Miscellany Blue - New Hampshire Politics

National Organization for Marriage fails to deliver

In January, 2012, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) pledged to spend $250,000 in support of the effort to repeal same-sex marriage in New Hampshire.

"We intend to hold every legislator accountable for his or her vote on marriage," said NOM president Brian Brown. "Those who support HB 437 will be rewarded, while those who don’t will suffer the consequences.”

It appears to have been an idle threat.

IRS forms filed by NOM and its affiliated “Education Fund" identify just $14,000 in contributions to Granite State politicians last year: $7,000 to the House Republican Victory PAC (then chaired by former Speaker Bill O’Brien), $5,000 to the Bill O’Brien for Speaker committee, $1,000 to the Committee to Reelect Bill O’Brien State Rep and $1,000 to the Friends of Stephen Stepanek committee.

Perhaps the group, which has been labeled “anti-gay” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for propagating “demonizing propaganda” based on “known falsehoods” and “repeated, groundless name-calling,” lost interest after the legislation to repeal marriage equality went down to defeat in March.


O’Brien campaign fails ‘critical first test’

Former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien said the first quarter of fundraising was a “critical first test" for his congressional campaign. By most measures, he failed that test.

O’Brien’s $42,000 total pales in comparison to the $350,000 raised by Congresswoman Ann Kuster. As WMUR’s James Pindell noted, the disappointing take keeps the door open for a Republican primary challenger.

Many of the 22 individuals who donated at least $250 served with O’Brien in the House: Reps. Carol McGuire ($2600), Dan McGuire ($2600), Laurence Rappaport ($500), William Infantine ($250), Pamela Tucker ($250), and former Reps. Stephen Stepanek ($5200) and David Bates ($500).

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity was represented with personal contributions from former New Hampshire executive director Cory Lewandowski ($1000) and current boss Greg Moore ($5200).

Just two political action committees contributed to O’Brien’s campaign, the National Right to Work Committee ($3000) and the Newt Gingrich’s American Legacy PAC ($2500). Contributions from corporations that directly benefited from O’Brien’s reign, including tobacco companies and Cancer Treatment Centers of America, were conspicuously absent.

O’Brien was more successful in raising money from his own family. His wife, Roxanne, donated the maximum $5200 and the candidate loaned $60,000 to his campaign.


Kelly Ayotte’s fundraising bravado: ‘They’re messing with the wrong Senator’

Faced with withering and unrelenting criticism for her vote against expanding background checks for gun purchasers, Sen. Kelly Ayotte responds — by fundraising:

I urge you to make a generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more to help me defend the Second Amendment and set the record straight.

Bloomberg and his radical allies are going to great lengths to try to discredit me, and it’s appalling. One quick look at my record and you’ll see I’ve always been tough on criminals, while remaining a staunch defender of the Constitution.

They think that I’m an easy political target, but they’re messing with the wrong Senator. Because they can’t bully me into throwing my values and beliefs out the window.


Guinta pays himself, empties campaign account

As he weighs options for his next run for political office, former Congressman Frank Guinta has emptied his campaign account, writing himself a $25,000 check in the process.

In paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission, Guinta reports having just $148 left in his campaign account at the end of March. The former congressman paid himself $25,000 as partial repayment for personal loans to the campaign. Guinta has now paid back $66,500 of the $355,000 he loaned the campaign, leaving a loan balance of $288,500.

As former New Hampshire Republican Party chair Fergus Cullen noted previously, political candidates typically do not repay personal loans:

While many candidates loan personal funds to their campaigns, repayment is less common. Former Congressman Jeb Bradley and Governor John Lynch are among the New Hampshire candidates whose personal loans to campaigns were never repaid, in part to avoid the potential conflicts of interest that can arise when campaign contributions become personal payments.

Guinta has been dogged by ethics controversy since reporters first questioned the source of the funds he loaned his campaign. The First District Republican eventually amended financial disclosure reports and identified the source as a previously undisclosed bank account. Guinta blamed the omission on an “inadvertent oversight.”


Shea-Porter & Kuster lead pre-primary fundraising

Democratic congressional challengers Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster outraised the incumbent congressmen they hope to unseat by significant margins in the lead up to party primary elections on September 11, 2012.

Democrat Ann Kuster led the field, raising over $220,000 in the last seven weeks, more than doubling the take from her Republican opponent, Congressman Charlie Bass, who raised nearly $87,000.

Over 83% of Kuster’s contributions were from individuals ($184,000) and over 40% of that ($74,000) was in small donations of $200 or less. Over half of Bass’ funds came from political action committees. At the end of the period, Kuster reported over $1.1 million cash on hand compared to Bass’ $850,000.

                                       Kuster-D      Bass-R
Itemized Contributions . . . . . . . $   109,385   $  32,475
Non-Itemized Contributions . . . . . $    74,296   $   4,362 
Political Committees . . . . . . . . $    34,416   $  49,820
 
Total Receipts . . . . . . . . . . . $   220,171   $  86,656
  
Cash On Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 1,118,767   $ 849,629

For the first time this election cycle, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter outraised 1st district Congressman Frank Guinta. Shea-Porter raised over $195,000 compared to Guinta’s $137,500. Over half of the money raised by Guinta came from political action committees. Guinta maintains a healthy lead in cash on hand, reporting $811,000 to $423,000 for Shea-Porter.

                                       CSP-D        Guinta-R
Itemized Contributions . . . . . . . $  74,496     $  61,075
Non-Itemized Contributions . . . . . $  79,271     $   5,895
Political Committees . . . . . . . . $  41,250     $  70,500
Miscellaneous  . . . . . . . . . . . $       3     $      60

Total Receipts . . . . . . . . . . . $ 195,020     $ 137,530

Cash On Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 422,709     $ 810,829


What do health clubs & donuts have in common?

In 2010, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Stephen caused a stir when he raised over $100,000 from 30 limited liability corporations at two addresses in Massachusetts and Connecticut that were traced to Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Kevin Smith has picked up where Stephen left off. Nearly half of Smith’s $324,000 in contributions came from scores of LLCs at the same addresses.

In his latest campaign finance report, Smith lists $99,000 in contributions from 50 LLCs related to Dunkin’ Donut franchises, 47 with the same Westborough, MA address. Smith received another $55,000 in donations from 11 LLCs at two addresses in Newington, NH and Yonkers, NY that serve as headquarters for Planet Fitness health clubs.

A loophole in New Hampshire law allows an owner of multiple limited-liability corporations to make donations up to the legal limit — $7,000 per election cycle — on behalf of each LLC.

Smith spokesman Jamie Burnett told AP he “did not know if the LLCs had one or more owners,” but “we’re happy to get that support.”


Young Guns back Frank Guinta

YG Network, an advocacy group with ties to vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, is launching a digital advertising campaign supporting Congressman Frank Guinta.

The issue ad is in opposition to S. 3412, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts on income up to $250,000. YG Network opposes letting the tax cuts expire on higher incomes and labels the bill “Obama’s tax hike.”

"Liberals don’t understand how to create jobs and fix our economy," intones the narrator. "We need Congressman Frank Guinta to keep fighting for small business — tell him to vote for jobs by rejecting s. 3412 — the Obama / Reid / Pelosi tax hike.”

YG is short for “Young Guns,” the brash group of conservative GOP lawmakers who have worked to identify like-minded candidates, help them raise money, taught them political and fundraising skills and tutored them in conservative ideology. Former aides to the congressmen founded a Young Guns super PAC and two political non-profits, YG Network and YG Policy Center.

According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Guinta has received $20,000 in campaign contributions from Cantor’s leadership PAC, $10,000 from Ryan and $9,000 from McCarthy.


NH-02 campaign ‘ground zero in fight for Medicare’

Friends of Democracy, the SuperPAC currently running an ad campaign targeting Rep. Charlie Bass, calls the 2nd District congressional contest between Bass and Democrat Ann Kuster “ground zero in the fight for Medicare.”

Bass is “part of a growing epidemic of members of Congress raking in millions from the insurance lobby while voting to end Medicare,” points out co-director Ilyse Hogue. Friends of Democracy notes Bass voted for the Ryan budget in 2011 while taking in at least $349,875 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry and $10,000 from Congressman Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC.

The Ryan budget would transform Medicare into a system of vouchers to help seniors buy private insurance coverage, which is seen as a boon to the insurance industry. “Paul Ryan and the insurance industry have placed their bets on Rep. Charlie Bass and he has voted their way,” said co-director David Donnelly.


Super PAC targets Bass for Big Oil taxpayer subsidies

Friends of Democracy, a new super PAC targeting the outsize influence of money in politics, is launching an ad campaign against New Hampshire Congressman Charlie Bass. The ad will run for two weeks in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.

Voiceover: Do you feel frozen out like this when it comes to Congress? No wonder. Corporate lobbyists have your congressman’s full attention. Your congressman, Charlie Bass, over took $166,000 from Big Oil, and voted to give them billions in taxpayer subsidies. If we don’t vote against Charlie Bass, middle class families will never get in the game.


Congressional fundraising summary: 2nd quarter, 2012 

Once again, Democrat Ann Kuster was the big winner in the congressional fundraising sweepstakes among Granite State candidates. The 2nd district congressional candidate raised over $483,000 in the second quarter of 2012 nearly doubling her Republican opponent, Congressman Charlie Bass, who raised $272,000.

Over 80% of Kuster’s contributions were from individuals ($390,779) and nearly a third of that ($121,665) was in small donations of $200 or less. 64% of Bass’ funds came from political action committees. At the end of the quarter, Kuster reported nearly $1.3 million cash on hand compared to Bass’ $913,000.

                                       Kuster-D      Bass-R
Itemized Contributions . . . . . . . $   269,114   $  90,825
Non-Itemized Contributions . . . . . $   121,665   $   6,394 
Political Committees . . . . . . . . $    92,793   $ 174,387
 
Total Receipts . . . . . . . . . . . $   483,572   $ 271,606
  
Cash On Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 1,292,811   $ 912,791

First district Congressman Frank Guinta widened his fundraising lead over Democrat Carol Shea-Porter raising $256,000 for the quarter compared to $201,000 for Shea-Porter. Guinta also slightly increased his wide lead in cash on hand, reporting $846,000 to $312,000 for Shea-Porter.

                                       CSP-D        Guinta-R
Itemized Contributions . . . . . . . $  97,586     $ 149,100
Non-Itemized Contributions . . . . . $  39,883     $  11,180
Political Committees . . . . . . . . $  62,733     $  95,741
Miscellaneous  . . . . . . . . . . . $     652     $       0

Total Receipts . . . . . . . . . . . $ 200,853     $ 256,021

Cash On Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 312,458     $ 846,191


Frank Guinta to lobbyists: Keep on truckin’

Last year, I wrote of my surprise at seeing that Congressman Frank Guinta had sponsored a bill ”to increase the effectiveness of Federal oversight of motor carriers.”

After all, this was the same man who had trumpeted, “Overzealous federal regulation is choking small business owners in New Hampshire and all over America.”

But then I learned that Guinta had worked closely with three powerful trucking lobbies — Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) — in writing up the legislation; and that after introducing the bill, he was rewarded with $1,000 campaign contributions from the three groups.

The next I heard about the bill was when I read Guinta proudly announcing that the bill’s language had been included in the 2-Year Surface Transportation Bill which became law earlier this month.

And, like clockwork, Guinta was once again rewarded with campaign contributions from the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association PAC ($2500, $4500 total), the Transportation Intermediaries Association PAC ($1000, $2000 total) and the Trucking PAC of the American Trucking Associations, Inc. ($1000, $2000 total).


Q1 Fundraising: Bass Falls Further Behind Kuster

2nd District Congressman Charlie Bass fell further behind challenger Ann Kuster in fundraising last quarter. Bass came up $83,000 short, raising $269,000 for the quarter to Kuster’s $352,000. Bass reported having $790,00 cash on hand at the end of the quarter, well shy of Kuster’s $1,032,000.

Nearly two-thirds of Bass’ contributions ($174,000) came from political action committees. Corporate PACs that have now donated the maximum $10,000 for the 2012 election cycle include Alston & Bird, Altria Group, AT&T, California Dairies, Consumer Electronics Associates, Corning, Deloitte, DirecTV Group, Fluor Corporation, International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, United Technologies, Verizon and Wellpoint.

58% of Bass’ itemized contributions from individuals were from New Hampshire residents, including $5,000 from former governor Craig Benson. Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s leadership PAC also kicked in another $5,000 this quarter.

Itemized Contributions (NH) . . . . . . . . . . . $ 52,160
Itemized Contributions (Outside NH) . . . . . . . $ 38,150
Non-Itemized Contributions. . . . . . . . . . . . $ 4,273
Political Committees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 174,151
Candidate Contribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 0
Candidate Loan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 0
TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 268,734

Cash On Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 790,416


Miscellany Blue