After a recent blog post discussing John Hazen White, CEO of TACO Industries hedging his bets in the 2014 gubernatorial race, the CEO has responded. See the blog, here.
"My lack of endorsement is much less about hedging my bets than it is about being fair to the employees at Taco. I try to encourage them to vote, and to think hard and pay attention when deciding on a candidate. If I endorse, I think it would somehow cloud that issue. I also think, and said at Allan's announcement, that we have four very qualified candidates. I look forward to hearing what their positions are in greater detail. I am not by any means trying to make nice-nice so I come out on top," explained White.
White said that while he could understand the appearance of the donations, hedging bets wasn't his intention. He said he just happens to be friendly with Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, Allan Fung, and Ken Block. Interestingly enough, Taveras's mother is a former employee of TACO Industries.
Meanwhile, White is still going forward with plans to speak at a Block fundraiser on March 4. He has yet to cut a check to the Block campaign but notes that he is friends with the candidate.
In 2013, White made $1,000 donations to Fung, Raimondo, and Taveras.
White is not the only person in the business community to have donated to multiple candidates in the same race. Another example, is Attorney John Harpootian, a former first vice chairman of the Republican Party. Now Harpootian is on Allan Fung's campaign finance committee but in 2010 Harpootian cut checks to both Republican John Robitaille and Independent Lincoln Chafee. At the time Harpootian was involved in the Republican Party.
Currently, Fung is the only gubernatorial candidate to receive a check from Harpootian in 2013.
Another popular stomping ground for candidates who have just made their gubernatorial announcements is the Alex and Ani Headquarters in Cranston. So far, Democrat Angel Taveras and Republican Allan Fung have officially toured the facility and made a media event out of it. The tours mean nothing in the way of endorsement, however, the candidates like to show their support for Rhode Island's fastest growing business.
In a small state like Rhode Island it is not overall surprising that businessmen and women may be divided between multiple candidates. It is also common on a national scale, where it is common place for CEO's to write checks to multiple candidates in the same race.
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Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.