2020 News & Press

Juneteenth – A Look Back and a Vision Forward

Today, June 19, 2020 marks the 155th anniversary of Union army general Gordon Granger’s announcement of federal orders in Galveston, TX proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free. Though Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order freeing all slaves in his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Texas, due to it’s remote location and small presence of Union troops was slow and inconsistent with the observance and enforcement of the new law.

Now known as “Juneteenth”, this day is a celebration started 155 years ago that the scourge of slavery had finally been lifted in America. The struggle for civil rights and a full realization of our founding ideals as a nation was only just beginning, work that continues to this day.


For this inconsequential election, Rhode Island’s election officials decided to spend $458,000 sending out mail ballot applications to 779,463 voters, including those listed as inactive. In response, about 150,000 mail ballot applications were received by the Board of Elections (BOE). However, other completed applications were lost. Although mail ballot applications had come in weeks earlier, many voters did not start receiving their ballots until about a week before the election. As a result, some voters got their mail ballots with little time to send them back. So far, the BOE has received about 92,000 mail ballots. The results of this election may not be known for weeks. The Rhode Island Republican Party has the following comments:

“While we won’t know the results of this flawed election any time soon, we already know this election has resulted in waste and incompetence.

In April, we stated that a predominantly mail ballot election was unnecessary because by June public health restrictions would likely be relaxed. Instead, the Secretary of State went ahead and wasted taxpayer money by sending mail ballot applications to every voter, even inactive voters, although most voters were not interested in this primary election. Because of the push to vote in this election by mail, more people than usual voted by mail. This, in turn, is likely causing the BOE to spend large amounts of money on temporary staff to process this influx of mail ballots. Never in Rhode Island history was so much money wasted on such an unimportant election.


Today, the Ethics Commission rejected the recommendation of its own staff and decided that the revolving door prohibition does not apply to Senator Erin Lynch Prata in her campaign to be a Rhode Island Supreme Court judge. 
RI GOP Chairwoman Sue Cienki commented: “The majority of the Ethics Commission should be embarrassed. It rejected a well-reasoned opinion of its own staff. A Supreme Court judgeship is not an elected constitutional office; it is an appointed position. By opening the revolving door for legislators to go directly to the Supreme Court, a majority on the Ethics Commission voted to go back to the corrupt judicial selection politics that existed a generation ago when two consecutive Chief Justices, who were former legislators, resigned in disgrace.” 


In comments filed today with the Ethics Commission, R.I. Republican National Committeeman Steven Frias explains that neither R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(o) or Ethics Commission Regulation 1.52 (36-14-5007) permit legislators to seek or be appointed to the Supreme Court until one year after he or she has left office. The exception to the revolving door prohibition in R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(o)(4) regarding “a state elected official … seeking or being elected for any other constitutional office” does not apply to an appointment to be a Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court because these justices are not elected by the public and since 1994 they are no longer elected by the Grand Committee of the General Assembly. He also explains if Lynch Prata’s interpretation is adopted, it will represent, at least, a partial return to the embarrassing judicial selection politics of an earlier era and may lead to further undermining of the revolving door ban for other judicial appointments in the future.

Here is an excerpt:

Help Secure Our Elections – Join Our EDO Team!

In these uncertain times, one thing remains clear – the security and integrity of our elections are paramount to our way of life. Volunteering for President Trump and the Rhode Island Republican Party during the mail ballot process, on election day, or during ballot counting is a great way to ensure a fair and honest election.

Our Election Day Operation (EDO) is designed to ensure that everyone that is legally entitled to vote has the opportunity to vote, ONCE! As an EDO volunteer, you will be trained on the elections laws of Rhode Island. You do not have to be a lawyer, you just have to know the rules and we will provide an organized network of assistance to all of our volunteers. Once you are trained, we will coordinate getting you credentialed to work the upcoming election.


The R.I. Republican Party issues the following statement as to the dismal of the complaint filed against Governor Gina Raimondo:

“We are disappointed by the decision of the Ethics Commission. Governor Gina Raimondo and lobbyist Donald Sweitzer worked together as Chairperson and Treasurer to affect and achieve the financial objectives of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA). Sweitzer was called the Treasurer of the DGA in various IRS forms and was referred to as a manager at the DGA. The Ethics Commission ignored this and apparently bought Raimondo’s argument that Sweitzer was not the Treasurer at the DGA because someone else, acting on Sweitzer’s behalf, handled the DGA’s bank accounts. In 2019, the DGA raised over $43.5 million. Does the Ethics Commission really believe that Sweitzer did not play an important leadership role in affecting and achieving the DGA’s financial goals in 2019? The Ethics Commission’s decision just makes it easier for politicians and their lobbyist friends to circumvent the Ethics Code.

Have You Received Your Mail Ballot Application Yet? We Need Your Help!

Did you receive your Presidential Preference Primary in the mail yet? Did you receive more than the actual number of people living in your household?

If you did, we are asking for your help.

While it may not seem to be a big deal to use mail ballots during a pandemic, the implications of this can be devastating.

First, these applications are ONLY for the Presidential Preference Primary (which typically sees low turnout, but in a year where it is essentially an uncontested primary in both parties, the participation will be low.) Basically, Biden will be the Democratic nominee, and President Trump will be the GOP nominee.

This is conditioning voters to accept this type of voting as "normal." It is not normal. It is also setting a precedent if there is no push back, this will become the "new normal." When the fall elections come around, the opportunity for election abuse and voter fraud is huge, and can literally change the outcome of elections all the way from town council, General Assembly, General officers, even Congress.

House Minority Caucus Calls for Reconvening of House Oversight Committee

Rhode Island House Republicans earlier today called for an immediate reconvening of the House Oversight Committee in a letter to Committee Chairwoman Patricia Serpa, outlining numerous issues and polices of concern during the State of Emergency Declaration by Governor Gina Raimondo. The letter, signed unanimously by the House Minority Caucus was sent electronically to Chairwoman Serpa, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Leader Joseph K. Shekarchi and all members of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday, April 21, 2020.




On April 7, 2020, the R.I. State Properties Committee approved a $1.81 million-dollar six-month lease with the Carpionato Group and a $100,000 month-to-month lease with the R.I. Commerce Corporation to be used as field hospitals. Then on April 15, the R.I. State Properties Committee approved a $3.96 million-dollar six-month lease for the Convention Center to be used as a field hospital. The very next day, on April 16, after weeks of refusing to disclose Rhode Island’s coronavirus forecasting model, Governor Gina Raimondo disclosed that hospitalizations from the coronavirus would likely peak around 2,250 on May 3rd. Just two days later, on April 18, Raimondo admitted that she did not expect Rhode Island to have over 2,000 hospitalizations in early May.


Today the R.I. Board of Elections is meeting to consider suspending election laws for the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) election on June 2, 2020. According to prior news reports, the R.I. Board of Elections has voted to suspend various election laws requiring mail ballot envelopes to be signed by witnesses or public notaries. In response, the R.I. Republican Party has filed comments with the Board of Elections expressing its opposition and objection to the suspension of laws designed to safeguard the integrity of elections.

Here are excerpts from these Comments: