Matos campaign criticizes Ruggiero’s ad as ‘misleading’ on abortion rights records

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“It’s clear Deb Ruggiero is desperate, but that’s no excuse to lie about Sabina’s record or try to erase Sabina’s accomplishments,” said Matos campaign senior adviser Mike Raia. “Deb is knowingly misleading voters with dirty tactics, and she was hoping she wouldn’t get caught. She needs to take the ad down immediately and she owes Democratic voters an apology.”

On Thursday night, Ruggiero’s campaign spokesman, Joe Caiazzo, said the ad was changed to read: “Deb Ruggiero has a history of co-sponsoring reproductive rights legislation and voted in favor of the Privacy Act.” Reproductive that guarantees the right of women to choose”.

“We made a mistake with the official name of the bill and it has been corrected,” Caiazzo said. “But ultimately, this is another diversionary tactic by the Matos campaign to seek re-election for a full term. He clearly has no record that he can defend, and therefore he will not participate in future debates. If he wants to defend his record on these things, he should debate. He names the time and the place.”

Matos was named lieutenant governor when Daniel J. McKee was elevated to governor after Gina M. Raimondo was appointed US secretary of commerce in March 2021. Matos declined to participate in candidate debates hosted by the station. WPRO-AM radio and WJAR-TV Channel 10 recently. although she participated in a debate on Channel 12 at the end of July.

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In an interview on Friday, Ruggiero said the ad had been changed.

“Hey, listen, I’m a mere mortal,” she said. “I make mistakes. I’m willing to say it’s a mistake. Go ahead. Let’s debate. The real issue is the future of Rhode Island and the office of lieutenant governor.”

Ruggiero explained that she was a co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health Care Act, similar legislation introduced by Rep. Edith H. Ajello to protect the right to abortion. But Ruggiero and many other co-sponsors of that bill were members of the Reform Caucus opposing then-House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, so Mattiello had Rep. Anastasia Williams and some other members of his leadership team endorse a similar bill called the Private Reproductive Act.

The similar bill passed and Ruggiero voted in favor.

On Friday, Raia said Ruggiero is free to promote his own album and said it’s “great” that Ruggiero’s campaign changed the ad copy. But he called the ad for him a form of “gaslighting.”

“But they still put something out there that was an absolute lie,” he said. “Trying to deny a woman of color’s contribution to advancing abortion rights is outrageous.”

Raia described Matos as “a lifelong advocate for reproductive rights and abortion” who has used her positions as president of the Providence City Council and lieutenant governor to “push the pro-choice agenda.”

In January 2019, the Providence City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Reproductive Health Care Act, he noted, and Matos was president of the council at the time.

As lieutenant governor, Matos defended by the General Assembly to pass the Abortion Equity Coverage Act, which would provide abortion coverage in health insurance for Medicaid recipients and state employees, and urged Governor Daniel J. McKee to sign the bill if it is aproved.

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McKee, a Democrat now running for a full term, has pledged to sign the bill. But he has faced criticism for not including the Abortion Equity Coverage Act in his budget proposal and apparently not making it a priority in negotiations with the House and Senate.

Ruggiero said, “If elected, I intend to work with the next Governor to get the Abortion Equity Coverage Act into the budget. Why wasn’t it in this year’s budget?

Raia noted that Ruggiero sits on the powerful House Finance Committee, saying she had the opportunity to send the Abortion Equity Coverage Act to the full House for a vote, but voted to retain the bill. law for further study. “Ruggiero did nothing to pressure House leaders to move the EACA forward and she voted to adjourn the General Assembly without taking action on the EACA,” she said.

Ruggiero said he wanted the Abortion Equity Coverage Act to come to the full House for a vote. But she said legislative committees will often initially uphold a bill for further study to allow the public to provide written and oral testimony.

“It’s making sure the public has something to say,” he said. “Nobody presents an invoice that is absolutely perfect. Bills are amended.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.