Gubernatorial candidate Seth Magaziner today released an update on the status of his call for a People’s Pledge to keep independent expenditures out of the 2022 Democratic primary.

On November 17, 2021, Magaziner sent a letter to his opponents calling on them to meet and formalize the terms of a People’s Pledge to keep dark money out of the race for Governor. The People’s Pledge model has been effective at keeping dark money Super PACs out of the 2012 Massachusetts Senate election and the 2014 Rhode Island Democratic Primary for Governor.

Dark money Super PACs have influenced other elections in Rhode Island, however, including the 2014 and 2018 Democratic primaries for Lieutenant Governor, during which out of state super PACS funded by interests like the Sackler Family, owners of notorious Opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, spent nearly $250,000 in support of Dan McKee’s campaigns.

In his letter, Magaziner requested his opponents respond by November 29, 2021, to indicate their willingness to formalize a People’s Pledge.  A copy of that letter is attached.  Only one of Magaziner’s five opponents responded to the letter- Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.

“I’m disappointed that most of my opponents have not responded to our efforts to keep dark money out of the race for Governor of Rhode Island,” said gubernatorial candidate Seth Magaziner.  “I am deeply concerned about the ways in which unlimited outside money is impacting our democracy and as Democrats, we have the power to do something about it.”

Background On Governor Mckee’s Reliance on Independent Expenditures

50CAN Action Fund PAC, a Washington, DC-based independent expenditure run by Marc Porter Magee, funneled money into both of McKee’s statewide races for Lt. Governor.  The donors who funded those campaigns include the Sackler’s opioid empire, the Waltons, and a company run by Jim McKee, Governor McKee’s brother.  50CAN’s financial supporters include the Walton Family Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation.

  • In 2014, 50CAN spent more than $100,000 in support of McKee in his race for Lt. Governor while attempting to hide its origins.

  • The Providence Journal reported on the travels of the money on September 28, 2014, noting “The money traveled from Bentonville, Ark., to Washington, D.C., to New York City to Hamden, Conn. From there, it went to a Washington, D.C.-based media consulting firm that makes political ads. The beneficiary: Daniel McKee…”

  • Hiding WalMart’s support of McKee.  The Waltons sent $100k to 50CAN who then sent $90k to Moving Rhode Island Forward who in turn spent $83,500 spent on TV ads to support McKee.

  • Hiding the Sackler family’s support of McKee.   On September 5, 2014, Jonathan Sackler donated $20,000 to 50CAN, who sent it to Moving Rhode Island Forward to specifically support McKee.  The Sacklers had also contributed $4,000 directly to McKee’s campaigns.

  • Hiding Jim McKee’s “independent” support.  Terrapin Properties, a company run by McKee’s brother James McKee, contributed $9,000 to Moving Rhode Island Forward on September 5, 2014.  Jim and his wife also donated directly to McKee’s campaign.

  • In 2018, 50CAN spent $125,000 in McKee’s race.

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