Amid new finance complaints, Guinta cancels Union Leader interviewBy Union Leader staff
August 29. 2016 9:24AM
Amid new calls from Republicans for an investigation into his finances, Rep. Frank Guinta, R-Manchester, canceled a long-planned interview with editors and reporters from the New Hampshire Union Leader.
An aide for Guinta emailed the newspaper late Sunday night to “respectfully decline the invitation” for an interview Monday morning. In the weeks since Guinta’s campaign confirmed they would take part in the interview, the New Hampshire Union Leader has reported several stories raising new questions about his campaign finances.
On Aug. 17, political reporter Dan Tuohy broke a story detailing how hundreds of thousands of dollars appeared as a personal asset on Guinta’s campaign finance report. On his most recent personal financial disclosure form, Guinta listed a new account at Bank of America valued at between $250,000 and $500,000. The report seemed to be at odds with a Federal Election Commission ruling that found Guinta illegally took $355,000 which was not in his control.
The following week, former NHGOP chairman Fergus Cullen asked the FEC to take immediate action to prevent the two-term incumbent from using the new six-figure account ahead of his primary with challenger Rich Ashooh, R-Bedford.
To this day, Guinta maintains that money was in his control, despite the FEC ruling.
Guinta is one of only two candidates in a contested federal or statewide election on either side of the aisle who will not take part in the Union Leader’s “Voters First” series of interviews. The other is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern.
“The Congressman has always welcomed a healthy debate of ideas,” wrote Guinta’s aide, Jay Ruais. “Disagreement is a natural and healthy part of a democracy; it is why he has always held town halls and public forums. At this time though, it is clear that the Congressman cannot receive a fair look at his record serving Granite Staters from this newspaper.”
Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid rebuked those claims.
“Guinta’s last-minute backing out of this interview is his decision, of course; but his stated objections are laughable,” McQuaid said. “As with the many other candidate interviews we have done as part of the Voters First series, his would be completely on-the-record and recorded. He would be asked a wide range of questions and he would be free to answer them or not as he pleased. Using our editorial opinion as an excuse for dodging those questions is absurd.”
Ruais said Guinta “welcomes the scrutiny that comes with being a public servant,” pointing to three candidate forums held in Rockingham County, another forum in Bedford and a radio debate. Ruais also promised Guinta would participate in more debates, though was not specific about which ones.