Sep 17

Losing GOP House candidate blasts winner: ‘If they had met you they never would have voted for you’


Image: Steve Garvie / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Eric Rottenecker won’t be attending the Republican unity breakfast. The Navy veteran from Bristol was one of three Republicans competing to represent Grafton District 9 in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He came up short in the primary, losing to incumbent Jeff Shackett and Free Stater activist Robert Hull.

In a letter to the editor of the Laconia Daily Sun, Rottenecker blasted Hull and declared his intent to wage a write-in campaign for the seat. “Just pick up a pen on Nov. 4,” he wrote. “Mistakes can be corrected:”

Bob Hull, the man nobody knows without those signs, or mailers, or full-page advertising, is a free-stater from the town of Grafton. He lives in a commune of free-staters sharing the same address. For those of you who did vote for him and don’t know what a free-stater is, I’ll clue you in: they had unsuccessfully pushed for a resolution to get Grafton to secede from the United Nations, arguing that the U.N. could potentially obtain the authority to impose its own taxes or invade the town. They don’t believe in government. They would like to do away with the Constitution, and are very big on guns. […]

One question I would like to ask of Mr. Hull: why did you sit in your car in the corner of the parking lot all day at the Bristol polls Tuesday and not stand and greet your voters? I’ll answer it for you. If they had met you they never would have voted for you.

One more thing, as soon as the polls closed he ran inside to see what the count was, picked up his signs and beat feet out of there. This is going to be our next Republican representative for the Newfound Lake Region. People, the next time you vote for someone, if you don’t know anything about the candidate then pass over them. Stop wasting your vote on lawn signs.

Mixed signals from N.H. GOP platform committee


Revisions to the New Hampshire Republican Party platform proposed by the platform committee send a set of contradictory messages.

They propose removing a reference to “traditional families” as the “foundation of strong communities” — but continue to declare marriage is a “legal union between one man and one woman.”

They propose removing language opposing “Sharia Law, the International Baccalaureate Program, UN Agenda 21 or other ‘sustainable development’ programs” — but they oppose the implementation of Obamacare.

They propose removing a reference supporting “organizations who provide alternatives to abortions” — but leave intact a commitment to “implement all possible legal protections” for "the unborn child’s fundamental right to life."

There is dissent. One delegate proposed eliminating the anti-choice language. “This sentence sounds very threatening,” she wrote. “To implement all possible legal protections. I’m concerned that women seeking an abortion, which is their moral choice, good or bad, will be criminalized. The sentence could sound like the war on women the democrats talk about.” The committee rejected her recommendation.

When the Republican State Committee holds its 2014 Convention on Saturday, delegates will be called upon to ratify the platform revisions. The delegates were chosen by Republican voters in last week’s primary election. Tea Party and Free Stater activists had worked to increase their representation at the convention. Saturday, we’ll learn if they were any more successful than their candidates for Governor and the U.S. Senate.

Sep 16

Former White House counsel: Lessig underestimates collateral damage from Stark 360 partnership

Lessig at Netroots Nation 2008 by tombrown91, on Flickr

Image: Tom Brown / CC BY-SA 2.0 

Bob Bauer, former White House counsel to Pres. Obama, notes the single-issue approach to campaign finance reform practiced by Prof. Lawrence Lessig and Mayday.US comes at a considerable cost in means and ends:

It relies on money to achieve its goal; it insists that all other policy objectives should be subordinated to it; and it aims to be the decisive factor in the election of candidates who have tacked campaign finance reform onto platforms consisting of the repeal of health care reform, opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, support for NRA gun rights policies, and serious discussion of impeachment as a means of expressing opposition to the policies of the current administration.

The man Lessig calls “one of the truly great lawyers of our time" says it is fair for progressives — the natural constituency for Lessig’s scheme to reform campaign finance — to ask how much collateral damage is acceptable. Bauer points to Mayday’s New Hampshire partnership with Stark 360, a group with links to the Free State Project, as a case in point. Lessig “underestimates the burden he carries to establish for progressives that the means are well fitted to his ends,” writes Bauer:

In the case of Stark360, Prof. Lessig assigns little significance to the longer-term consequences of aligning Mayday with this organization. For one thing, he has lent it credibility or at least brought to it national attention—not many outside of New Hampshire had heard of it, until Mayday joined forces with it. Stark360 can transfer this fresh political capital to other initiatives progressives energetically oppose. This is politics, after all, and Professor Lessig and Mayday have helped to promote Stark360 overall.

Moreover, it will be little solace to progressives that Stark360, like Mayday, supported Jim Rubens for the United States Senate in New Hampshire. It supported Rubens for entirely different reasons and utterly opposed electing him for the reason motivating Mayday. So if Rubens had been elected, to whom in this alliance would he have owed his allegiance—the organization in the coalition that wants public financing reform, or the one very much against it? It seems this is quite a muddled politics that can only send the candidate Mayday is supporting a mixed message about what level of obligation he actually carries into office as a campaign finance supporter.

Sep 14

Today’s question: Is it best to openly identify with Free State Project or hide the information?


Image: / CC BY 3.0

In its 2014 candidate questionnaire, the New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers asked, "Are you a member of the Free State Project or NH Liberty Alliance?"

State House candidate Amanda Bouldin posted a copy of the questionnaire on the NHLA Facebook page. The audience there was not amused.

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?" wrote FSP president Carla Gericke. “By which we mean: are you a member of ANY union? We should do our own questionnaire. Stark360.”

”# Winning,” wrote Rep. JR Hoell (R-Dunbarton). “When AFT needs to target your group by name, then you know you are being effective.”

Much of the ensuing discussion assumed voters are wary of Free Staters simply because they have moved here from out of state.

House candidate Bill Walker noted former Rep. Seth Cohn “used to have a good list of Democrats that had moved here… it was over half of their reps.”

I didn’t make the list, I can’t recall who did,” replied Cohn. “I’d talk to O’Brien, he might recall who (Greg Moore? Pam Tucker?) put together the list of hometowns for Reps in 2011 when this last was raised.”

One person asked the obvious question: “What answer is best to give?”

" *ahem* I said teachers union," answered Bouldin.

"I meant it more as a general question," he replied. "Is it best to openly identify, come what may re: consequences, or should one hide the information to get into a better position?”

Bouldin dodged the question. “I believe, in general, candidates don’t take surveys that they don’t think they can ‘pass,’ ” she wrote.

Sep 12

Crazy money: Questions arise over Stark 360 payments to company led by PAC chairman



The libertarian super PAC that received over $100,000 in funding from Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday PAC has reported transferring $20,000 to a company headed by its chairman, leading one former lawmaker to question the legality of the action.

DailyKos diarist DocDawg first reported the transfer, which was documented in a FEC filing by Stark 360 PAC. On September 5, Stark made two separate $10,000 payments to ARD Ventures, a company led by Stark chairman Aaron Day. Stark made the independent expenditures on behalf of Marilinda Garcia for Congress and U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens for “GOTV activities.”

"[C]razy money going everywhere," tweeted former GOP state Rep. Jon Richardson (R-Allenstown) when he read reports of the payments, “how is the 20K legal?”

ARD Ventures describes itself as a technology-focused venture capital firm that has “founded, advised, and invested in ground breaking seed and early stage companies” since 1995.

The ARD Ventures website, which has been offline since this story broke, identifies Day as the company’s managing partner and founder. The company’s advisory board includes Matt Philips, who is also on the Stark 360 board of directors, District 18 state Senate nominee Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) and GOP gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway.

ARD Ventures was also in the news recently when Sheriden Brown, a one-time aide to former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office accusing Hemingway of willfully concealing a campaign donation from Day. Hemingway reported a June 6, 2014 contribution of $2500 from ARD Ventures but did not include Day’s name in the report. The Hemingway campaign blamed the omission on a software glitch.

Brown’s complaint noted, “No entity or trade name of ‘ARD Ventures’ is filed with the New Hampshire Department of State Corporations Division.” Our search of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Corporate Database indicates ARD Ventures LLC was registered as a Domestic Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Massachusetts on August 29, 2008.

In the filing, Day was identified as the company’s resident agent and only manager. On April 19, 2011, ARD Ventures was formally dissolved by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Sep 10

N.H. House primaries: Highlights and lowlights

I Voted! by Vox Efx, on Flickr

Image: Vox Efx / CC BY 2.0 

The 2014 New Hampshire primaries are in the books. Here are a few of the results from House of Representatives contests that caught our eye.

Goffstown: The center holds

Barbara Griffin and David Pierce, accused by Free Staters and Tea Partiers of being “long-time Democrats and big government apologists,” won handily in the Hillsborough District 6 GOP primary. Free Stater Rep. Calvin Pratt, the only incumbent in the race, and James Butcher, Mark Warden’s protege,” lost.

A Free Stater hat trick for Manchester Democrats

Newcomers Elizabeth Edwards (Manchester Ward 4) and Amada Bouldin (Manchester Ward 5) joined Rep. Tim O’Flahery (Manchester Wards 4-7) as winners representing the Free State Project in Queen City Democratic primaries.

Oops he did it again

Rep. Kyle Tasker, Nottingham, the accidental gun slinger who makes frequent headlines with his impolitic and offensive comments, was the top vote-getter in the Rockingham District 2 GOP primary.

Blasts from the past

David Bates, Windham, best remembered most for “chasing homosexuals” and sponsoring legislation to repeal marriage equality won his Republican primary in Rockingham District 7. As did Jerry Bergevin, Manchester, in Hillsborough District 45. Rep. Bergevin made national headlines in 2012 when he claimed teaching the theory of evolution led to Nazi atrocities and the Columbine school shooting.

To err is human

The Democratic candidate known as human lost his bid for the House after winning his fight with the DMV over his COPSLIE vanity license plate. The Rochester resident received 30 votes in the Strafford District 22 primary.

N.H. Senate nominee George Lambert responds to Vaillancourt prediction of his demise



Predictions of my political demise by Rep Steve Vaillancourt appear to be greatly exaggerated,” Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) wrote on Facebook after his convincing win over Manchester School Board member Robyn Dunphy in the District 18 state Senate primary.

Lambert was reacting to a piece the outspoken Manchester Representative had posted on his blog yesterday predicting Lambert would lose:

In District 18 (Manchester Wards 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and Litchfield), look for Ward 6 School Board member Robyn Dunphy to handily turn back Litchfield Rep George Lambert who is unique in the political world. I happen to like many politicians (mostly Democrats) with whom I disagree on issues, but Lambert is about the only person I’ve ever agreed with on most issues but still manage to despise. Only he could get away with heckling an homage to the late Warren Rudman on the House floor and then be allowed to stand at the well while voting was in progress. To know George Lambert is to never vote for him, and I suspect he’s well enough known now to be gone forever. Besides, I’ve received two very effective mailings from Dunphy and nary a word from Lambert.

Lambert posted a picture of a large black bird amid a formal place setting and wrote, "In response I offer Steve an invitation to a meal, here is a little bit of crow for him to chew on."

Sep 08

N.H. House races we’ll be watching: Free Staters dressed in blue


Image: Lance W. Haverkamp / CC0 1.0

State House Rep. Mark Warden (R-Goffstown) instructs Free Staters running for political office to select a political party based on “whichever party you’re more likely to get elected.”

Nine Democrats running for the New Hampshire House of Representatives this year have been endorsed by the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance and all of them are closely associated with the Free State Project. Seven of the NHLA-endorsed Democrats are in contested primaries:

James Cleaveland, is one of two Democrats running in Keene Ward 1, one of the most Democratic House districts (PVI D+25) in the state. Cheshire District 4 is a single member district,

Conan Salada, is one of three Democrats vying for two seats in the floterial district comprising Keene Wards 1-5. Cheshire District 16 is a heavily Democratic (PVI: D+18) district.

Tom Ploszaj, Grafton, is one of two Democrats running in Grafton District 17, a single member floterial district. The district is a Democratic-leaning (PVI: D+3) district currently held by Democrat Carol Friedrich who is not seeking reelection.

Elizabeth Edwards, Manchester, is one of three Democrats contending for two seats in Manchester Ward 4. Hillsborough District 11 is a Democratic-leaning district (PVI: D+7).

Amanda Bouldin, Manchester, is one of three Democrats running in Manchester Ward 5, a two-seat district. Hillsborough District 12 is a solidly Democratic (PVI: D+11) district.

Incumbent Michael Garcia, Nashua, is one of four Democrats vying for three seats in Nashua Ward 7. Hillsborough District 34 is a Democratic-leaning (PVI: D+4) district.

Incumbent Tim O’Flaherty, Manchester, is one of five Democrats contending for three seats in Hillsborough District 43, a Democratic-leaning (PVI: D+3) floterial district comprising Manchester Wards 4-7.

N.H. House races we’ll be watching: Goffstown

Goffstown New Hampshire by Talk Radio News Service, on Flickr

Image: Talk Radio News Service / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

In many ways, Goffstown in ground zero in the Republican family feud between party regulars and a rival group of Tea Partiers and Free Staters.

The insurgent faction is represented by state House Reps. John Hikel and Mark Warden, who are not running for re-election, and John Burt, who is running for reelection in Goffstown’s floterial district, Hillsborough 39. Former Rep. Pam Manney, who maintains a website in which she catalogs their transgressions, is the most outspoken of the party regulars.

Round one in the skirmish went to the moderates. In municipal elections last spring, Burt was defeated in his race for selectman by a two to one margin. Planning Board incumbents Hikel and Warden lost their reelection bids by similar margins in what conservative radio host Rich Girard described as “a good ol’ fashioned you know what whoopin.’ “

Round two battle lines have been drawn for tomorrow’s New Hampshire House primary where nine Goffstown Republicans are vying for five slots in Hillsborough District 6.

In a letter to the editor of the Goffstown News, “Beware of RINOs in this year’s Republican Primary,” Warden singled out former selectmen Barbara Griffin and David Pierce as “long-time Democrats and big government apologists.”

Letters defending Griffin and Pierce criticized “Warden and his cronies” who “let their votes be dictated by the radical agendas of outside organizations.” They turned their fire on James Butcher, who has been endorsed by Burt, Hikel and Warden, for attempting to mislead voters and for being Warden’s “protege.”

Tomorrow’s Goffstown vote could provide some insight into how the battle between the GOP’s warring factions is playing out.

Sep 07

Mayday PAC faces backlash over payment to Free Stater group, Lessig defends action


In a spirited Twitter exchange with angry New Hampshire politicians and activists, Mayday PAC founder Prof. Lawrence Lessig defended his PAC’s payment to a New Hampshire group with links to the Free State Project.

The backlash came in response to our report that Stark 360, a super PAC led by the chairman of the Free State Project, pocketed $103,500 from Mayday. The libertarian group received the funding despite Chairman Aaron Day’s opposition to campaign finance reform efforts by Open Democracy, Lessig’s NH Rebellion partner.

"Am I accused of working w/ people I disagree w/ on an issue we agree on?" Lessig asked. "Guilty. That’s the premise of democracy."

"Stark360/Kostric don’t agree with you on CFR," answered state House Rep. Peter Sullivan (D-Manchester). "They’re using you to screw with Brown because they see him as insufficiently pro-gun."

"The Free Staters are laughing at you for being so willing to turn liberal dollars over to right wing ideologues," added Susan Bruce.

Lessig said the funding was “just covering costs” of joint work in support of U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens.

"Pls do better [homework]," wrote Dean Barker. "FSP is anti-gov’t & secessionist. They are skilled at manipulating others to further their cause. Some of that $103.5k could be used to elect FSPers to the #NHHouse who will gladly dismantle campaign finance laws."

"It is being used to boost turnout among hardline right wingers," added Sullivan. "The legislators they elect will kill NH CFR efforts."

"[P]eter you are misstating the facts," wrote Lessig.

"No, sir, you are oblivious about the reality of the situation on the ground in NH," Sullivan answered. "Drive the hour up 93 and meet the people you are funding. Not CFR supporters."

"[Y]ou are mistaken about what our money is supporting - and if you are not they bought a lawsuit," replied Lessig.

Update: Lessig addressed the issue in his blog. A brief excerpt:

Supporters of Mayday.US are RIGHTLY asking the question why we would be ‘supporting’ an organization that doesn’t support campaign finance reform.

"The question is correct. The premise is not. We are not supporting the organization at all. We are supporting joint activities designed to benefit the common ground we have found — support for Jim Rubens in the Republican primary — and only that common ground.”

Sep 06

Mayday PAC jumps the shark with $103K donation to N.H. libertarian group that opposes its efforts


Image: / CC BY 4.0

In a move likely to alienate many Granite Staters, a national organization dedicated to ending the corrupting influence of special interest money in politics has donated over $100,000 to a New Hampshire group whose leader actively opposes its efforts.

Mayday PAC is the super PAC created by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig to help elect candidates to Congress who will reform the way political campaigns are funded. New Hampshire political committee reports indicate the group recently donated $103,500 to Stark 360, a new super PAC dedicated to transforming the Republican Party to a “party of liberty.”

Lessig launched his effort to curb special interest money in politics with NH Rebellion, a campaign inspired by Doris Haddock. In 1999, the 88-year old grandmother known as Granny D walked from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to promote campaign finance reform.

The professor and activist partnered with Open Democracy, the New Hampshire organization founded by Granny D. In January, Lessig and supporters walked the length of New Hampshire, from Dixville Notch to Nashua, to publicize the campaign.

Open Democracy then focused on passing legislation in New Hampshire that requires the full disclosure of political spending by special-interest organizations. That legislation, Senate Bill 120, was approved by the New Hampshire legislature in June and signed into law by Gov. Hassan.

Meanwhile, Lessig announced the formation of Mayday PAC and raised over $7 million in the first two months. One of the first candidates the group endorsed was Jim Rubens, who is running in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

Stark 360 also endorsed Rubens, citing his support for “repealing Obamacare, auditing the Federal Reserve, and defunding the NSA.” A portion of the Mayday funding is reportedly going to pay campaign workers who participate in Stark’s Anybody But Brown campaign.

Stark’s chairman, Aaron Day, wears several libertarian hats. He chairs the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, which works to elect libertarian Republicans. Day is also chairman of the Free State Project, the controversial group attempting to persuade 20,000 “liberty-loving” individuals to move to New Hampshire and “exert the fullest practical effort” to dismantling government.

Day is a vocal opponent of efforts to reform campaign finance. He referred to the SB 120 legislation championed by Open Democracy, for example, as “The Incumbent Protection, Racketeering, and Nullification of the 1st Amendment Bill.”

One of the goals identified by Stark 360 in its prospectus is to win “a pro-liberty majority” for Republicans in the state legislature and return Bill O’Brien to his former role as Speaker of the House.

O’Brien leaves no doubt where he stands on campaign finance reform. "Every time you hear a Democrat say that we need a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision,” he writes, “understand what they really want: the government to have the authority to regulate, tax, and deny independent political speech.”

Sep 04

Marilinda Garcia eyes general election, evades Obama impeachment question



Last night, 2nd district congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia was given a chance to repeat her charge that the president has committed “many, many impeachable offenses.” She passed.

Before a small, partisan audience in New Boston earlier this year, Garcia was asked if she would vote to impeach Pres. Obama. Her answer was unequivocal. “I would,” she said. “He has many, many impeachable offenses, it seems to me, in terms of his disregard for our Constitution alone, so I would…”

Video: New Boston Republican Committee

She was asked the same question by WMUR’s Josh McElveen last night before a statewide television audience. This time, with her eye on the general election, Garcia evaded the question with a carefully worded response.

"Should Pres. Obama face impeachment hearings?" McElveen asked.

"After all of the proper review," Garcia answered, "should this come up, I certainly think every member of Congress, if it’s determined that in fact he has overstepped the bounds of his constitutional obligations and authority, then of course, all members of Congress ought to be supporting impeachment."