WPRI 12 News Washington DC Bureau

RI GOP, First Amendment advocates react to Raimondo’s rare comments

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As an elected official who works for the people of Rhode Island, First Amendment advocates and the state’s Republican Party believe Gov. Gina Raimondo shouldn’t be shielding herself from the media.

Ever since she was nominated to join President Joe Biden’s cabinet as commerce secretary, Raimondo has shied away from public appearances and answering reporters’ questions.

For the first time in weeks, 12 News caught up with Raimondo outside the State House Tuesday night. She said the Biden administration has not requested that she not answer questions.

Her reasoning for stepping out of the spotlight, she said, was to let Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, who will eventually take her place, have a leading role.

“I thought that was appropriate in this transition to let Lt. Gov. McKee step out in front,” she said. “By the way, he’s doing a great job. We talk every day, if not more than once a day, his team and my team are in contact all day long.”

But Justin Silverman of the New England First Amendment Coalition argues that Raimondo’s decision to avoid the press is problematic, especially since she’s still the governor.

“She is a sitting governor and there are a lot of very important questions that need to be asked of her,” Silverman explained.

Raimondo reaffirmed that she will not resign as governor until she’s confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

But Sue Cienki, the chair of the Rhode Island Republican Party, believes Raimondo should resign, so soon-to-be-governor McKee can begin addressing the issues the state is currently facing.

“Why she’s got a toe in Rhode Island and the rest of her body in Washington, D.C., I’m not sure why she is doing that,” Cienki said.

Raimondo credited McKee for quickly getting up to speed with the state’s COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout.

In a statement to 12 News, a spokesperson for McKee said, “We appreciate Governor Raimondo and her team for assisting in this process. Our shared goal is to ensure vaccines reach Rhode Islanders as quickly as possible.”

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