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Engage RI launched after Raimondo told pension overhaul supporters, “Get engaged”

November 16, 2011

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.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Disgusted permalink
    November 16, 2011 5:39 pm

    Raimondo is a fraud. It’s finally coming out that she’s the force behind EngageRI. That’s a huge conflict of interest. She was elected to represent all the people of the state, not just big business. Two of her campaign staffers/consultants were paid thousands by the group. Disgraceful! Wake up legislators. You’ve been had.

  2. tim1999 permalink
    November 17, 2011 12:13 am

    Ian, why does this bother you so??

    • Mister Guy permalink
      November 17, 2011 2:04 am

      I guess integrity is just another word in the dictionary to you, eh Timmy? Ugh…

      I also suspect if “Engage RI” didn’t parrot your own opinion on Mrs. Raimondo’s pension “reform” plan, then maybe you’d be a little more concerned about where they came from & how they are getting their money to shill for Raimondo’s plan…before it was ever announced BTW.

  3. tim1999 permalink
    November 17, 2011 12:57 pm

    Stop the charade Mister Guy. Why won’t you union tools just be honest for a change.
    What’s upsetting you is that there’s an organized group that is raising and spending money in an effort to sway public opinion and finance future candidates for public office who support their point of view.
    In other words EngageRI is playing the union game and you don’t like it.

    • Mister Guy permalink
      November 18, 2011 12:56 am

      “Stop the charade Mister Guy.”

      The truth hurts, eh Timmy? 😉

      “What’s upsetting you is that there’s an organized group that is raising and spending money in an effort to sway public opinion and finance future candidates for public office who support their point of view.”

      LOL…I’m against all of these “Super PAC” type groups (regardless of their positions on issues) that can raise unlimited amounts of money from other groups or individuals anonymously, period.

      If you can’t see how large amounts of anonymous money is thoroughly corrupting our political system in the USA (especially in a state like RI that doesn’t need any more corruption than it already, unfortunately, has), then there’s no hope for you Timmy. Run along now…

  4. Observer permalink
    November 17, 2011 9:25 pm

    Really interesting story.

  5. Truth permalink
    November 20, 2011 12:44 am

    “Americans know a rigged game when they see one. They understand how much money is flowing into politics from the super-rich, big corporations, and Wall Street — in order to keep their taxes low and entrench their privileged position.” Does this sound familiar? EngageRI perhaps?


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