Gaspee Statement re. Bogus Complaint by Progressive Democrats

For Immediate Release:

November 3, 2016



Providence, RI-- As the incorruptible voice of the state's business community and taxpayers, The Gaspee Project (Gaspee) is proud that 100% of its donations are derived from hundreds of local small business owners and concerned taxpayers who want to end the special-interest and insider politics that dominates our state government.

Following last week’s demonstrably false claims against Gaspee by the RI Democrat Party, a mistake-riddled complaint was filed yesterday with the Rhode Island Board of Elections by Sam Bell of the RI Progressive Democrats against the Gaspee Business Network (GBN).

“Apparently Rhode Island Democrats do not believe that every American has the right to support the causes they believe in, and that they can disagree with their government, without fear of political recrimination or physical retribution,” said Mike Stenhouse, Interim Director for The Gaspee Project. “As has been affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, individuals and businesses have the right support candidates of their choice. Labeling legitimate donations as ‘dark money’ is ignorant and is intended to discourage people from participating in the electoral process. The Gaspee Project and its hundreds of donors will not be bullied or silenced.”
“The Gaspee Project has met with officials at the RI Board of Elections on numerous occasions in order to understand and comply with election reporting laws. This complaint - a laughable, bogus, and desperate political flailing by Mr. Bell - demonstrates the incompetence and pettiness of his RI Progressive Democrats.”

"More disconcerting, however, is that operatives like Mr. Bell continue to hammer away at donor privacy in a state where political retribution is a way of life. It is his goal to stifle dissent, to gag free speech, and to drive people away from supporting civic causes by harassing donors and shaming anyone who dares hold an opinion different from theirs.”“We, on the other hand, support his right to disagree with us. We would just prefer he not be so sloppy when he does so," concluded Stenhouse.


1. The basis of Mr. Bell’s complaint is that there exists a legal entity called the Gaspee Business Network. Mr. Bell and his Progressive Democrats apparently did not do their homework and are obviously misinformed about how The Gaspee Project is structured. The Gaspee Project is honored that hundreds of hard working men and women have organized and support the Gaspee Business Network (GBN). GBN describes that grassroots network (or community organization if that phrase is more familiar to Mr. Bell), but GBN is a project of a legal entity - The Gaspee Project, Inc.

2. There is no “dark money.” All aggregate donations from individuals or businesses of $1000 or more, raised for The Gaspee Project, Inc. or GBN have been reported as required by law by The Gaspee Project, Inc. If by “dark money” Mr. Bell means the small donations provided by hundreds of small business and regular Rhode Islanders who are fed up with his party's heavy-handed control and failed policies, then we suggest he say so.

3. There has been zero “outside money” donated to The Gaspee Project, unless Mr. Bell is referring to money from ‘outside’ the circle of insider donors that fund his party's operations each year.

4. The Gaspee Project is not the electioneering arm of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which would be illegal for the 501(c)(3) Center (as the leader of Bell’s party Speaker Mattiello discovered this week.) The Gaspee Project is a separate and independent corporate entity with its own board, its own federal tax-ID number, and which has been approved by the IRS as a valid 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.

5. The Gaspee Project, Inc. has filed all required disclosures with the state.

6. There are no separate disclosures from GBN, because there is no separate legal entity called GBN. 

7. Gaspee advises its donors how to comply with the law, not how to “evade” it.

8. The Gaspee Project, Inc. has disclosed its spending to date on its most recent campaign finance report.

9. There is zero Gaspee connection to the Koch brothers.

10. There is zero Gaspee connection to the Trump campaign.

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