Utilities, lobbyists, vendors foot the bill for Sununu galasBy KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 07. 2017 3:24PM
CONCORD — Two major power producers, a state health-care provider and an influential lobbying firm forked over the most money — $25,000 apiece — to support the three inaugural balls for Gov. Chris Sununu, according to the events’ organizers.
The Sununu Inaugural Committee reported last week the 40 politically connected companies, lobbyists and state vendors that provided $335,000 in financial support for the parties celebrating the first GOP governor elected in 12 years. The first inaugural ball was Friday night in Portsmouth, the second Saturday night in Nashua; the third is set for Jan. 21 at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.
The pent-up support for a GOP chief executive is clear given that former Gov. Maggie Hassan had 25 major sponsors raising $215,000 for her second inaugural party in 2015.
“There is a long-standing tradition of leaders from the business community in New Hampshire who participate in inaugural celebrations, regardless of party,” Sununu spokesman Dave Abrams said.
The list of sponsors are at www.sununuinauguralcelebration.com.
Eversource and NextEra Energy Resources were Mount Washington-level sponsors giving $25,000 apiece along with the Concord lobbying firm of Gallagher, Callaghan & Gartrell. The fourth leading sponsor was Centene, one of the two companies holding the most lucrative state contracts in history that provide managed care services for hundreds of thousands of clients on the federal-state Medicaid health insurance program.
Eversource and the Gallagher firm were the only $25,000 donors to Hassan’s last inaugural.
Eversource is developing the controversial, Northern Pass project to bring Canadian hydropower to the New England electricity market via high transmission lines that will cut through much of the state.
Sununu has been a supporter of the project and urged its completion after he was sworn in as the state’s 82nd governor on Thursday.
During his gubernatorial campaign, Sununu came under attack from Republican primary rival and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas for having taken $19,000 in donations from Eversource.
NextEra operates the Seabrook nuclear power plant; Sununu has been pushing to expand power projects of many types to lower the state’s high energy prices.
His father, former Gov. John H. Sununu, championed construction of Seabrook along with construction work in progress payments that showed up on consumer bills to pay for the project.
The founder of Gallagher’s firm, Chris Gallagher, is a retired lawyer and prominent Democrat. The firm also has a political arm, Elevare Communications run by Rich Killion, a longtime Republican operative who helped the GOP retain control of the State Senate last fall
There were 11 companies that were Mt. Moosilauke-level sponsors, giving $10,000 each, including Walmart, Liberty Mutual Insurance, AT&T, Unitil, Waste Management, Bank of America, the Provident Bank and the Beer Distributors of New Hampshire.
Lottery vendor Intralot, the lawyer/lobbying firm Pierce Atwood LLC and Reynolds American, the nation’s second largest tobacco company, complete the list of $10,000 donors.
Another 25 interests kicked in $5,000 each and this group included the drug making collective PhRMA, Federal Express, Anheuser-Busch, the lobbyist firms Dupont Group and Rath, Young and Pignatelli PC, gun makers Sig Sauer Inc., Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Fidelity Investments, Fairpoint, Anthem and the Elliot Health System.
Former governor and current U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was the first governor to voluntarily disclose donors to her inaugural events and all governors since have followed suit.
The Legislature passed a state law last year that now requires Sununu and all future governors to disclose all donors initially in March and any leftover cash in a final report in June.
Those reports also will detail individuals who paid at least $100 to get a ticket to one of the balls.