A tough couple of weeks for corporate darling and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.
First we had her brass-necked refusal to engage in voluntary negotiations with unions suing to overturn pension reform. This despite the fact that Governor Linc Chafee, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (both potential opponents in the 2014 race for the office Our Gina really covets — the governor's), and union officials were calling for a compromise so this thing doesn't become a dog's breakfast in the courts.
Best case, if you go to court, is years of litigation and a bunch of high-priced lawyers getting rich at the state taxpayers expense. Worst case, you lose and state workers get their full benefits again. COLA that, baby.
As many pointed out, there is no harm in trying to reach a settlement — especially because the unions have a very winnable case.
Eventually, a Superior Court judge ordered the two sides into mediation. Now, Gina promises she'll negotiate in "good faith." But her intransigence, of late, didn't win her any admirers.
That wasn't the only recent blow for the treasurer. You also had dear Linc, an independent, suggesting he might seek re-election under the Democratic banner. If this didn't send Raimondo to the liquor cabinet, we'd be surprised. If she has to attack a sitting governor in a primary, there are a lot of Democratic voters with a fondness for Chafee who will object.
Third on the list of darts that nailed Raimondo: revelations that she solicited donations from Houston billionaire John Arnold for her campaign; for a PAC, Hope Now, co-founded by her campaign manager; and for a bought-and-paid-for corporate biz lobbying group, EngageRI, that backed Gina's pension reform last year.
There are a number of troubling things about this tidy out-of-state relationship. Arnold happens to be an ex-Enron trader, which on the face of it should qualify him for a Financial Hall of Shame plaque. (What, couldn't get money from some guy at the giant vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, Gina?) He and his better half ponied up over $100,000 to Engage RI, as well as $2000 to the Raimondo campaign and $2000 to Hope Now. Pretty soon, that adds up to some real money, eh?
Also, Engage RI refuses to reveal its donors, which creates suspicion and ill will. And saying Raimondo has no influence on EngageRI — she claims she has asked them to be transparent, to no avail — is as bogus as Mitt Romney's assertions he didn't coordinate with the conservative PACs that supported his wonderfully inept campaign to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
This whole deal with the Arnolds and EngageRI will come back to haunt Gina if she runs for governor — you can bet the house on that.
Treasurer Raimondo should remember the lesson Mannequin Mitt's campaign taught political insiders: you can draw on the largesse of the wealthy few, but there are a hell of lot of voters who don't cotton to the insider, pay-to-play game, especially one in which the names are hidden.