on Buddy’s house for a dinner date and found Buddy, a businessman named Raymond DeLeo, the city’s public works director and an on-duty cop. DeLeo was tied to a chair. The trio had kidnapped DeLeo off the streets, tied him up and tried things like cigarettes and a fireplace log on him. This was all about DeLeo’s relationship with Buddy’s wife, not that Buddy reputedly wasn’t also cheating. The AG took Buddy into the bedroom and talked him into letting DeLeo go – Buddy may have bargained for no jail time. Buddy pled guilty to simple assault and the cop and public works director got nothing for the torture. After the conviction and an hour before the city council met in emergency session, Buddy resigned.
Buddy spent five years on probation as a radio talk show host. Then he ran for office again. Legally, if he had served one day of his felony conviction in jail he couldn’t run for office in his lifetime.
This time the Republicans wouldn’t have him, which in Democratic Rhode Island is saying something. Buddy squeaked through with 35% of the popular vote. Part of his strategy was to challenge every write-in vote that he knew (by telephone poll) wasn’t his vote.
Again, he nearly bankrupted the city. His associates went to jail on racketeering charges. Buddy was convicted under the John Gotti law, racketeering conspiracy, and this time he got 5 years 4 months in a federal pen in New Jersey. He resigned again. By the way, that law preventing him from ever running again mysteriously was voted away by the Rhode Island state legislature.
Buddy got out of the joint and immediately got a job as a local talk radio host, branching also into television news commentator work. He ran for mayor again in 2014. This time the Republican candidate campaigned with the theme, “don’t vote for me because Buddy will get back in again”. The Democrat won by 6 percentage points.
We were, for some strange reason, listening to the Buddy Cianci show an hour ago today.