PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A newly registered federal campaign committee has been formed to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes.
4RI PAC was registered with the Federal Election Commission last week as a super PAC that can make independent election expenditures. Two people familiar with the group’s plans who were not authorized to discuss it publicly said the organization plans to raise money to support Foulkes.
Foulkes, a former CVS Health executive, is a first-time candidate who announced last October she would challenge incumbent Gov. Dan McKee in the Democratic primary. Three other Democrats are also running — Matt Brown, Nellie Gorbea and Luis Daniel Muñoz.
Foulkes raised nearly $1 million for her campaign during the final three months of last year, an indication of her deep-pocketed network of friends and supporters. Unlike Foulkes’ campaign, which can’t take more than $1,000 a year from any donor under state law, a super PAC can accept unlimited amount of money from contributors.
4RI PAC’s bare-bones website, registered late last month, makes no mention of Foulkes.
“Everyone in the Ocean State deserves a good education, a well-paying job, and elected officials who fight for their best interests,” it says. “Let’s do everything to ensure a bright future for the state. Contact us to learn more.”
Talia Policelli, who worked for former Gov. Gina Raimondo and is co-founder of a firm along with former Raimondo finance director Kate Ramstad, is listed as the contact for 4RI PAC. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The treasurer of 4RI PAC is listed as Ben Martello, a former advisor to Massachusetts Congresswomen Niki Tsongas and Lori Trahan. He now owns North Side Ventures, a Lowell-based consulting firm whose services include campaign-finance compliance. Martello did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
During Rhode Island’s last gubernatorial election cycle in 2018, independent expenditure organizations that received financial backing from the Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association — named Alliance for a Better Rhode Island and Rhode Island Forward, respectively — both registered as federal super PACs.
While the GOP-backing Rhode Island Forward’s FEC account has been closed, the Democratic-backing Alliance for a Better Rhode Island’s account is still active. Asked whether the DGA plans to use Alliance for a Better Rhode Island again in this cycle, spokesperson Christina Amestoy declined to say.
“Protecting our incumbent Democratic governors is the top priority for the DGA,” Amestoy said in an email. “We are proud to support Governor McKee in his reelection bid and look forward to keeping Rhode Island blue this November.”
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook