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10 Questions Raimondo Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI

Saturday, December 21, 2013


To no one's surprise Gina Raimondo has entered the race for Governor. She had been running for Governor as long as she has been General Treasurer.

Raimondo has dominated fundraising in Rhode Island for years and has more than $2 million in cash on hand. Most of it has come from out-of-state donors and a good portion of it is linked to Wall Street.

Before the Harvard, Yale, and Oxford grad can claim the State House, she must beat two strong Democratic candidates and then defeat the winner of the Allan Fung and Ken Block GOP primary.

Most importantly, the former Venture Capitalist is going to have to answer the following questions one way or another.

Related Slideshow:
10 Questions Gina Raimondo Has to Answer When Running for Governor

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10. Money

Can she explain the amount of out of state money?

Most of the candidates for Governor need to answer the question, can they raise enough to be competitive? That is not a problem for Raimondo. She has proven to be the most skilled fundraiser, but her issue is justifying that the vast majority of the money is coming from out-of-state.

Raimondo will face a number of questions regarding who is really behind her campaign - the amount of out-of-state dollars is just one of the questions.

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9. Pension Reform

Did she only reform certain pensions?

Raimondo rose to celebrity status because of her leadership on pension reform. Her efforts helped to stabilize the pension system, but the reform was hardly democratic.

Teachers took the vast majority of the hit, while major groups of pensioners escaped reform including the judges, state police and disability pensioners. Raimondo has some explaining to do.

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8. Lack of Transparency

If she lacks transparency as Treasurer, what will it be like as Governor?

From her deepest critics to the media and even members of the retirement board, many have questioned her and her office's willingness to share information and provide the public insights into her management of the investment commission and the performance of the fund under her leadership.

Data which historically was easily accessed by the public and media is now locked behind the Raimondo wall. Often this raises serious questions and forces the media to seek the simplest information via FOIA requests.

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7. Wall Street

Why is Wall Street spending so much money supporting Raimondo?

Raimondo is the queen of fundraising and so much of it derives from the major players on Wall Street.

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6. Performance

Has Raimondo managed the pension fund competently?

The most important job of the General Treasurer might be the management of the state's retirement fund. The blockbuster investigative piece by Stephen Beale unveiled that the pension system under Raimondo lost $200 million

While she may be able to blitz the airwaves with positive messages about her bio and her leadership in pension reform, her Democratic primary competitors and/or her GOP opponent in the General Election may be able to destroy her credibility by playing up her "mismanagement of the pension system."

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5. Hedge Funds

Will Raimondo pay the price for shifting so much of the assets into Hedge Funds?

For the past six months, Raimondo has been under constant critique for shifting more than 20% of the State's retirement dollars into unregulated Hedge Funds. The critics has included forensic auditor/Forbes contributor Ted Siedle, Rolling Stones magazine's star reporter Matt Taibbi, former General Treasurer and candidate again, Frank Caprio, as well as many of the public unions. The combination of where she gets her campaign dollars, coupled with the shift in investment strategy and the under performance of the fund may all build into a snowball effect.

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4. Connect to RIers

Educated at Yale and Harvard, a Rhode Scholar and a millionaire, can she connect to the average RIer?

Raimondo is a born and bred Rhode Islander, but for her adult life she has been educated at the best colleges in the world and living a professional life aligned with many of America's super rich associated with Wall Street. In her announcement she mentioned a number of times she was a mother, but did not mention that her husband is a partner at Mckinsey - and according to Forbes magazine probably takes home $2 million or so per year.

Raimondo talks a lot about her father losing his job when she was a child, but she has come a long way since then. She could come across as the ultimate RI success story or be perceived as an out of touch venture capitalist.

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3. Siedle and Taibbi

Neither Ted Siedle or Matt Taibbi are going away - can she deflect their questions and charges?

In the past two months, both forensic auditor/Forbes columnist Ted Siedle and Rolling Stone's star reporter Matt Taibbi have raised serious issues about Raimondo's motivation and judgment.

As Taibbi wrote, "The dynamic young Rhodes scholar was allowing her state to be used as a test case for the rest of the country, at the behest of powerful out-of-state financiers with dreams of pushing pension reform down the throats of taxpayers and public workers from coast to coast."

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-the-pension-funds-20130926#ixzz2o2bLhqKW

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2. Is she a Democrat?

Will Taveras and Pell paint her to be too conservative?

Raimondo is simply hated by the teachers unions and others - big blocks of voters in the Democratic primary. Both Clay Pell and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will tack to the left and may compete for the same voters allowing her to sneak through to the general. However, progressives and unions may decide to pick Pell over Taveras (who is struggling to raise money and whose track record in Providence may come under fire) and then Pell can take the left leaning primary.

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1. SEC Investigation

Can Raimondo survive an SEC investigation?

Both Siedle and a state senator have written to the SEC calling for an investigation into the investment practices of Raimondo. A federal investigation would be at a minimum a black eye to the General Treasurer and an enforcement action might end a credible campaign. Timing may prove to be everything.


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Jonathan Bainsworth

Congratulations to GoLocal for this piece. These are great questions and ones that need to be addressed by this woman before she gives away all the state's money to her Wall Street buddies as Governor. More specifically, however, she needs to tell us who is John Arnold and what was his role in financing her pension reform and who is behind Engage RI and why can't you disclose its donors. This would be a start at least.

Charles Beckers

I expected 10 questions, but several of the questions are redundant, touching on the same topic. And one of the questions is irrelevant.

G Godot

I am privy to the statements issued by the "friends of Gina" who manage the retirement system funds. The value of the fund is NOT going up, outside of the contributions paid in by the state and the workers, but members of the fund receive regular notices of deductions made from their accounts for "management fees"
There are others in the race for Governor, I'll be making MY choice there.

Johnny cakes

Excellent! You should ask more questions and cover more of what The Journal buries. While the yahoo’s scream and debate nonsense, a small group of people are getting very rich picking our pockets and throwing sand in our eyes.

Here is one example: What credible economist would even propose eliminating the state’s sales tax in this climate? And this proposal is being treated as if it was something legitimate instead of laughable. This is more neoliberal, voodoo economics from The Weekly Standard, and the Carcieri and Bush administrations, and is designed to force even more cuts in social welfare programs and the social safety net. This is example of how much ordinary people have lost any semblance of control.

Unfunded tax cuts and credits are the very reason why we are close to leading the nation in unemployment. And if this is not so, I want to hear from one of these bullshitters - who call themselves economists - and who make fortune tellers look good. Explain to the people of RI how we got to where we are.

And when are these pimps going to regale us with their words of wisdom on the sales tax cuts; when it is safe?

Fruma Efreom

Excellent questions and might I also suggest:
11. who are the financial backers of EngageRI and what benefits did individual members of her "puppet" committee receive since forming EngageRI;
12. why do her numbers never add up (even someone with a background in the simplest algebra can see that) and why are they so wildly inconsistent;
13. why do the models she used to sell her pension reform have severe logical inconsistencies (the employees are fully covered at enrollment or they are paid for by new employees entering the system -- it's one or the other, not both at once for a model to be valid);
14. what is her current running total in legal fees to support this so-called pension reform
15. is the Attorney General's office really paying half -- do they confirm that;
16. how is she able to exceed the administrative costs for the pension fund specified by law which by my reading (more than 7 years of budget experience) should include the 2% initiation fees for each hedge fund -- it's like points up front in a mortgage.

Art West

Johnny cakes:

Okay, let's get answers to your questions.

I'd like to add this one:

With population growth flat, Why has the state budget doubled in about 10 years from roughly $4 billion to over $8 billion?

Redd Ratt

Take your tongue out of Matt Taibbi's butt. "star" reporter? I love the unbiased report from the "news team". Nobody wants ownership of this political hatchet job.

john paycheck

most of the questions above are looking at history and more political than governing.

here is a real question regarding governing that confronts a future issue.

the latest state budget for 2014, page 2,(it's right there on the state website) includes estimated deficits as follows:

fy2015 $170.5 million
fy2016 $254.5 million
fy2017 $468.9 million

these include the effect of a casino opening in Massachusetts.

so how will the candidate deal with those projected deficits?
raise taxes? how much will taxes increase and which ones will be increased?

cut expenses. how much of expenses will be cut and which ones will be cut?

hmm... I would consider this the most important question for all candidates with the exception of how they will deal with the RI economy.

rhode islanders and the media need to move this question to the forefront NOW. every candidate should have a detailed plan. if they don't, I would not consider them a serious candidate.

paul zecchino

Fruma Efreom -

Excellent questions. Another one:

Why does this individual never speak directly to the people she plans to govern, but instead always communicates thru flacks? Why does she appear on tape, rather than in person?

What is the extent of Bloomberg's control over this individual, given his heavy financial backing of her gubernatorial campaign and his anti-liberty agenda.

What about connecting the dots between this effort to reduce retirees' finances, in connection with Warren "I don't pay enough taxes" Buffet's hired whizz-twit, a twenty nine year old who is cutting pensions at Benjamin Moore? Is this treasurer part of a surreptitious and now exposed, thanks to the Net, campaign to destroy retirees' means to survive, in order to empower inadequates with a napoleon complex who fancy themselves our overlords?

Where have the hedge fund cronies put Rhode Islanders' money? Is it all invested in legal activities?

Who benefits by this unlawful withholding of contractually owed COLA's, as it's obvious the hedge funds get a rake-off but the money is flowing to deep and perhaps smelly pockets such as 'payday loan' sharks, among other lovely businesses.

paul zecchino

Judging from the increasingly regressed, projective, choleric ramblings from the anti-retiree goons, realization is setting in. Realization that SEC investigations have consequences (see under 'Madoff') and that when the whole truth is laid bare and people discover they've been financially reduced, insulted, demonized and had 'sand kicked in their face', the backlash against these snide, incoherent, condescending anti-retiree shill-parrots will be tremendous.

The Victim bit about the old man losing his job is perhaps most troubling because where you find Victims, you find individuals consumed with getting even, getting revenge for imaginary slights, imbued with an air of "I'm gonna get you back".

The father lost his job in 1982. But the company reportedly offered its employees the option of moving out of state with the company.

The father reportedly was a college educated chemist and/or metallurgist. In the jewelry capital of the world, he could surely have found another career, couldn't he? To lose one's job during The Carter Glory Years was one thing, but to lose it in 1982, when the Reagan economy was ramping up? People could start out with literally nothing during that era and prosper. So what gives?

For that matter, he lost his job? So what? Many, if not all of us, have lost jobs at one time or another. So what? Why is that in any way relevant? Simple answer: it isn't. And the more one hears it, the more one pays attention to the language, the more one hears resentment and a desire to somehow get even, i.e., 'he lost his job so now you're gonna lose'.

Once bought and paid for by the sawed-off, tyrannical ilk of the Bloomberg's of the world, one can expect to lose far more than COLAs. History tells us as much.

paul zecchino

EnGougeRI, the bloombat/buffet gang, ENRON thugs and aspiring Elites imbued with an air of entitlement directed their whizz kid to get the goods.

Do as Cecil Rhodes, he of scholarship fame, directed: "Take back the wealth of nations" from undeserving serfs, and return it to the ever-grasping albeit deserving claws of the Elites.

In this case, the beginning but by no means the end of 'getting the goods' was taking back contractually owed COLA's from RI retirees, on false pretext this was necessary to 'save the pension', and then turning around and handing said COLA's to hedge fund cronies for considerations one can only begin to imagine.

With the 'never let a crisis go to waste' crowd, the sky is always falling because there's good money in crashes.

Well, they got the goods, didn't they? Goodbye COLAs, and likely the courts will be skewed to ensure that outcome. The interminable, ongoing, mediation speaks to the truculence of the caught.

David Mamet's enjoyable noir/morality tale nicely illustrated the dilemma. As 'Joe Moore' (Gene Hackman) said in 'HEIST', "Anybody can get the goods. Getting away with them is the hard part."

Taking back COLAs from those contractually owed them was a nifty gag pulled during the wrong era. In the good old daze when the Old Left media enjoyed the stranglehold monopoly on information, one could always count on the media to assist in getting away with the goods.

But today? Today there's the Ted Siedles, Matt Taibbi's and countless citizen reporters who use the reach and power of the Net to bypass Old Media propaganda and obfuscations, to get at the truth.

In our Net-centric information era, getting the goods is still easy. Just as the thugs at ENRON. But getting away with them is harder than ever, if at all possible, a point to which ENRON all-stars, imprisoned and otherwise, will handily attest.

Chris MacWilliams

Did she only reform certain pensions? The General Assembly voted to pass this reform.

Will you be asking your Rep/Senator this same question in 2014 when he/she runs again for re-election?

John Waddington

Shut the pension system down divide up the funds and give the people their money so they can invest it themselves and get the state out of this lie they suckered the state employees with.

What kind of idiot would give their money to a politician to invest anyway?

G Godot

State senators and reps fell over backwards to please Foxey and pass this "reform", now it seem seems the "defeat is an orphan but victory has many fathers" syndrome is taking over, in REVERSE. For Gina, Governor is but a way station, If I were Seldom Righthouse, I'd be worried. Or non - CIB holding Reed the "war hero" for that matter. Nice to watch them sell military retired down the river recently. Retired military don't by instinct yank the demmi master lever so that dough could be better spent in more fertile vote buying fields.
Remember when the "All Vol" military was going to save us dough by getting better personel and encouraging "high retention rates". All it did, it seems, was get draft dodging "twenty something" weasels off the politicians backs.

Redd Ratt

Tavares leaves the United States and skips a mayoral summit meeting on inner city education for fundraising from people that aren't even Americans. Not a big deal. But Gina raises money from her peers in America and she has a lot of explaining to do. Sexist liberal pigs.

Joseph Reynolds

Question no.11. Why did you endorse David Cicilline for Congress in the last election?

john paycheck

For Gina, Governor is but a way station, If I were Seldom Righthouse, I'd be worried. Or non - CIB holding Reed the "war hero" for that matter.

you are spot on. I am no fan of hers. but every democrat from ri, langevin, whitehouse , ciccilini is extremely vulnerable to a fellow democrat. its a tough race for a republican but many democrats could beat them.

i think mike riley ran a great race and most importantly broke the barrier that you could attack langevin. i would say langevins days in congress are finite.

Redd Ratt

Joseph, Same reason Tavares did. They're democrats. It was a great opportunity for both of them to show some independence and political courage. They both failed. Especially Tavares who was left holding the bag of poop that Cicilline left him.

G Godot

I find interesting the way Gregg, et al, at the Belo ignored the elephant in the Cicilline propaganda machine, his rope a dope method of dealing with city finances until after the election.

Thus they had it both ways, the East Eide lefty, beloved of Kerr, Harrop, Fitzie, et al, gets elected and the Belo points to what they wrote AFTER the election as proof they were doing their job. Ha! They only question is whether they knew and spiked the story or their crack "investigative team" were comatose or too busy hanging Republicans.

Sooo the whole sordid crew we send to Washington are democrats, yet states with FAR better economies than ours feast at the Federal trough while we pay IN to the Feds more than we get back. Why? Some say it's because democrat office holders are a "sure thing" in the eyes of the democrat leadership and buying support is bette done in areas where a democrat who does NOT bring home the bacon might be "unelected" over it. In retrospect, given who runs, and will continue to run the House for the foreseable future would in NOT have been better to have ONE member of THAT party go to Washington. After all, the House is where the budget process starts. Instead, our economy is in the dumps, but we can take comfort that "our" liberals are in DC doing "liberal things." Doesn't fix the roads, though, does it?

Fruma Efreom

Redd Ratt: Painting Raimondo as a feminist is laughable. Stealing the value of the pensions of elderly retired workers is not a feminist issue. It is a money grab pure and simple. Just because she can get some high profile groups with feminist names or some local overly-ambitious women to overlook what she is actually doing only means she has connections to people who are themselves connected. The majority of people being hurt by her so-called reforms are women. They are having whatever financial security they managed to accumulate for themselves stolen by someone with the gall to tell them that she's doing them a favor they are too stupid to understand and appreciate. The responsibility for making the pension fund solvent does not rest on the retired; it rests on the state. The retired fulfilled their responsibility by contributing a substantial share of their income to the retirement fund each paycheck. Her telling a big lie and telling it often doesn't make it true.

G Godot

Yes, you have THAT right. You can keep your health plan and your doctor as well. The big lie always works with those having a short memory.

G Godot

BTW with respect to state employees, by and large they seem to do the best they can with what they have, which includes leadership. It's not the fault of the average DMV worker tht their computer system is a POS. Before joining the age old bash the state worker party consider that the political hacks in the "department of Administration" who pass out the orders bear a lot of the blame for what we love to blame on the worker. The "rank and file" workers are not all saints, but they often see their "leaders" as people whth their foot on the necks of anyone who might get in the way of a promotion to the top of the administration food chain. Where, pray tell, did Richard Litch get his "administrative ability"? LT Governor?

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