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Granite Status: Investigation of senator's spouse's loans failed to tell full story

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 13. 2017 11:56PM


The Center for Public Integrity highlighted the husband of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, in a long story about loans given to lawmakers and their spouses by donors or those with interests before Congress.

In Bill Shaheen’s case, the article said there were “no less than four” promissory notes from Marcia Kimball of Moultonborough, a Democratic Party activist who owns Giggles, a children’s clothing store in Sanibel, Fla.

Kimball has been supportive of Jeanne Shaheen since her first Senate run in 2002 and issued the first of the notes to her husband a decade later, the article said. Together, all the loans were initially worth as much as $550,000, CPI reported.

Here’s the rest of that story.

The Granite Status reviewed all financial disclosures from Shaheen since she’s been a senator; she also filed them as a failed candidate in the 2002 campaign.

For starters there are four personal loans from Kimball to Bill Shaheen, but all of them don’t add up to $550,000. They total no more than $250,000.

All assets and liabilities are in ranges. Starting in 2013, Kimball extended four notes to Bill Shaheen, three were in the range of $15,000 to $50,000 and the fourth in 2014 was $50,000 to $100,000.

Second, Bill Shaheen not only was loaned money from his friend but he regularly lent money to his own friends/business associates.

There are three loans to them from Shaheen in the senator’s 2015 disclosure, including outstanding loans to Ansel Grandmaison ($15,000 to $50,000), a Nashua scrap metal dealer, and Kevin Slattery ($15,000 to $50,000), a Southern New Hampshire developer.

In the most recent disclosure, Shaheen has all kinds of mortgages, 11 of them in 2015 and all but two are held only by him and not by the senator. They share a home mortgage and Sen. Shaheen has one of her own ($250,000 to $500,000) with Sun Trust Bank.

Bill Shaheen owns real estate in Concord, Manchester, Somersworth, Conway, Barrington, Farmington, Madbury, York, Maine, and at least five properties in Dover where he started a successful law practice.

In these personal loans to Kimball, Shaheen pays at least 5 percent interest on them, 6.7 percent interest in the largest loan from her.

He routinely gets commercial loans with slightly lower interest rates in traditional financing from banks ranging from 3.87 percent to 4.5 percent.

Over the past 15 years, Kimball has been a prolific donor to Democratic causes and candidates. Yes, Sen. Shaheen got $4,500 in checks from her.

But since 2001, Kimball has sent out $73,000, the most ($24,250) to the New Hampshire Democratic Party followed by Hillary Clinton ($8,500) and then Shaheen, but also to U.S. senators or Democratic candidates from Maryland, Kansas, Florida, Ohio, Maine and Massachusetts.

In an extensive interview with the Sanibel Island (Fla.) Island Reporter back in 2009, Kimball said she grew up in Winchester but spent summers in New Hampshire, which is why she has a home in Center Harbor as well as Florida.

Kimball said she most recently spent two years on the road for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and explains her long relationship with Bill and Jeanne Shaheen.

“Jeanne Shaheen, our new senator from New Hampshire, has been my good friend as is her husband Bill Shaheen,” Kimball said.

“Bill made sure that no matter where we (our team) was, that when he called we flew out and got to work. I got one of these calls in November and flew to freezing New Hampshire to campaign for Jeannie the week of the primary. Bill had me in the boonies of New Hampshire meeting people and talking about Jeannie.”

In their only comment on the matter, Shaheen’s office said all the loans were properly disclosed, legal and played no role in the senator’s business.

“In compliance with Senate ethics rules, Mr. Shaheen has been fully transparent and publicly disclosed all his business transactions. And, as noted by the Center on Public Integrity, Mrs. Kimball does not have any business before Congress,” said Sarah Weinstein, Shaheen’s press secretary.

There’s nothing illegal about these loans.

Reform advocates don’t have to like them, however.

“The reason we have contribution limits on the books, the reason that an individual is limited in how much they can give to a candidate or an official is to limit corruption, and to limit the opportunities for influence and to make sure that no official is overly indebted to any particular person,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan election reform group based in Washington, D.C.

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Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state and vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s Voter Integrity Commission, refused to back down on the possibility that voter fraud “stole” the 2016 election for Democrats.

But Kobach at least agreed the controversy will do nothing to dampen New Hampshire’s prominent place on the presidential nominating calendar.

“I think it would take a lot more than that to disrupt New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status,” Kobach said during a break in the commission’s meeting Tuesday at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

“I think it would be very, very unlikely that a close election of this nature would disrupt New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status.”

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For the first time, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen supported single-payer legislation, signing on Wednesday as a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act of 2017.

“I support the Medicare for All Act because I believe that health care should be a fundamental right in this country,” Shaheen said.

“Too many Granite Staters continue to struggle to access quality affordable health care. I know that in a Republican-controlled Congress this legislation will not pass in the near term, but I believe this bill puts pressure on Congress to think big when it comes to providing the health care that all Americans need and deserve.”

Shaheen recently praised bipartisan leaders in the Senate for seeking to stabilize rate shock occurring in state health care marketplaces, including New Hampshire’s.

To make premiums more affordable, Shaheen offered the Marketplace Certainty Act to make permanent payments for cost-sharing reductions and to expand eligibility.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, offered her own amendment to prevent grants going to navigators under the Affordable Care Act from going out of existence in a pending House spending bill.

Groups from New Hampshire have shared $600,000 in grant payments for navigators.

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The Republican National Committee has gotten around to the important building block of staffing up key state offices in advance of the 2018 mid-term elections. This week, National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced the hiring of Ashley Walukevich as New Hampshire GOP state director.

She most recently worked as a regional field director during 2016 in this state. Prior to that she worked for several years in the Maine and D.C. offices of Senator Susan Collins, R-ME.

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A memorial mass for former Manchester Ward 2 Alderman and state Rep. Kathy Schneiderat is next Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Manchester. Schneiderat passed away on June 26th after battling illness for several months. She and two others made history as the first women ever elected alderman in 1985. She also served in the N.H. House and was a senior staffer for 18 years for Rep. Bill Zeliff (R), and Sen. John E. Sununu.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price comes to the Goodwin Community Health Center in Somersworth Thursday to announce grants for community health centers to fight the opioid crisis. Health Resources and Services Administrator George Sigounas will join Price for the 1:35 p.m. press conference.

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Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will be the keynote speaker for the upcoming RED Summit of Republican State Committee at St. Anselm College’s Institute of Politics.

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First Lady Valerie Sununu is putting her skills as an elementary school teacher to work helping raise money to preserve and maintain The Bridges House. Mrs. Sununu will lead other former first spouses, including Susan Lynch, Nancy Sununu and Tom Hassan with activities and tours at the first annual membership picnic set for Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at the Concord mansion.

Email news and tips to granitestatus@unionleader.com.


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