Shortly after adding the certification of school bus drivers to my running list of tasks at which Rhode Island government is failing, my morning reading brought to my attention multiple articles about Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s big fundraising take in the first quarter of this calendar year. Here’s WPRI’s Ted Nesi:
Raimondo continues to demonstrate a fundraising prowess rarely seen in Rhode Island politics, having raised nearly $3 million since becoming governor and millions more before that when she was general treasurer. The state’s last two-term governor, Republican Don Carcieri, had about $275,000 on hand at the same point during his third year in office.
Want a fun fact? According to the helpful spreadsheets that one can download from the state’s campaign finance search tool, so far in 2017, only 31% of the $570,110 the governor has raised came from people with addresses within Rhode Island. That does represent a little bit of a change. Going back to 2009 (the earliest available for her) brings Raimondo’s in-state percentage up to 51%. Over those seven-plus years, by the way, the governor of Rhode Island has averaged a $541 donation from people out of state, but only $406 from donors in the state.
For comparison’s sake, Cranston’s Republican Mayor Allan Fung, presumed to be Raimondo’s most likely GOP challenger in 2018, has collected 99% of his $30,109 campaign donations so far in 2017 from people with in-state addresses. If it seems unfair to compare a governor with a mayor, turn to the fundraising record of former Republican Governor Donald Carcieri. He raised 89% of all of his campaign money from people in Rhode Island, and Rhode Island donors gave him an average $427 donation, versus $397 from each out-of-state-donor.
So what are Raimondo’s out-of-state donors buying with their money? I’m sure their motivations are manifold, but I can’t help but notice that Wexford Science & Technology is back in the news, having received approval for $13.5 million in taxpayer incentives to do business in RI. As I highlighted back in December, the interactions of Wexford, the Brookings Institution, and other private organizations are certainly, let’s say, interesting, as is the overlap with Raimondo’s donor base.