- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island GOP on Monday objected to an ad for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gina Raimondo that the Republicans claim violates at least the spirit of election law, but state Democrats and her campaign called the complaint baseless.

Much of the 30-second TV spot is identical to one the general treasurer ran during the primary touting her job-creation experience. It differs in cutting briefly to her with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, with the narrator saying they’ll work together on her plan to bring manufacturing jobs back to Rhode Island.

Reed, the senior member of the state’s congressional delegation, also appears briefly at the end to “approve” the message. The words “Vote for Rhode Island’s Jack Reed” appear on the screen.

The state Democratic Party is spending about $90,000 to air the ad, according to Raimondo campaign manager Eric Hyers. It began airing Monday and is expected to be up for a week.

Mark Smiley, chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, said the state coordinated spending limit of $25,000 should apply because the ad promotes Raimondo, not Reed - who appears for a total of about four seconds. State Democrats say a higher federal cap applies because the ad urges voters to vote for Reed, or “express advocacy” of a federal candidate.

Said Smiley: “They need to follow the law correctly. That’s certainly not within the spirit of the law. If it was about Jack Reed, why is Gina even in it?”

He said the party plans to file complaints with federal and state elections officials and go to court to seek to have the ad stopped.

State Rep. Joseph Shekarchi of Warwick, who is leading the state Democrats’ coordinated campaign, said in a statement that Smiley “simply doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

“Because this ad supports Jack Reed, it is governed by federal law,” he said. “It is subject to the federal coordinated spending limits and not the state’s coordinated spending limits. It must be, and was, paid for by the party’s federal account.”

Also Monday, Raimondo’s Republican challenger, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, released a TV ad criticizing her for supporting repayment of the bonds that financed the 38 Studios deal for ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s failed video game company. It says Raimondo is looking out for Wall Street, not Main Street - the same jab used by one of her primary opponents, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee and House and Senate leaders also support repaying the bonds, saying that walking away would hurt the state’s bond rating and damage the state economically.

Fung doesn’t back repayment. He has said a state-commissioned report that found it was in the state’s best interest to make the payments - about $12.5 million annually - provided “alarmist” conclusions.

Rhode Island still owes about $89 million related to the transaction.

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