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Governor Chafee to EngageRI: What Are You Hiding?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Governor Lincoln Chafee has added his name to the growing list of critics who are concerned about pension reform advocacy group EngageRI’s refusal to release the names of its donors.

“In this time of public cynicism, it is regrettable that EngageRI would not embrace transparency,” Chafee said Monday. “This decision begs the question: ‘What / who are they hiding?’”

Chafee’s comments came on the same day that EngageRI defended its decision to keep its donors anonymous, arguing that they are not required to releases names based on their status as a 501(c)(4) organization.

“We believe that our supporters (financial and other) are proud of EngageRI and we encourage them to support us publicly,” said John Galvin, chair of EngageRI. “However, we respect the right that any donor to a 501(c)(4) entity has to remain anonymous, supporting a mission without being subject to the ‘political fray.’ Like most, if not all nonprofits, we’re willing to let our record speak for itself and accept the support of both those that wish to do so publicly as well as those that wish to remain anonymous.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Houston billionaire John Arnold gave between $100,000 and $500,000 to EngageRI, which played a pivotal role in convincing lawmakers to support a pension reform package crafted by General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. The organization has spent over $700,000 lobbying for pension reform since it was founded in 2011.

The story led pension reform critics to question who else has contributed to EngageRI, but the organization has consistently defended its practices.

"What I don't think the folks at EngageRI appreciate is each time they try to defend their decision they just sound defensive,” said National Education Association of Rhode Island government relations director Patrick Crowley. “Each time they say they are following the rules they make it clear they have a separate set of rules.”

But Galvin suggested that actions taken against key supporters of EngageRI may be of one the reasons donors wish not to have their names revealed.

“While boycotts and other forms of retribution have frequently been used to further legitimate and worthy social, economic and political goals, we believe that the harassment and boycotts inflicted upon some EngageRI supporters like Collette Vacations, Crossroads, Family Services and a number of local chambers of commerce last year in an effort to intimidate them from taking a position on pension reform both crossed the line of fairness and is an understandable reason why some supporters may want to remain private,” Galvin said.




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And don't forget North Smithfield Fence supported EngageRI. Cancelled with them and had my work done by Pawtucket Fence. Pawtucket Fence did a great job.

Comment #1 by tom brady on 2013 01 08

Pension reform efforts cut across party lines for very obvious reasons. Virtually all of the public corruption over the last several decades comes from the money pot of defined benefit plans.The truth is only a few elite Rhode Islanders are promised million dollar retirements paid by us the taxpayer. I don't understand the public policy that supports this. Government workers already earn more than private sector workers without the pension lottery ticket.It s time to take corruption out of towns and cities . Its time to end compensation that is making us broke . It s time to end defined benefits. Over a million Rhode Islanders dont get guaranteed retirement. Why should anyone?

Comment #2 by michael riley on 2013 01 08

Crowley and Chafee, two of the biggest idiots in this state.

Comment #3 by Patrick Boyd on 2013 01 08

No person, group or entity who seeks to influence the operations of government in any way, size, shape or form should EVER be allowed to do so in anonymity. If the people who support the efforts by EngageRI truly believe in their cause, then they should be known by one and all. If, however, their motivations are anything less than noble and not of benefit to one and all equally, then the taxpayers and voters deserve to know who they are and what they stand for. Secrecy in government is one of the problems that had led us to the sorry state in which we find ourselves and this loophole in the 501(c)(4) law needs to be closed to prevent future abuses and shady backroom deals.

Comment #4 by J. Ferreira on 2013 01 08

Mr. Brady's comment makes the point as graphically as it can be made. There is retribution and it will be felt by anyone who publicly opposes the power figures, governmentally as well as privately (Mr. Crowleuy's employer, the NEA).

Mr. Ferreira might have a point in a perfect world, but that is not R.I. No member-donor of any 501(c)(4) anywhere in the nation, and, thank God, in RI, must be "outed". Until we have that perfect world, and "kumbaya" is a national policy, we must protect the membership of these organizations and allow the citizenry to judge them solely on the basis of the content of their advocacy positions. Efforts to change that are nothing more than shutting down all opposition.

Comment #5 by Harry Staleyu on 2013 01 08

Gina Raimondo probably knows who all of the donors are since she probably asked them for the money for her front-group, EngageRI. Why doesn't the media ask her what she knows??

Comment #6 by Thomas Lessio on 2013 01 08

That's funny. Mike RileysTripleChin posting on a article about transparency.

Comment #7 by Patrick Boyd on 2013 01 08

Hey Mr. Crowley, you're real rabid for this financial information while you and your union hide behind PAC money supplied from the dues of your hard working members. It must be real tough, spending other peoples $$.
How about supplying a list of all the NEA members who disagree with the candidates your union supports financially? Or even the ones who agree. That's if they even dare to express their disagreement for fear of incurring the fury of you and your fellow zealots! Maybe you'd picket their homes too!

Comment #8 by Harold Stassen on 2013 01 08

Transparency? The Governot refuses to disclose what the subjects are for the "Internal Meetings" that fill his schedule. And he is an employee of the taxpayers. Chafee is taling his fat salary, unlike Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, who worked for a dollar a year.

Comment #9 by Michael Trenn on 2013 01 09

taking. Sorry.

Comment #10 by Michael Trenn on 2013 01 09

Transparency? The Governot refuses to disclose what the subjects are for the "Internal Meetings" that fill his schedule. And he is an employee of the taxpayers. Chafee is taling his fat salary, unlike Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, who worked for a dollar a year.

Comment #11 by Michael Trenn on 2013 01 09

More puzzling than who they are is what they're doing. Have they done anything at all since pension reform passed? They seem to have dropped off the public radar. Why this concern all of a sudden?

Comment #12 by Pam Thomas on 2013 01 09

@ Pam: Excellent question. Maybe it's as simple as some people (Mr. Crowley and company)don't like voices of opposition. They've had the sand box all to themselves up until recently and prefer it that way.

@ Michael Trenn: If you haven't figured out by now that Chafee talks out of both sides of his mouth, you never will. Never have I witnessed a more embarrassing elected official.

Comment #13 by Harold Stassen on 2013 01 09

Maybe the “reporters” who make a living commenting on RI’s politics (mud wrestling matches) would be more effective if they began acting like real journalists and exposed the corruption enabled by 501(c)4 “non-profits”. How about it boys and girls, are there any real journalists in RI?

Comment #14 by Charles Marsh on 2013 01 11

Chafee is up against a secret/shadowy money machine. Gina the liar is running against him.
The fact that so many in these comments support unlimited secret money from any source polluting political discourse in this state and elsewhere only shows how broken our moral compass is.
I remember Gov Romney while leaving office buying and destroying all the state PCs used by his staff. Of course they contained years of government emails. All required to be preserved by numerous laws.

Comment #15 by Real Clear on 2013 01 26

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