Democratic Governors Association chairwoman Gina Raimondo is being investigated after her administration awarded a no-bid $1 billion contract to a gambling company connected to the DGA's treasurer.
In June, Raimondo attempted to hand a $1 billion contract to International Game Technology (IGT) to run the state's lottery system and give the company a 32 percent share of newly legalized sports gambling revenue. The no-bid deal raised eyebrows in Rhode Island after it was revealed that DGA treasurer Donald Sweitzer served as the U.K.-based gambling company's lobbyist under a contract that paid him $7,500 a month. IGT has donated $70,000 to Raimondo's election campaigns since 2014.
The state's nonpartisan ethics commission is now investigating Raimondo for potential conflicts of interest following a complaint filed by the state Republican Party. The commission dismissed a secondary GOP complaint alleging that the no-bid contract violated state law.
The state Republican Party petitioned for an investigation in July, pointing to the potential conflicts of interest in the no-bid process. Sweitzer, who served as IGT's chairman before becoming its lobbyist, still owned nearly 60,000 shares in the company, according to the complaint. The filing says the no-bid contract will "increase IGT’s share of Rhode Island lottery revenues from 1 percent to 5 percent between $275 million to $400 million and will change Rhode Island law to give IGT control of 85 percent of the video gaming machines."
"Raimondo violated [the ethics code] when she entered into a new agreement with IGT while Sweitzer, her DGA business associate, was actively lobbying for IGT related to this agreement," the complaint says.
Rhode Island ethics laws prohibit public officials from benefiting themselves or business associates through their positions.