Engage RI launched after Raimondo told pension overhaul supporters, “Get engaged”
Considering the overlapping interests between state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and the pro-pension overhaul group Engage RI, one has to wonder whether Raimondo played any role in creating the organization. I put that question to her yesterday during an interview in her Statehouse office.
Here’s Raimondo’s initial response: “I am very supportive of Engage Rhode Island. Many people have come to me and said, ‘What can I do?’ and I said, ‘Get together and get engaged,’ so I think what they’re doing is great.”
I asked again whether she played any role in the creation of the group. Here’s Raimondo’s complete response:
Like I said, people came to me and they said, ‘What should we do?’ Couple of people came to me before it was formed. Ed Cooney, who is now kind of running the group, he said, ‘Gina, how can we help? Treasurer, what can we do?’
And I said, ‘What you can do is pull together a group of people that are supportive of pension reform.’ “
Meanwhile, Ted Nesi reports that Engage RI spent more than $500,000 just in October to promote the pension bill. His report includes this noteworthy detail:
The bulk of the spending – $348,819 – went to EngageRI’s public relations firm Duffy & Shanley, though in many cases that money was then spent by the firm to buy television, print and digital advertisements [. . . .]
Other major expenses included $31,350 to pay for a poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and $30,000 for lobbyists Christopher Boyle and Cara Cromwell. EngageRI also hired Winding Creek Group, a St. Louis-based Democratic voter outreach firm, and Petel & Co., a Washington-based direct-mail firm founded in 2008 by Karen Petel, a Democratic political operative and Central Falls native.
Both Benenson and Patel were hired as political consultants by Treasurer Gina Raimondo during her victorious first-time campaign for office last year.