Republican chair for state party says pro-Raimondo PAC did not disclose donations properly.
Rhode Island Republicans have accused Democrats in Washington of breaking state campaign finance law by failing to disclose the national donors helping to bolster Gov. Gina Raimondo's bid for reelection.
The Washington-based Democratic Governors Association has given $2 million this year to the pro-Raimondo Alliance for a Better Rhode Island Political Action Committee, which is running ads attacking Raimondo's Republican challenger, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung.
In July, the DGA reported its first $1-million contribution to the alliance, along with links to tax filings showing its donors.
But on Wednesday the alliance reported more pro-Raimondo spending, financed with another $1-million donation from the DGA, but no donor list or link accompanied the new contribution.
In a complaint filed with the state Board of Elections Friday, Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell said state law requires groups making "independent expenditures" toward political causes to disclose donations of more than $1,000 within 24 hours if they come within a month of an election.
"Democrats like to talk about dark money. Well, why are they keeping the public in the dark about this $1 million ... donation?" Bell said in a news release with the complaint.
Taking it a step further, Bell speculated that the reason the DGA was not reporting its latest donations was to prevent the disclosure that Deloitte, the contractor responsible for Rhode Island's problematic public assistance computer system, is among the contributors.
The earlier DGA filings show Deloitte contributed $165,000 from the start of last year to the end of June. Putting that in context, the DGA reported around $19 million in total contributions in the first six months of last year alone.
And Deloitte gave almost as much, more than $150,000 over the same 18-month period mentioned in the GOP complaint, to the Republican Governors Association, which is funding a super-PAC making independent expenditures in support of Fung.
Regardless, Bell used the filings to blast Raimondo over the UHIP computer debacle Deloitte is still working on.
"Are they afraid to reveal that Deloitte contributed even more to the DGA to bail out Raimondo or are there other Rhode Island state vendors donating to the DGA they don't want to reveal?" he said.
DGA communications director Jared Leopold told The Journal in an email that the organization planned to file its donor list with the IRS later Friday. He then took aim at Fung and the RGA, which he pointed out filed its donors for an April expenditure in May.
"It’s clear that Allan Fung’s failing campaign is desperately seeking anything to talk about other than Fung’s support for Donald Trump’s agenda," Leopold wrote. "But we’re not going to take any lectures from a candidate who still hasn’t disclosed who funded his 2014 dark money independent expenditure and whose top backer, the RGA, failed to properly disclose its donors for more than a month in Rhode Island in 2018.”
The 2014 "dark money" reference alludes to anti-Raimondo ads from the Mid America Fund during the last election cycle.
Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John Marion said that, based on the Board of Elections online database, it looks like the DGA was late filing the required donor information.
"The DGA did not file the required form within the time frame outlined in Rhode Island law and therefore appear[s] to be in violation," Marion wrote in an email. "This law was put in place so that voters can know who is funding these ads that are blanketing our airwaves. Common Cause hopes the Board of Elections acts on the RI GOP's complaint in a timely fashion so the voters have all the information they need to make an informed decision on November 6th."