Angel Taveras' Democratic gubernatorial campaign used a statement released Monday to press its central line of attack against his main rival, Gina Raimondo, charging she's closely aligned with Wall Street interests. Raimondo's campaign responded by disputing the message and expressing disappointment "in the increasingly personal and negative nature of the mayor's campaign."
Coming nearly a week after Raimondo and Taveras took part in a one-hour Democratic gubernatorial roundtable hosted by RI Public Radio, Taveras' campaign fired a salvo asserting Wall Street is "Raimondo's blind spot."
The three major Democratic campaigns for governor have yet to use paid television advertising to attack their rivals. Yet Taveras, who lags Raimondo in fundraising, appears to be using a growing mantra about Wall Street as a way to cultivate more media attention.
The release by Taveras' campaign points to news reports describing how Raimondo, as state treasurer, backed the move of more than $1 billion into hedge funds; presided over an increase in fees to Wall Street of about $70 million, raised $250,000 last year from the financial industry, and has benefited from contributions from "former Enron executive and hedge fund billionaire" John Arnold.
In he statement, Taveras campaign spokeswoman Dawn Bergantino asserts that "when most Rhode Islanders are struggling, Treasurer Raimondo is taking a 'business as usual' attitude to Wall Street ... We have a hedge fund billionaire and Wall Street titans who are spending big money to prop up the Treasurer's political fortunes."
Raimondo campaign spokeswoman Nicole Kayner says the attack from the Taveras campaign is off-base.
"These personal attacks are not true," Kayner says via email. "Gina Raimondo goes above and beyond and does not accept contributions from investment managers that do business with the state's pension fund, and she has these same managers sign a pledge that they know the rules. She's doesn't work for Wall Street and never has. She is only accountable to the people of Rhode Island. Gina opened a business in Rhode lsland that helped create over a thousand jobs, and as Treasurer enacted pension reform that has saved people's pensions, saved taxpayers millions of dollars statewide and prevented other local governments from following Central Falls into bankruptcy."
Raimondo, Taveras and Clay Pell -- whose own television commercials are in heavy rotation -- are the three leading Democratic candidates for governor. Bristol contractor Todd Giroux is also running.
The stepping up of criticism of Raimondo from Taveras' campaign comes with less than two months until the September 9 primary.
Kayner says Raimondo's campaign is "disappointed in the increasingly personal and negative nature of the Mayor's campaign. He has joined with other opponents of pension reform by engaging in character attacks on Gina in an attempt to undermine the important work she is doing to save the pension system. As he caters to his political allies and opposes pension reform, we are reminded that just a few years ago he was upset that the state's pension reform didn't address the locally-administered pensions as well, including Providence's. Mayor Taveras continues to do the politically convenient thing and once again fails to make the tough decisions. He's more of the same."