The lottery company seeking a 20-year, no-bid contract from the state of Rhode Island has acknowledged its failure to report $776,000 in lobbying expenditures over the course of three months, according to Katherine Gregg in the Providence Journal. Some of the names involved are very interesting — which may explain some of the reluctance to report them:
In an updated lobbyist-disclosure report filed Wednesday in response to Journal inquiries, IGT disclosed a total of $776,000 in payments to its media strategist and spokesman Bill Fischer’s company, True North Communications; the Providence public relations and media placement company (NAIL), where Gov. Gina Raimondo’s former communications director, Mike Raia, now works; Signature Printing; Big Tony’s Pizza. The total includes $15,000 a month in both August and September to the only named news outlet in IGT’s report, GoLocal 24 LLC.
Raia, remember, was a Raimondo staffer who left her administration-campaign network earlier this year in order to take the small step into a private company that has been working with her office. Now we find that company involved in the giant financial transaction for which Raia’s former boss has been inappropriately advocating. Add this to the connection with former IGT Chairman Donald Sweitzer, who has been working with Raimondo in the Democratic Governor’s Association.
Whatever the specifics of the deal, Rhode Islanders can’t have confidence that the governor is acting entirely without self-interest. It should go out to bid in a conspicuously transparent process.