Treasurer Gina Raimondo has brushed off a request by seven liberal groups that she return the award she received this month from the Manhattan Institute because of its scholars’ writings on gay marriage, campus rape and other issues.
“Accepting an award from an organization is never an across-the-board endorsement of its leanings, agenda or goals,” Raimondo wrote in a letter dated Monday to Ocean State Action’s Kate Brock. “There is no room in any thoughtful debate for messages of hate or inequity, especially regarding LGBTQI and women’s issues.”
Raimondo said traveling to New York City to accept the award offered her an opportunity to highlight Rhode Island’s successful effort to overhaul its pension system last year. “Rhode Island’s pension reform was successful because we were able to make it an ‘everybody’ issue and stay focused on the substance of the issue,” she wrote.
Raimondo is not the first Democrat to receive the Manhattan Institute’s award. Other recipients have included Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, now the head of the Democratic Governors Association; California Gov. Jerry Brown; and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. The group’s chairman, Paul Singer, played a key role in passing gay marriage in New York, as well.
In an email Wednesday, Brock declined to say whether other organizations were asked to sign the letter to Raimondo and declined. “Returning the award and offering the appropriate condemnation of the bigotry and ignorance the Manhattan Institute advances online would send an important message to all Rhode Islanders, especially our daughters, that principles are worth far more than political accolades,” she said.
Update: RIPR’s Ian Donnis has posted Raimondo’s full letter on his blog.
Update #2: Ocean State Action’s Kate Brock responded to Raimondo’s letter on Thursday afternoon, saying the groups are “disappointed” the treasurer is keeping the award and “remain concerned” about her take on the articles they cited, though they’re “encouraged” she doesn’t agree with all of them.
Brock said Raimondo should, “preferably in her next public appearance,” say how she will help the groups repeal the Corvese amendment to the civil unions law, end “gender discrimination in health care” and help low-income women get birth control.
“We would further advise her that those who aspire to lead are judged by the company they keep, and her close association with this organization could be interpreted by many as implicit acceptance of all their positions, not just those related to public pensions,” she added.
(photo: Manhattan Institute)