State Representative Mike Ramone has been representing the 21st RD since 2008. He was elected that year over Patricia Creedon, 55% to 45%. And he has not faced a contested election since. Not in a primary. Not from a Democrat. Those ten years of free elective office have spoiled Mr. Ramone. He feels entitled to the office now, so much so he is outraged that he faces opposition this year.
He says so frequently to even Democratic lawmakers. “Can you believe I have an opponent?!” Apparently Mr. Ramone is so shocked that an opponent dared to challenge his august presence that he has harassed and implicitly threatened a local nonprofit pet therapy company with the loss of Grant-in-Aid funding over its employment and alleged endorsement of his opponent, Stephanie Barry.
To be clear, this organization, PAWS for People, located in Newark, Delaware, did not endorse or support its employee, Mrs. Stephanie Barry, as a political candidate in any way. When Mrs. Barry filed to run for State Representative in the 21st RD on June 29, 2018, she supposedly sent a Facebook message to friends seeking their support for her campaign. In this message, she apparently thanked her employer, PAWS, for allowing her the ability to run for office. Mr. Ramone and/or his supporters, some of whom possibly received that message, took that post to mean that PAWS had endorsed Mrs. Barry in an official capacity.
Blue Delaware has obtained information and documentation detailing what Mr. Ramone did next. On July 10, 2018, Mr. Ramone emailed an official at PAWS concerning Mrs. Barry’s employment and PAWS’ alleged endorsement of her:
“As you may know Mrs. Barry is running for the 21st representative seat. I only wanted to ask for some clarity on posts made about PAWS. Could I please see a copy of that policy [of no endorsements in political campaigns by PAWS]. I was just confused about PAWS endorsement of my opponent (as written in her posts) without ever speaking with me. I thought that odd viewing the fact were a Grant and Aid recipient and was looking for some direction but a copy of your policy would help me better understand.”
Emphasis added. He copied Michael Morton on this email. Mr. Morton is the General Assembly’s Controller General. The Controller General is the General Assembly’s version of a Budget Director. He is someone officials at PAWS would know as their Grant-in-Aid requests each year would be sent to Mr. Morton. This action bolsters the implication that Mr. Ramone was indeed threatening the loss of or at least review of PAWS’ Grant in Aid funds if they did not take an “appropriate action” with respect to Mrs. Barry.
Later that day, on July 10, 2018, after a response from a PAWS official denying that the organization had endorsed Mrs. Barry, Mr. Ramone again emailed an official in the organization:
“I only requested a copy of your “strict” policy so I could understand the position taken by PAWS and their decision to not speak to any political candidates as stated by [PAWS official]. I requested clarity since on Mrs. Barry’s post it states she is being supported by PAWS and she then requests monetary support from those whom she solicited.”
“Being on JFC and being the Representative which reviewed PAWS Grant and Aid request, I was the person who recommended PAWS get additional funding from last year. Having done that, I wanted to be certain PAWS was not supporting a political candidate through any “support,”either financially nor looking away while hours are adjusted for the Candidate/Employee; while campaign needs are addressed.”
Emphasis added again. Twice Mr. Ramone mentions PAWS’ grant in aid funding that he alone allegedly procured for them while questioning if the organization supports in any conceivable way their employee’s campaign against him. Nice funding you got there. Shame if anything were to happen to it. Mr. Ramone concludes his second email with “I will leave this to you to resolve in a consistent fair manor.”
Mrs. Barry’s employment with PAWS was terminated on August 29, 2018.