May 12. 2012 11:07PM

Shea-Porter wants no Super PAC ads in NH-01 race

Senior Political Reporter

MANCHESTER — Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta's campaign is calling Democratic challenger Carol Shea-Porter hypocritical for her call Friday for both to publicly demand that Super PACS do not advertise during the campaign in their district.

Shea-Porter told the New Hampshire Sunday News her call goes for CREDO, a liberal San Francisco-based Super PAC friendly to her that has vowed to target Guinta and nine other conservative congressmen, as well as conservative groups, but does not cover grassroots organizing and “ground” activities.

Her call is symbolic, since Super PACS are independent of candidates and free to advertise as they wish.

They played a huge role in the GOP presidential nomination race and will have an equally influential role in the general elections for President and Congress.

But she hopes that if she and Guinta join in making such a call, they may have some effect in the state's 1st Congressional District.

“Just stay off the airwaves,” Shea-Porter said. “I don't care what they do on the ground,” but, she said, advertising should be off limits, as should automated telephone calls.

Guinta campaign manager Ethan Zorfas responded, “Carol Shea-Porter's hypocrisy is amazing. It knows no bounds.

“Carol Shea-Porter already has a Super PAC (CREDO) up engaging negative ground activities, phone calls and election persuasion,” he said.

“Any pledge Carol Shea-Porter makes, voters need to read the fine print because there is always a loophole as big as the Merrimack River is wide,” Zorfas said.

How it works

Super PACs are political action committees that can raise unlimited donations and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against a candidate. Their expenditures must be independent and not coordinated with a candidate.

Shea-Porter lost the 1st District U.S. House seat she had held for two terms to Guinta in 2010 and is trying to regain it.

She said in a statement that Super PACS “will try to influence NH-01 voters. These groups on either side have ground workers. The Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity has had a permanent staff in New Hampshire for several years now, and CREDO has recently arrived.

“However, Super PACs should not run television or radio or any type of media ads,” she said.

She called on Guinta to “sign an agreement with me next week” to:

-- “Send out a joint press release that Super PAC money is not welcome in NH-01

-- “Jointly publicly denounce any Super PACs that use the airwaves or any form of media ads to attack or support either of us and

-- “Jointly sign a public statement to the offending Super PAC that it stop running the ads immediately.”

Shea-Porter said that she and Guinta “should work together to try to reduce the constant barrage of ads that offend NH-01 voters and try to reduce outside influence by Super PACs.”

Shea-Porter in January wrote an column urging voters to “speak up” and “ask candidates if they will support legislation to take this kind of money out of politics.”

Accused of hypocrisy

Republicans accused her of hypocrisy when, several days later, CREDO was unveiled and said it would be targeting Guinta in a program it called “Take Down the Tea Party Ten.”

CREDO campaign manager Matthew Arnold, in announcing the group's plans, said of Guinta and the others, “We're talking about some of the most odious members of Congress. Even for Republicans these guys are low.

“We're going to empower local activists to organize their friends and neighbors to lay out the truth about their representatives in the most basic terms,” Arnold added. “They are anti-woman. They are anti-science. They are hypocritical, bigoted, and have said and done things that are downright crazy.”

Zorfas, of the Guinta campaign, said of the CREDO criticisms, “It's a San Francisco-based organization and their political rhetoric is laughable.”

$2 million raised

According to the Center for Responsive Politics', CREDO as of May 11 had raised about $2 million and spent $480,000 nationally. The conservative American Crossroads, by comparison, had raised $28 million and spent about $1 million so far, according to the CRP website.

Shea-Porter said in an interview, “I don't care what (Super PACs on either side) do on the ground. Americans for Prosperity has been here a lot longer and has lots of boots on the ground.”

Americans for Prosperity is actually not a Super PAC. It is a 501 (c) (4) nonprofit that is engaged in “issues advocacy” and unlike Super PACS, is not required to disclose its donors, as Super PACs do.

“On the ground, you're talking to one, two or five people and you have to work it,” Shea-Porter said. “I'm not trying to prevent that.

“But when you go to the airwaves, and you have a hidden agenda because people don't even know who it is or what it is and you reach out and you can talk to 100,000 people with a false message, an absolute falsehood, or you can swing it by virtue of people in other states who decide that a candidate is worth an investment.

“I would like to see it stay as much as possible a NH-01 election between two candidates who have different views,” said Shea-Porter, “but we're the ones who actually get to be heard about it.

“I'm asking all of them to stay off the air,” she said. “No advertising. If you can get your troops together and go out there and work it, OK. You can't stop that.

“But then people see who you are,” she said. “Let them be in New Hampshire and work in New Hampshire. Then that's cool.”