RI Foundation Becoming Hub for Top-Down Progressive Shadow Government


In the Daily Signal, Kevin Mooney, who used to write for the Ocean State Current, takes a look at the private Rhode Island Foundation’s role in advancing left-wing causes and exploiting legal loopholes to move sensitive government activities beyond the reach of voters and transparency laws:

With almost $1 billion in assets, the foundation bills itself as Rhode Island’s largest grant-maker, awarding more than $30 million a year, according to annual reports. Tax records show that the foundation concentrated its most recent donations on left-of-center organizations, with a particular emphasis on environmental causes.

These organizations include Earthjustice, EcoRI News, the Climate Action Network, the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, and Grow Smart Rhode Island. Each has received tens of thousands in donations from the Rhode Island Foundation, according to the most recent tax forms.

Other left-leaning recipients of the foundation’s largess include Planned Parenthood branches in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; Direct Action for Rights and Equality, an anti-capitalist “social justice” group; the Economic Progress Institute, a Rhode Island-based progressive research group; and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, which seeks new gun controls.

Rhode Islanders who express concern over the Rhode Island Foundation’s penchant for funding liberal causes have been particularly critical of the nonprofit’s support for environmental groups standing behind a project called  RhodeMap Rhode Island.

The RI Foundation’s left-wing involvement spans just about every area of progressive social activism, and as Mooney notes, the organization has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state in the area of healthcare.  (Cash is fungible, of course, so revenue is revenue.)  In the past year, though, the Foundation has really taken additional steps toward helping to create and play a role in a shadow government.

As a tangential note, Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights Giovanni Cicione tells Mooney that some of this growing private-sector cabal should be registering as lobbyists.  I’d argue that includes the state’s new chief innovation officer Richard Culatta, whom Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo helped hire through the Rhode Island College Foundation.  He’s going to be part of the governor’s cabinet of advisers, but he’s not a government employee and will be giving suggestions and promoting them not only to the governor, but to agencies and bodies throughout government.  As of this morning, he was not listed on the Secretary of State’s lobbyist tracker, and it’s reasonable to expect he never will be, becoming instead just another example of how there’s no rule of law in Rhode Island.