RI hires $20,000-a-month DC lobbying firm to help secure COVID-19 funding

Politics - Government

The Capitol is framed through a window in the Russell Senate Office Building as lawmakers negotiate on the emergency coronavirus response legislation, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration has hired a leading Washington lobbying firm to press Rhode Island’s case as Congress and the Trump administration steer billions of dollars to states to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The administration hired the firm Peck Madigan Jones on April 17 at a rate of $20,000 a month through the end of the year, according to Charles St. Martin, a state spokesperson. The money will come out of the Department of Administration’s budget.

“The team at Peck Madigan Jones is working to ensure that Rhode Island is able to take full advantage of every dollar our federal delegation has secured to support critical programs in our state and ensuring that as the Trump administration writes guidance it is done in a way that works for Rhode Island,” St. Martin told WPRI 12 in an email.

Sean Richardson, who was chief of staff to former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, is the state’s lead liaison at Peck Madigan Jones. St. Martin said Richardson “leads a bipartisan team that is supporting Rhode Island’s efforts to maximize federal support during this emergency.”

Rhode Island’s state government has at times employed a Washington lobbyist on retainer in years past, as well.

Rhode Island has been awarded roughly $2 billion in new federal funding since the beginning of March, nearly all from the four coronavirus spending bills that Congress has enacted, a Target 12 tally shows. The biggest pot of money is $1.25 billion from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund that U.S. Sen. Jack Reed helped secure during negotiations over that legislation.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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