Raimondo will reimburse state for fundraising on California trip

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo’s aides confirmed Friday that she held a two-hour fundraiser soon after touching down in California on her West Coast trip this week, but said she will reimburse taxpayers for the campaign-related portion of her journey.

Raimondo held a two-hour fundraiser Wednesday night at the San Francisco home of Mark and Mauree Jane Perry, according to an invitation first obtained by WPRO host John DePetro. Perry is a retired general partner at the venture-capital firm New Enterprise Associates. Their home has an assessed value of nearly $10 million, city records show.

The invitation said the “reception and discussion” with Raimondo would be about how she’s been “tackling the tough issues in a bipartisan and financially responsible way – pension reform and more.”

Kate Ramstad, who works on fundraising for Raimondo, told WPRI.com the reception was for “local supporters” and is the Democratic governor’s only campaign event during the California trip. Raimondo is due back in Rhode Island on Friday afternoon.

The governor’s office has provided few other details about the trip, saying only that Raimondo is holding “a series of economic development meetings” while she’s in California. It comes as the governor has been making an effort to woo San Jose-based PayPal to Rhode Island following its decision to cancel an expansion in North Carolina.

Ashley O’Shea, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, told WPRI.com the estimated cost to taxpayers of the San Francisco trip is $4,000.

“For any trip where there are official and political activities, the state is reimbursed for a pro rata share (based on a reasonable allocation reflecting the time spent doing official and non-official work) of all travel costs incurred for the governor and security personnel,” O’Shea said in an email. She did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about the split for this trip.

Marie Aberger, another Raimondo spokeswoman, said the reimbursement policy is a longstanding one.

Raimondo does not typically disclose in advance whether she’ll be doing fundraising when she journeys out of state, though her office has confirmed at least one example in the past in response to an inquiry from WPRI.com, a lunch reception in February when she was in Washington for the National Governors Association meeting. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker also held a fundraiser during that event.

Raimondo has been a champion fundraiser throughout her seven-year political career, raising and spending huge sums for a state-level politician in Rhode Island. She had $1.01 million in her campaign war chest as of March 31, after raising about $300,000 during the first quarter of this year, according to her most recent filing with the R.I. Board of Elections.

As part of that effort, Raimondo has cultivated a network of well-heeled supporters in California since she was Rhode Island treasurer, with perhaps the most famous among them being Laurene Powell Jobs, founder of the Emerson Collective and the widow of late Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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