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Matt Brown issues plan to separate ‘big money and democracy’



Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown accused incumbent Governor Gina Raimondo of taking “full advantage of the Supreme Court‘s 2010 Citizens United decision that allows unlimited corporate donations and dark money in elections.”

“She’s earned corporate campaign contributions from the same companies that she offered or awarded corporate handouts to, supported a fracked gas plant despite public outcry, and has been bank-rolled by an opioid manufacturer and people behind anti-LGBTQ Islamaphobic propaganda,” said Brown. “We cannot allow someone like this to steal our democracy. We must end corruption in our government so that Rhode Islanders come before corporate donors and Wall Street.”

In supporting research Brown says corroborates his claims:

  • Raimondo has received nearly $500,000 in campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies or lobbyists representing fossil fuel companies.
  • It has been widely reported that Invenergy’s Chicago-based chief executive Michael Polsky has given $2,000 to Raimondo’s re-election campaign since announcing the planned fracked gas plant. But Invenergy’s lobbyists and law firm have given far more.
  • Adler Pollock & Sheehan, a law firm representing Invenergy, gave Raimondo $98,785 since the company proposed the fracked gas plant. Invenergy’s outside law firm, Nixon Peabody, gave $50,573 to Raimondo’s re-election campaign. In all Invenergy’s executives, lawyers and lobbyists have given the Governor more than $150,000 while the state considered whether to permit the company to build the plant.
  • Stacy Schusterman, CEO of offshore drilling giant Samson Energy Company and charter school backer, who used a Super PAC to funnel $250,000 into ads supporting Governor Raimondo’s reelection campaign. In all, Schusterman and her family have given at least $311,000 to Governor Raimondo and her PAC.
  • Over Raimondo’s political career, firms registered to lobby in Rhode Island on behalf of the tobacco industry have given her $45,000.
  • Jonathan Sackler of the billionaire Sackler family that created Oxycontin and fueled the opioid crisis has donated $7,000 to Raimondo and her PAC.
  • Board members of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative, Koch-funded think tank that advocates for anti-union policy and slashing pensions for public workers, have donated more than $20,000 t​o Gina Raimondo. The donors from the institute have also given to anti-LGBTQ groups; funded Islamophobic think tanks that have helped shape Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim policies; and have penned editorials denying climate change.
  • Raimondo has also taken at least $2,350 from NRA lobbyist​ William Murphy of the 2nd Amendment Coalition.

Brown’s plan to “Take Back Rhode Island” has five goals:

  1. 1. Ban campaign contributions from senior executives, board members or lobbyists representing companies that receive state contracts, receive corporate tax incentives through state boards or agencies and/or have regulatory matters pending before the state. Violators will be disqualified from receiving state contracts or tax incentives for two years.
  2. Ban campaign contributions from individuals registered to lobby in Rhode Island during the past two years.
  3. Require that candidates supported by an independent expenditure sign an affidavit within three days of learning of the expenditure pledging their was no coordination.
  4. Ensure that the Rhode Island Board of Elections has the resources and staff it needs to enforce laws on the books​.
  5. Link state databases that track contracts and Commerce Corporation tax breaks to the state’s campaign finance database and redesign the Board of Elections website so that Rhode Islanders can more easily search for campaign contributions by name, employer, city and address.

Over at the Providence Journal, Raimondo campaign spokesperson Emily Samsel did not seem to recognize the irony of saying, “…Brown knows Governor Raimondo follows every rule and law that governs campaigns. If Brown were sincere about wanting to clean up the system, he would never have used a loophole in the law during his last campaign, by raising money into the Hawaii, Maine and Massachusetts Democratic parties to enable his max-out donors to give his campaign more money than the law intends. The FEC may have concluded Brown didn’t break the law. But that doesn’t make it right and it was an embarrassment to our state.”

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Matt Brown’s plan to Take Back Rhode Island

Supporting research

“Under Governor Raimondo, there’s an unwritten rule: if you want a government subsidy or tax incentive, you have to donate to her. [Raimondo] approved more than $150 million in corporate handouts to companies that gave her more than $400,000 in contribution. It’s a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” deal that favors big corporations, leaving behind the more than 90 percent of businesses in Rhode Island that employ fewer than 20 workers each.”

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