Common Cause: Raimondo-Providence Democrat Agreement Doesn't Appear To Violate Ethics Rules

Feb 7, 2018

Raimondo during her State of the State address last month.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

Common Cause of Rhode Island executive director John Marion said a fundraising agreement between Governor Gina Raimondo and the Providence Democratic City Committee does not appear to violate any laws or ethics guidelines.

State law limits individual political contributions to $1,000 a year, per candidate. But individuals can give up to $10,000 a year to political committees for so-called party-building activities. That’s why Marion sees the agreement between Raimondo and Providence Democrats as an attempt to increase her already considerable fundraising.

“Governor Raimondo seems to have this really deep national fundraising network – people of means, many of whom could give bigger checks than $1,000 if they were allowed, and this a mechanism for them to do that,” Marion said.

Marion said party-building activities are not defined under Rhode Island law, and he calls that a blind spot. He also said the fundraising deal between Raimondo and the Providence Democratic City Committee, which was first reported by WPRI.com, should be publicly released.

In a statement, Rhode Island GOP Chairman Brandon Bell called the agreement a sign of desperation by Democrat Raimondo.

Marion said he does not see a problem in how the chairman of the Providence Democratic Committee, Patrick Ward, is a state employee hired last year by Raimondo’s administration, “But we need, I think, to see that agreement, see what sort of activity both sides have promised here, to help make sure there’s no problem there.”

Ward is married to Providence City Councilor Sabina Matos, who also works for the state. Ward did not return messages seeking comment.

David Ortiz, Raimondo's press secretary, did not respond to a request for comment about the fundraising agreement.

With a balance of more than $3.3 million, Raimondo has about 14 times as much money in her campaign account as the Republican candidate with the most contributions, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung.