Who Has the Most Money in 2016 RI General Assembly Races?
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Rhode Island General Assembly candidates get one step closer to November on Wednesday -- the last day that interested parties can declare their candidacy.
SLIDES: The Top 25 Current Lawmakers with Biggest War Chests BELOW
GoLocal took a look at current members of the legislature to see who has the most in their coffers -- or in this case, the highest cash balance in their latest campaign finance reports filed with the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
"Money serves as a barrier to entry for some people who may want to run for office. Our system incentivizes larger contributions because we lack a public financing system like the one Connecticut has for its legislature. You either need to self-finance or be able to find donors willing to fund your campaign. Matching funds programs can incentivize small dollar donors, and as a consequence encourage candidates to talk to a more diverse set of potential donors," said John Marion with Common Cause Rhode Island.
"Our system also provides a great advantage for incumbents who are more likely to be able to fundraise from lobbyists and PACs during the legislative session," said Marion. "There is little incentive for lobbyists and PACs to donate to challengers."
Of the full slate of existing lawmakers, including those who have declared they won't be running again this November, there were six who had over six figures cash balance in their campaign accounts - and sixteen who had $50K or more.
"Money is a sad and corrupting force in our politics. It provides one of the most important institutional advantages for the conservative machine that runs Rhode Island and the special interests that fund them," said Bell. "I tell new candidates that asking people for money is the very worst part of politics. I tell them that it's sickening, degrading, and horrifying, but you have to do it if you want to win."
Bell had given a preliminary overview of Progressive challengers this year at the Assembly earlier this month, the list will be finalized as of Wednesday close of day.
"[We need to] fix the public financing system," said Bell. "Currently, it doesn't apply to primaries or the General Assembly, making it basically useless. But to do that, we need to vote our the bipartisan conservative machine that blocks campaign finance reform."
Common Cause's Marion reminded candidates of their reporting duties.
"New candidates need to be mindful of the requirements to file campaign finance reports with the Board of Elections and financial disclosure forms with the Ethics Commission. The Board of Elections has a huge backlog of fines for candidates who did not follow the reporting requirements. The Ethics Commission has prosecuted a number of complaints against candidates who did not file their financial disclosures," said Marion. "Fortunately there is a lot of information online including a good guide by the Secretary of State and the Board of Elections."
Related Slideshow: 2016 War Chests: Who Has the Biggest in the Rhode Island General Assembly
Wednesday June 29, 2016 marks the final day for candidates to declare for the 2016 election in Rhode Island -- and GoLocal takes a look at the 25 current General Assembly members with the deepest political pockets.
This list below is of those members who had the highest cash balances in their campaign accounts as of the last required reporting period, which is through the first quarter of 2016 (March 31). The second quarter closes on June 30; those reports are due by August 1.
Included in the rankings are all current General Assembly members, whether they are running again or not -- as other candidates could benefit from the coffers of those bowing out.
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