Democrat Helder Cunha is a resident and former deputy mayor of East Providence. His General Assembly campaign and early tenure were marred by several different issues concerning his time running and owning the Cambridge Capital Group, a futures trading company no longer in operation. In November 2015, David Prescott, a former employee of Cambridge Capital, pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud, and was sentenced to 19 months in federal prison and fined $505,619 for defrauding investors. Cunha claimed he had run a background check on Prescott and found nothing. However, the regulatory body for futures trading, the National Futures Association (NFA), found that neither Cunha nor Cambridge tried to register Prescott with them. In addition, the NFA received multiple complaints about Cunha and Cambridge Capital, leading the organization to bar Cunha from futures trading for five years.
The Rhode Island Ethics Commission is also investigating Cunha for his failure to include Cambridge Capital as a source of income on financial disclosure statements. The complaint that spurred the investigation was filed by East Providence Mayor Thomas Rose.
Aside from the issues surrounding his involvement with Cambridge Capital, Cunha has focused mostly on economics. He wants to increase fiscal responsibility in the state, stop tax hikes, increase school funding, and decrease utility costs. He also believes Rhode Island has too many taxes and regulations for small businesses and wants to cut down on “red tape” so small businesses can thrive in Rhode Island.