RI GOP files federal elections complaint against Gov. Raimondo

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island Republicans aren’t giving up their quest to prove Gov. Gina Raimondo’s re-election campaign acted nefariously when it entered into a fundraising agreement with the Providence Democratic City Committee.

State GOP Chairman Brandon Bell said Wednesday he has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission arguing that the mutual support agreement between Raimondo and the local party does not comply with federal campaign laws.

Bell’s complaint claims the Ramondo campaign never named a fundraising representative by establishing a separate political committee or selecting an additional existing committee; failed to establish a written fundraising agreement; and failed to state an allocation formula outlining how each campaign contribution would be distributed.

“The federal requirements for joint fundraising activity apply to all committees even if they are not registered with the FEC,” Bell stated.

A spokesperson for Raimondo’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Republicans have been attacking Raimondo ever since Eyewitness News first revealed on Feb. 5 that her campaign had entered into the agreement with the Providence Democrats in order to help the local party raise funds and hire staff ahead of the upcoming elections. At the time the agreement was reached, the party was chaired by Patrick Ward, a state employee. (Ward has since resigned as chairman over an unrelated matter.)

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission voted 5-1 last week to dismiss a complaint filed by the GOP accusing Raimondo of entering into a financial transaction with a subordinate. The commission found Ward is not a direct subordinate of the governor and claimed the fundraising agreement was between Raimondo’s campaign and the Providence Democrats, not Ward.

The latest complaint focuses on campaign fundraising laws, not Ward.

The agreement called for Ward to open a federal campaign account (for supporting congressional candidates), a non-federal account and a party building account, all called “Victory 2018.” The maximum combined contribution an individual would be eligible to make to the three accounts is $21,000 in a calendar year.

It’s unclear if or when any of the three accounts outlined in the agreement were opened. It’s also unclear if the Providence Democrats have raised any funds based on the agreement with Raimondo’s campaign. The party reported just $122 as of Dec. 31. Its next quarterly fundraising report isn’t due until April 30.

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan