Some Rhode Island Democrats upset over Murdoch donation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Some Rhode Island Democrats are upset that the state party accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the CEO of the parent company of Fox News, saying what he represents is antithetical to the party’s values.

It’s the latest example of the party coming under fire from within this election season, including when it endorsed a Donald Trump voter over an incumbent female lawmaker in the primary.

James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, gave $10,000 to the party’s federal account on Oct. 14, and an additional $11,000 to the party’s state account on Oct. 15, according to filings with state and federal elections officials. He made the donations after giving the maximum $1,000 to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo in September.

Nathaniel Brown, a spokesman for Murdoch’s company did not comment.

Sam Bell, who is running unopposed on Tuesday for a state Senate seat in Providence, said Fox News is not an ethical corporation and is “involved in fanning the flames of pretty disgusting racism.” He called it an “open secret” that such donations are used as a conduit to the Raimondo campaign.

“We need to understand why this contribution was accepted. I think Raimondo should personally answer for that,” Bell said. “I think she should fire whoever signed off on that decision.”

Raimondo’s campaign did not respond to emails seeking comment. Emily Samsel, a spokeswoman for the state party, said Murdoch has made substantial donations to Democrats across the country this year.

“People are paying attention to Rhode Island because of the change that Governor Raimondo and Democrats up and down the ballot have brought to our state over the last four years,” she wrote in an email.

Murdoch has donated to both Republican and Democratic candidates over the years, according to federal campaign finance records.

Nicholas Delmenico, who was recently elected as a member of the Coventry Democratic Town Committee, said the party should give the money back. He said the donation was further evidence of a conservative state party machine that ignores what’s best for the people of Rhode Island, and questioned Murdoch’s motives.

“What’s he getting out of this?” he asked.

Both said the party is too focused on helping Raimondo get re-elected, leaving down-ticket candidates to fend for themselves. In some cases, it has backed more conservative candidates running against incumbents.

One of those incumbents was Rep. Moira Walsh, of Providence, who faced a challenge from a Donald Trump voter who initially won the party endorsement. The endorsement was later rescinded after a dayslong outcry, and Walsh won the primary.

She said the Murdoch donation was just the latest in a long line of problems in party leadership. She said the party should give the money back, but “they’re obviously not going to,” and called for systemic change in the way the party conducts itself.

“To endorse Trump supporters and take money from Murdoch?” she said. “It’s not a great narrative you’re pitching here.”

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