Gina Raimondo's campaign for governor wants to reach an agreement with Angel Taveras and Clay Pell to eliminate outside spending in the expected three-way Democratic primary, her campaign manager said Tuesday.
"We want an agreement that eliminates any and all outside spending," said Eric Hyers.
Pell is expected to announce his entry in the Democratic primary next Tuesday morning at the RI Convention Center. Once Pell joins the race, Hyers said, Raimondo's campaign would like to try to work out an agreement with Pell and Taveras to eliminate outside spending.
At the close of the third fundraising quarter last year, Raimondo had a roughly 3-to-1 fundraising advantage over Taveras (she had more than $2 million in her campaign account). Final quarter reports for 2013 are due to be filed January 31. One of Raimondo's supporters, Kate Coyne-McCoy, launched a super PAC last year to support Raimondo's campaign, and it remains unclear if Coyne-McCoy would fold the PAC even with an agreement to limit spending.
In October, Taveras called for a "People's Pledge" to curb the influence of super PACs and other third parties. Raimondo's campaign criticized the details of the proposal, although the treasurer said she would delay a decision on a pledge until the shape of the primary field was settled.
Raimondo tweeted on the subject this morning -- the fourth anniversary of the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which paved the way for expanded third-party political contributions -- saying, "We need a strong People's Pledge to keep all outside $ out of this race." Raimondo spoke out, Hyers said, since it's "pretty clear we're going to be in a three-way race."
Danny Kedem, Taveras' campaign manager, reacted with this statement:
"Today, Treasurer Gina Raimondo acknowledged that Citizens United is a problem. But, sending tweets is not a solution. Signing our pledge to keep third party, sleazy money out of Rhode Island is a solution. This People’s Pledge is modeled after successful pledges used in Massachusetts by Elizabeth Warren among others. If you care about preventing powerful special interests from spending outside money in this race for Governor, we can do so today. Again, we ask the Treasurer to join Mayor Taveras in signing the pledge today."
Pell's spokesman, Bill Fischer, says Pell opposes the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. "He will address this matter when he speaks to Rhode Islanders on the 28th," Fischer says.
While the details of an agreement to restrict third-party spending has yet to be struck, Common Cause of Rhode Island praised Raimondo's expression of support. In a statement, Common Cause executive director John Marion said, "Common Cause thanks Mayor Taveras and Treasurer Raimondo for recognizing the damage Citizens United has dealt to our campaign finance system by supporting a People's Pledge. As Clay Pell stands ready to launch his campaign next week, we call on him to denounce the roll of negative, out-of-state, undisclosed money in elections and agree to a People's Pledge."
This post has been updated.