With less than a week to go before the Sept. 11 General Assembly primaries, deep-pocketed out-of-state donors are spending large sums of money to swing races across Rhode Island.
Tim Gill, the wealthy Denver software entrepreneur known for quietly backing same-sex marriage drives from coast to coast, donated $20,000 on Sunday to a new group called People for Rhode Island’s Future.
The same organization got $15,000 from Esmond Harmsworth, a founding partner of Boston literary agency Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency and owner of the Four Winds estate on Newport’s Bellevue Avenue, as well as much smaller donations of $500 each from three other individuals.
People for Rhode Island’s Future spent $26,500 this week to support six pro-gay-marriage candidates (David Gorman, Gene Dyszlewski, Lewis Pryeor, Adam Satchell, Laura Pisaturo and Roberto DaSilva) and oppose six others on the ballot (Lou Raptakis, Frank Lombardi, Marc Cote, Michael Pinga, Michael McCaffrey and Dan DaPonte).
Another famous name – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – donated $160,500 on Aug. 11 to 50CAN Action Fund Inc., whose Rhode Island chapter supports changes to education policy, according to a R.I. Board of Elections filing. The group also got $50,000 from Jonathan Sackler, whose father co-founded Purdue Pharma, and $2,500 from local tech entrepreneur Angus Davis.
50CAN Action Fund said it spent $44,902 on Aug. 30 supporting four candidates in next week’s primary: DaPonte, Jon Brien, Maura Kelly and Mia Ackerman. The group’s Rhode Island chapter endorsed all of them except DaPonte.
The SEIU Local 1199 union reported spending $5,316 out of its own treasury supporting four of its favored candidates: Stephen Casey, Lew Pryeor, Gayle Goldin and Bob DaSilva.