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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: NH to make push to block internet sales tax

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

June 27. 2018 10:49PM


There’s a move afoot for New Hampshire to aggressively respond to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that permits states to require retailers to collect the sales tax on online buying even when the purchase comes from a state that doesn’t impose the levy.

Gov. Chris Sununu and top economic and legal department heads will unveil their strategy this afternoon at 2 p.m.

In recent days, there’s been a more quiet but determined effort to collect signatures on a petition if need be to hold a legislative special session to act on a New Hampshire-specific law that would try and thwart this effort.

The proposed law would be reciprocal in nature, meaning it would let retailers collect and remit sales taxes but only as long as the home state honors all of New Hampshire laws for its citizens.

If carried out, this would be a giant headache for the other pro-internet sales tax states.

For example, pro-gun control states like New York and California would have to permit New Hampshire residents to carry a concealed weapon without a permit since we are one of few states with constitutional carry laws. Then there’s the lack of mandatory seatbelt or motorcycle helmet laws and most recently the mandate to not discriminate against anyone here based on gender identity.

The hope is that such reciprocity would convince these states that proceeds from this internet sales tax would not be significant enough to chase after New Hampshire and they might drop the demand retailers here act as their tax collectors.

Whatever its chances of success, it’s a great issue for a one-term incumbent, Republican governor to be championing in the middle of an election year.

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The Sunday News reported a few months ago the efforts of the Public Private Partnership Commission to do development projects along or just off the state highway infrastructure.

As we first reported, the initial foray of this group will be to solicit plans to privatize or permit more private leasing/management of bus and commuter parking lots both along Interstate 93 and the Spaulding Turnpike on the Seacoast.

There’s bipartisan support for this new commission to start with these bite-sized projects before they tangle with a larger commercial effort.

The latest campaign finance report from Gov. Sununu’s 2018 campaign shows the private companies that could benefit from these projects are more than happy to invest in this incumbent getting another term.

At least seven bus or lot developers and family members have kicked in $47,000 to Sununu’s kitty, five of them the maximum, $7,000 donation an individual could give to Sununu before he formally signed up to run earlier this month.

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Those who know her say that Republican State Chair Jeanie Forrester’s departure as chairman of the Republican State Committee officially coming on Saturday had been building — for a while.

It’s all about money and in this case how difficult it was for Forrester to try and build a financial network for the state GOP that has been in tatters ever since former Gov. John H. Sununu took control of the reins and for a while had restored its luster.

Recently, Forrester let her frustration slip out with a fundraising email that lamented that unlike the state Democrats, “we do not have” groups subsidizing the party apparatus.

That’s for sure.

The latest reports last week paint the ugly picture. State Democrats raised $1.3 million since the year started, the state GOP only $220,000.

Most recently, the cash transfers to the two groups had been even more lopsided, $360,000 for Democrats, $41,000 for GOP.

Sure, Sununu ($6,000) had done his part as had Senate President Chuck Morse ($4,000), former Sen. Gordon Humphey’s wife, Patty ($5,100) and the Committee to Elect House Republicans ($5,000).

But how about these MONTHLY payments to the New Hampshire Democratic State Committee: The Committee to Elect House Democrats ($8,252), Senate Democratic Caucus ($8,015), Rockingham County Democrats ($3,356), New Hampshire Young Democrats ($2,961).

And along with these and many other monthly checks, Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley knows there are those groups that can be counted on to kick in even bigger numbers on occasion like the $50,000 from Jason Kander’s Let America Vote Committee and the six-figures that arrive every single election year from the Democratic Governors Association and other party PACs.

State Republicans did have a new target for raising cash with daily digital pleas seeking contributions through criticism of Sen. Maggie Hassan’s decision not to fire the intern who swore at President Trump in the Capitol last week.

“We need your help to share our video and message,” the GOP email said.

“Chip in $25 today so we can reach as many folks on Facebook as possible!

“It’s all about expanding our reach online and mobilizing our volunteers, while activating new Republican volunteers who want to get involved in our party.

“The more voters we can target, the more our message will resonate. Donate today!”

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We also learned where the money went to promote Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire beyond the $120,000 in lobbying that was disclosed in April.

The group’s PAC raised another $430,000 and spent $367,000 before the House of Representatives soundly rejected the proposition.

Some of the extra money went to the national Republican-leaning organizations that the Union Leader disclosed have gotten very well-financed by this initiative in other states like Media Placement Services of Las Vegas ($45,000) , Red Rock Strategies of Vegas ($14,000) and Tiberius Strategem of Orange County, CA ($6,000).

Closer to home state director Amanda Grady Sexton was paid $48,000 and nearly another $100,000 went to lobbyists and consultants here including Elevare Communications ($42,500), the Dennehy-Bouley lobbying firm ($45,000), former GOP State Chairman Jennifer Horn of Nashua ($10,500) and Lakes Region GOP media adviser Henry Goodwin ($12,817).

The notation of just under $50,000 paid to St. Paul, Minn., calling consultant FLS Connect LLC also got some attention.

Goodwin stressed this group’s work had nothing to do with the late dirty trick phone calls made to legislators from those posing as representing pro-Marsy’s Law lawmakers who knew nothing of the effort.

“I can confirm that the FLC calls were totally unconnected to the controversial calls made to lawmakers by an unknown organization which claimed to be calling from Marsy’s Law,” Goodwin said in a statement.

Grady Sexton had brought a complaint to Attorney General Gordon MacDonald’s office that later confirmed it was investigating these calls.

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It was no surprise but welcome news for 1st Congressional District candidate Andy Sanborn to get the endorsement of Kentucky senator and 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul.

Paul’s Super PAC, RandPAC, had given to Sanborn’s 2018 bid last fall and Sanborn had co-chaired Rand Paul’s presidential bid in New Hampshire.

“I have known Andy for years as a proven defender of liberty who has always pushed for smaller government and lower taxes,” Paul wrote.

“No one fights harder for the people of New Hampshire than Andy. He has my full support and endorsement in this race.”

Last week, it was the federal Gun Owners of New Hampshire that lent their backing to Sanborn.

Not all of Rand Paul’s followers are following the memo as 1st District GOP rival Eddie Edwards has some of them on board like fellow state Co-Chair Victoria Sullivan and of course, Manchester campaign consultant Michael Biundo.

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Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard has picked sides in the crowded 2nd District GOP primary and he’s going with State Rep. Steve Negron, R-Nashua.

“Washington is broken. Regrettably, they fail to address the real problems affecting our friends and families. We need someone focused on our out-of-control federal debt and deficits, true immigration reform, and the continued attacks on our Bill of Rights. Fortunately, we have someone championing these issues right now,” Hilliard said.

“Steve Negron is a congressional candidate who has declared his strongest support for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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The New Hampshire Democratic Coordinated Campaign is holding its first day of action for the 2018 cycle this weekend with 115 volunteers across the state knocking on doors handing out issue-based literature.

The Saturday canvassing is in Bradford, Cornish/Claremont, Dover, Dunbarton, Exeter, Hopkinton, Keene, Manchester, Nashua, North Hampton, Peterborough, and Plymouth.

These events are being planned to not conflict with rallies over keeping families together at the border that are also happening across the state this weekend.

“In the past two years, New Hampshire Democrats have won 9 special elections and swept the municipal elections and Town Meeting Day because we’ve focused on building an unprecedented grass roots network and have shown voters just how much New Hampshire stands to gain once Governor Sununu and the Republican Party are out of power and can no longer enact their corporate-sponsored policies,” Democratic Chairman Buckley said.

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Executive Council candidate Gray Chynoweth of Manchester did suffer the embarrassment of having a few of his key finance folks not change party affiliation so they are unable to vote for him in the September primary.

He’s also by far raised the most money for the open 4th District seat.

Chynoweth has kicked in $25,000 of his own money but still raised another $105,000 from other sources and has about $110,000 in the bank.

His longtime, philanthropic associates Jeremy and Elizabeth Hitchcock were each $7,000 max donors.

His Democratic opponent, former Manchester Alderman Garth Corriveau did not form a political action committee so he doesn’t have to reveal his finances until August.

Republican candidate and former Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas raised about $72,000 for his campaign with the same, $25,000 donation coming from the candidate.

The big early backers for Gatsas are familiar, AutoFair CEO Andy Crews and his company ($5,000), real estate exec Mark Stebbins ($2,500) and advertising flier Spectrum Monthly and its chief executive ($7,000).

The other GOP candidate, ex-Hooksett Rep. Jane Cormier also doesn’t have to report until August.

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It’s still early but there are troubling campaign finances for early bird Democratic candidate for governor Steve Marchand of Portsmouth.

The good news is he got in first and built a good organization. The bad news is he’s had hired staff on board for months and that’s why after raising nearly $230,000 in this second run for the corner office, he only had about $20,000 left in the bank as of last week.

By contrast, Democratic rival Molly Kelly got into this race late but she outdistanced Marchand with $416,991 raised and she had about $260,000 in cash at the close of the last report.

All of this matters when you have an incumbent governor who has had much more success in office raising money than he did running for the job.

He’s already raised $1.1 million and has about $400,000 in the bank, so much that he could afford last month repaying himself a $20,000 loan he staked to the effort.

Both Democrats have some notable donors, Kelly got on board Walpole filmaker Ken Burns ($7,000) and Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Grundy ($7,000) while Marchand landed former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley ($5,000) and former state senator/philanthropist Harold Janeway ($1,000).

Sununu’s also include the political committee of Vice President Mike Pence ($5,000), 2018 candidate and ex-Ohio Gov. John Kasich ($7,000) and the PAC of former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH ($5,000).

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The Business and Industry Association has embraced a bipartisan letter seeking congressional approval of tariffs President Trump has ordered.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, D-NH are sponsors along with Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN, of the proposal.

“Manufacturing drives New Hampshire’s economy. Many of our state’s manufacturers, as well as technology companies, export products and services to other countries,” said BIA President Jim Roche. “If implemented, we believe these new tariffs will significantly harm New Hampshire’s manufacturing, construction, and technology sectors, and will provoke widespread retaliation from other countries.”

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It’s a long-shot candidacy to be sure but 1st Congressional District Democratic candidate Lincoln Soldati of Somersworth has come up with a unique stumping stunt.

Starting this weekend he embarks on a three-week brewery tour inviting voters to join him to drink some local suds and talk about issues of the day at 10 breweries across the region.

This “Drinkin’ with Lincoln!” series starts Sunday at the Lone Wolfe Brewery in Wolfeboro.

Then he’s off to stops in Conway, North Hampton, Rollinsford, Manchester, Somersworth, Dover, Exeter, and Portsmouth

Yes there’s a fundraising wrinkle to this project, $25 is the suggested donation for anyone who attends.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


Granite Status



Deerfield Fair
Friday, 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.,
Saturday, 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.,
Sunday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Capital Arts Fest
Friday, 5 p.m.,
Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.

Gilbert Gottfried
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Suitcase Stories
Sunday, 7 p.m.