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Progressive groups ask Raimondo to return Manhattan Institute award

January 13, 2012

Ocean State Action, the liberal advocacy group, and six other progressive groups have asked state Treasurer Gina Raimondo to return the award she received last week from the Manhattan Institute.

Raimondo spokeswoman Joy Fox says her office is working on a response to the groups and plans to answer them by early next week. Fox declined to elaborate on the response.

Here’s a transcript of the letter, sent on Ocean State Action letterhead:

Dear Treasurer Raimondo,

On behalf of a broad range of civil rights and community organizations, we respectfully write to you regarding your recent affiliation with the Manhattan Institute – an extremist right wing group that promotes offensive, ignorant and hurtful positions towards the LGBTQI community, women, minorities and our environment.

Last week you traveled to New York to stand with and be publicly recognized by The Manhattan Institute, where you accepted their “Urban Innovator Award” for your work to alter Rhode Island’s pension system. Your work regarding the pension system has certainly been the subject of significant debate, and our purpose today is not to reexamine the merits of those legislative efforts. Rather, we seek to call your attention to a series of troubling articles and position papers that we sincerely hope do not reflect your own personal or political positions.

In “Gay Marriage vs American Marriage”, the Manhattan Institute comes alarmingly close to some of the more common anti-equality rants espoused by the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council, by claiming that marriage equality (same-gender marriage) is not the same as “American Marriage”. Furthermore, in “Redefining Marriage Away”, the Manhattan Institute claims that the reason to fear marriage equality is that gay and lesbian couples do not value fidelity, that their asserted lack of monogamy is immoral and dangerous. As if these articles aren’t offensive enough, they publish and reference anti-equality articles and books written by former NOM president Maggie Gallagher including “Why Marriage is Good For You”.·

Ms. Hymowitz writes about how “Women Prefer the Mommy Track,” widespread rape on college campuses is a myth, and claims that feminism as a whole is “not so much dead as obsolete.”

The Manhattan Institute called claims of racial profiling by police “ACLU misinformation,” “promoting racial paranoia,” and “ivory-tower posturing” and compared being charged with racism to being charged as a witch: to be without any conceivable defense.

· The Manhattan Institute rails against President Obama’s green jobs initiative, stands in opposition to wind power, and sees fracking as an alternative energy solution.

Madame Treasurer, the aforementioned articles are just a sample of what is readily available on the Manhattan Institute’s website. We must ask if you or anyone in your office were aware that this organization published such venomous, racially-charged, anti-gay, anti-environment and anti-women positions before you agreed to be honored by them in New York. We are willing to accept that you were not, but that acceptance must accompany a proactive effort by you. Return the Manhattan Institute’s Urban Innovator Award and publicly condemn these harmful writings at your earliest convenience, preferably within the next 48 hours.

We recognize that the purpose of your visit to the Manhattan Institute was to receive an accolade for your pension work and not to discuss the important issues we have brought to your attention. It is simply unacceptable to us as a coalition, or your constituents as a whole, for you to stand with or accept an award from a narrow-minded and hurtful organization. To do so would be seen as nothing less than an implicit condoning of their bigotry.

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration, we look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

Clean Water Action Rhode Island
Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island
Hope United
Marriage Equality Rhode Island
National Association of Social Workers Rhode Island Chapter
Ocean State Action
Sierra Club

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2012 1:00 am

    Thank you, OSA and others, for holding Ms. Raimondo accountable on this. At the very least, she needs to denounce the frightening positions taken by this group, and explain why she accepted the award in the first place. Best would be for her to renounce the “honor,” and use this as an opportunity to stand against sexism, homophobia and bigotry.

    • Mister Guy permalink
      January 14, 2012 6:03 am

      “explain why she accepted the award in the first place.”

      It’s simple…she’s not really a Democrat. The Manhattan Institute advocates for school vouchers, blurring the distinction between church & state, labeling secondhand smoke as “safe” & against allowing the federal govt. to negotiate prices in Medicare Part D. They routinely bend to their masters at the Koch Family Foundations, the Scaife Foundations, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation & Exxon Mobil.

      That said, the above letter to Mrs. Raimondo is a waste of time. She’s not going to give back an award that was about her ramming through state pension “reform”.

  2. Barry permalink
    January 14, 2012 10:04 pm

    I thank the progressive groups for raising this issue and RINPR for covering it, even though I tend to think the Treasurer did a good job on pension reform, getting a bill through that tries to share the pain without demonizing state employees as so many are tempted to do. But her association with the Manhattan Institute does leave me uneasy about her, I don’t know if the Treasurer thought nobody here would know or care about the award but now that we do it requires explaining. Did she raise any concerns about their anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-civil rights postions when she was at their ceremony? Is she indifferent to those issues?

    • Mister Guy permalink
      January 15, 2012 4:16 am

      Sorry “Barry”, but I’m afraid that you’re being extremely naive. Sure, Mrs. Raimondo is a political novice for sure, but a simple Google search on the Manhattan Institute would tell one everything that one needs to know about that right-wing organization. She knew exactly what she was doing in accepting that award.

      As for “getting a bill through that tries to share the pain without demonizing state employees”, please. Did many of the so-called “public safety employees” “share the pain” in the recently passed pension “reform” bill? Nope. Did Mrs. Raimondo’s buddies at “Engage RI” refrain from “demonizing state employees” during the entire process? Nope. It’s kind of hard to take criticism about not being aware of things from someone that’s apparently just as clueless about what happened in RI at the end of last year.


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