The Outside Cash the Governor Needs to Govern


Sometimes a politician answers a question in such a way as to put her political activities (and those of other politicians) in a different light.  Such was the case when reporter Tim White asked Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo on WPRI’s Newsmakers program about her continued fundraising, despite being term limited as governor:

I’ll have a legislative agenda that I’d like to get passed.  All the legislators are on the ballot next year, and I may decide to support or oppose legislators that I think are doing the right thing or holding Rhode Island back.  So, you know, there are plenty of reasons to need a campaign account just to govern.

According to WPRI’s Ted Nesi, Raimondo raised $66,000 in the third quarter of the year, giving her $726,000 to expend as she “governs.”

Put this way, doesn’t something seem… well… off about this arrangement?  The governor of the state is collecting money from private interests in order to bully other elected officials into doing what she wants, as if the governor is also the director of an insider PAC.  A few thousand dollars is a pretty substantial campaign in local legislative races, so a governor with three quarters of a million dollars in the bank and nothing else to spend it on could be a worrying wildcard.

To be sure, we should be skeptical of efforts to restrict political activity through regulation.  The powerful will always find ways around the regulations, at least to a greater extent than the powerless can.

That said, it’s worth being aware that this is going on and maintaining a general sense of aversion to it.  What the governor of the state is saying is that she’s going to use money given to her by special interests across the country to reach into your local legislative races to influence who represents you in the General Assembly.

Something doesn’t seem right about that.

  • Joe Smith

    In a state where the political checks and balances are skewed toward the legislature and specifically one/two people, it’s understandable the chief executive needs some ways to balance what the people won’t do (or can’t seem to muster the will/power to do via the ballot box or constitutional convention process). this case, let’s be honest – when she says “agenda”, it’s really her personal agenda to advance her career to the national level. After Trump won, she switched to get re-elected mode (and actually governed a bit like vetoing contract continuation). After 2018, she’s governed more like a team that’s trying to run down the clock and protect a lead while keeping her focus on the next game.

    She has (the best attempts by the WSJ and her poll numbers notwithstanding) crafted a national image as being acceptable enough to the unions now and probably progressives (abortion, standing up to Trump) while not scaring the Biden faction of the party.

    So, either Jack Reed retires – which means she has a sizable head start over anyone else considering Reed has been coy and that election is less than 11 months away – or she’s posturing for a Dem win (except Warren as no way Warren is giving her any spot in a Cabinet) to be Secretary of Something (Treasury, Commerce). Be fun to see Trump win and Reed run again – she’ll be left like Deval Patrick was.