2021 News & Press


There have been recent news reports on Governor Dan McKee’s cancelation of a fundraiser hosted by Gerry Zarrella, former honorary co-chairman of the Trump’s Rhode Island campaign.

The R.I. Republican Party has the following comments:

“Let’s start out by saying what everybody knows: Governor Dan McKee is weak.

For weeks, McKee and his staff have known about Gerry Zarrella’s involvement in the fundraising event. It was only after the event was reported by the media that McKee decided to cancel the event and in the process, vilify someone who had supported President Trump. McKee did this because he is afraid of his party’s left wing and worried about losing a primary. Instead of trying to govern from the center and appeal to moderates, he is moving left. The problem for McKee is that he will never win over the left in the primary. The left will be voting for progressives like Magaziner or Elorza in the gubernatorial primary, not him.


This week the Senate and House are voting on the Climate Bill, H5445/S0078, which requires Rhode Islanders to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they produce. The bill legally requires dramatic reductions in the amount of greenhouse gases Rhode Island produces starting in 2030. If for any reason, Rhode Island could not achieve these reductions, anyone could file a law suit to force the reductions. Regulations could be imposed limiting what you can buy or making you pay more if you use fossil fuels. This bill could force most people to switch from heating their homes with oil to electricity by 2030 and to switch from heating their homes with natural gas to electricity by 2040. Recently Governor Dan McKee criticized this Climate Bill because it would “likely to lead to expensive, protracted, and vexatious litigation against the State of Rhode Island.”

The R.I. Republican Party has the following comments:


The Senate and the House of Representatives recently voted for legislation to address climate change by requiring Rhode Islanders to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they put into the atmosphere. The bill requires that the amount of greenhouse gases Rhode Island produces be reduced by 45 percent by 2030, by 80 percent by 2040 and reach net zero by 2050. The Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4), which is composed of primarily gubernatorial appointees, would come up with plans to achieve these reductions. Any state agency could be required by EC4 to adopt regulations to implement its plans. These plans would not require the approval of the General Assembly. If for any reason, Rhode Island could not achieve these reductions, anyone could file a law suit to force the reductions. 


Governor Raimondo has placed the nomination of John “Jack” Revens, Jr, Esq. forward to the General Assembly to fill a six year term on the Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) that opens on March 1,2021. Jack Revens is a former Senate Majority leader who served for 20 years in the General Assembly. He is entitled to a state pension, yet has not taken the $12,000 a year payout despite being eligible. The PUC role carries a salary of $ 139,000 a year, which would substantially increase his state pension.

Rhode Island Republican Party Chair Sue Cienki stated, “ Lame duck Governor Raimondo is leaving for Washington, D.C. and should resign to allow Lt. Governor McKee to take the reins and make all appointments to boards and commissions. A lame duck governor helping an ally increase his state pension is nothing more than another act of cronyism at the taxpayers’ expense. Additionally, Rhode Island taxpayers would be better served if the appointment were a person who can commit to the job full time and not someone who spends a significant amount of time in Florida. “

Cienki concluded, “Governor Raimondo has to stop playing political games on her way out the door and allow the Lt. Governor attempt to get Rhode Island back on track”


Today, Sue Cienki, Chairwoman of the R.I. Republican Party, has filed a complaint with the R.I. Ethics Commission regarding Brett Smiley, Governor Raimondo’s Director of Administration, for soliciting donations from state vendors, specifically Colin Kane of the Peregrine Group. Specifically, Kane told WPRI that Smiley had called him a few weeks ago to solicit the donation. This is a clear violation of Regulation 1.4.4(36-14-5011). 
R.I. Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki commented: “Mr. Smiley is getting ready to resign to focus on the next chapter of his public service career. We believe that the next chapter in Smiley’s career shouldn’t begin until a sweeping investigation by the Ethics Commission into his unethical pay to play fundraising is conducted. We also hope that a future chapter in Smiley’s career does not involve Raimondo giving him a job in Washington D.C. Along with committing to keep Huawei on the Entity List, maybe U.S. Senators should demand that Raimondo commit not to put slimy Smiley, her right-hand man, on the federal payroll.”  


Recently, WPRI and the Providence Journal reported how Brett Smiley, Governor Gina Raimondo’s Director of Administration, had taken thousands of dollars in contributions from individuals who are employed by state vendors. This has occurred despite Smiley promising to the Ethics Commission that he would not solicit or accept any campaign contributions from state vendors. So far, Smiley has returned $5,000 in contributions from individuals who are employed by the following state vendors: Shechtman Halperin Savage, Peregrine Group, J.R. Vinagro Corp, Washington Trust, and AAA Northeast. Smiley has not returned contributions from individuals associated with the Rosciti Construction company, or Accenture LLP.  


With Governor Gina Raimondo about to exit, Lt. Governor Dan McKee created a website, mckeetransition.com, to accept applications for anyone wanting to be lieutenant governor. He also placed Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena in charge of screening the applicants. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey indicated that any appointment would require Senate confirmation.
Local historian and R.I. Republican National Committeeman Steven Frias stated: “The last time the office of lieutenant governor became vacant was in 1997. Senate Democrats opposed Governor Lincoln Almond’s plan to fill the vacancy through an appointment. In fact, Senate Democrats passed legislation that would have required the office of lieutenant governor to remain vacant and made any appointment or nomination for lieutenant governor null and void (Senate Bill 97-S0057; Senate Journal 1/21/1997). Senators Maryellen Goodwin and Polisena sponsored the legislation and Senators Dominick Ruggerio and McCaffrey voted for it. Back then, some Democrats like R.I. Democratic Party Treasurer Jack McConnell argued: “Rhode Island taxpayers should not have to bear the full burden of funding for an office for an individual they did not elect and for an unknown agenda that they have not approved.’”