No one will argue that jobs-growth and economic development are crucial topics to be addressed by the state’s gubernatorial candidates. However, Gina Raimondo’s recent choice of companies with which to publicly associate shed light on her lack of authentic integrity.
Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island general treasurer and one of the Democrats running for governor, has yet again, demonstrated an opportunistic approach to campaigning by touring Groov-Pin, a Rhode Island company that manufactures parts used in guns. This comes on the heels of a financial maneuver, successfully persuading the Rhode Island Investment Commission to divest retirement money from firearms companies. Madam Treasurer’s contradicting priorities multiply with her stance on “common sense gun laws.” Raimondo has publicly spoken about restricting access to assault weapons in Rhode Island. But, of all the Rhode Island companies Madam Treasurer could have exploited her high public profile to promote, she chose a manufacturing company that produces parts used in guns.
Groov-Pin Corporation is a Smithfield, Rhode Island-based design and manufacturing company that produces application components used in many mechanical devices. However, some of the components that ship from the company find their way into guns as firing pins, magazine releases, rail mount hardware and other inner workings for guns. Candidate Raimondo has marketed her Smithfield origins. She has also emphasized her father’s occupation as a factory worker (he was a metallurgist) at the Bulova watch company.
What seems glaringly obvious is Raimondo’s lack of regard for her own convictions. There are plenty of choices in Rhode Island of companies that embrace her purported core values and platform proposals. She could have chosen a green energy start up. She could have toured a tech company. Instead, she pandered to concerns over public outcry at pension investments in gun companies but played politics to numbers when it came to advertising her image as a manufacturing job creator and a student of successful business practice.
Reality check. Rhode Island leads the nation in manufacturing job decline. Between 1990 and 2013, manufacturing jobs dropped by 56.4% from almost 93,700 to 40,400. Manufacturing is a valuable resource where it still exists, but it is not an industry with hope of expansion as Rhode Island’s answer to its labor market woes. Raimondo may push her common sense gun laws but she is not demonstrating common sense concerning economic growth. Rather, she is once again proving her deficient progressive values by exchanging integrity for opportunism and placing political profit over people. Her gun reform position was one of the few remaining progressive policies to which left leaning Democrats could still cling. But the Treasurer’s decision to publicize a company whose profits come from the manufacture of firearms components shreds any semblance of her dedication to anything but her own rise to power.
If Gina Raimondo wants to demonstrate a commitment to authentic integrity and commitment to Rhode Island’s well-being, she should would do well to promote businesses that model upward economic mobility as well as her own agenda of divestment from profits derived from gun sales. But that isn’t really what she wants. Is it?