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RI State Report: Surprise Raimondo Donors, Block Turns Republican

Saturday, November 02, 2013


This week’s State Report centers on campaign contributions that likely State Treasurer and likely gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo has received from two unexpected individuals. Aside from individual donors, we’ll also examine newly released third quarter campaign fundraising totals for Raimondo and her expected 2014 gubernatorial opponent Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. Also on the docket, a pair of campaign shakeups: one involving the Taveras camp and another that concerns Ken Block.

Raimondo's Surprise Donors

Earlier this week, GoLocal reported that Ernest P. Baptisa, father of Mayor Angel Taveras' acting spokesman Peter Baptista, and Nicholas Pell, cousin of possible gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell, have both donated to State Treasurer Gina Raimondo—the likely opponent of both Taveras and Pell.

Ernest Baptista's Past Support of Gina Raimondo

Baptista has donated $3,250 to Raimondo, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections. Baptista, a Principal of the Gencorp Insurance Group, made four contributions to Raimondo from 2009 through 2012.

The contribution details are as follows:

  • $250.00 on 12/31/2009
  • $1,000 on 3/26/2010
  • $1,000 on 8/12/2011
  • $1,000 on 3/28/2012


In regard to the contributions, Baptista told GoLocal earlier this week, "Gina's been a friend for 15 years," but did not say whether he'd be supporting her in the upcoming election. Baptista added that he knows all the potential 2014 Democratic gubernatorial contenders personally, including Clay Pell.

Baptista's son Peter, who is the co-founder of the Hamilton Group consulting firm, joined the Taveras campaign team in January. Prior to joining Taveras, Baptista served as deputy campaign manager and finance director for Frank Caprio's 2010 run for governor.

Nicholas Pell's Past Support of Gina Raimondo

Pell, a New York investment banker and cousin of potential 2014 Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell, has donated $2,250.00 to Raimondo over the last four years, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections. Pell, who is the grandson of the late six-term U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, made four contributions to Raimondo from 2009 through 2012.

The contribution details are as follows:

  • $1,000 on 12/26/2009
  • $500 on 3/19/2010
  • $250 on 9/30/2010
  • $500 on 10/17/2012


Pell made the first three contributions while serving as Director in the Investment Department of WP Carey & Co, and made the latest while employed as Managing Director of Investments at Gramercy Capital Corp, which is his current position.

GoLocal contacted Pell on Tuesday to determine whether he would support Raimondo over Clay in a potential Democratic primary, but he declined to comment.

In 2010, Pell considered running for Rhode Island's District 1 Congressional seat after Rep. Patrick Kennedy announced he would not seek reelection.

Pell is a member of Newport Festivals Foundation Board of Directors, which supports the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. Prior to his position at WP Carey & Co., Pell served as Director of Sony Pictures Entertainment from 2002 to 2005.

2014 Governor's Race

Raimondo has not formally announced whether she will run for governor, but has stated that she will make her decision before the end of the year. Taveras formally announced his candidacy on Monday—becoming the first major Democrat to do so.

The Democratic field also includes declared candidate Todd Giroux, who previously ran for governor in 2010, and Pell, who GoLocal first reported earlier this month is considering a run for governor.

Moderate Party founder Ken Block, who GoLocal reported on Monday would run as a Republican in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor's race, is the only official candidate on the Republican side. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, is expected to officially announce his candidacy on Monday, Nov. 4.


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