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NH Democrats want Guinta fundraising answers

State House Bureau Chief

September 27. 2011 12:40AM

CONCORD - The state Democratic Party has asked federal election officials to look into fundraising efforts by Congressman Frank Guinta, an outgrowth of the dispute over Republican Party leadership this summer.

Democrats on Monday asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate a news report about Guinta's fundraising published last month.

The report in the New Hampshire Union Leader said 1st District Rep. Guinta tried to get the Republican Governors Association to donate $100,000 to the state Republican Party, but was rebuffed over concerns about former GOP chair Jack Kimball's management of party affairs.

After a month of silence on the issue, Guinta on Monday disputed the news report and said the complaint is based on false information.

'I never directly or indirectly solicited the RGA,' Guinta said.

The Union Leader on Monday stood by the report, published Aug. 27.

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley cited the press report in his complaint. It states that federal law limits office holders to raising a $10,000 maximum in campaign funds from a single donor for their campaigns or for any other entity.

Former Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan said the fundraising limit on solicitations is in place to prevent candidates from getting around the limitations imposed by federal campaign laws.

She said the law is designed so that a candidate can't use other organizations 'as a vehicle to circumvent the limitation on donations to them.'

RGA spokesman Michael Schrimpf said the Democratic complaint 'is meritless and not worth the paper it's printed on. At no point did the RGA commit resources, nor were we solicited to do so. We've repeatedly and consistently said that the allegation about our support of the New Hampshire GOP was wrong.' He said RGA would be limited to a maximum $5,000 to the state party.

Guinta and state GOP Chair Wayne MacDonald said the complaint is a political stunt, coming on the day when RGA chair and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was in town for a state party fundraiser.

'This is a ridiculous complaint based on politics, not fact,' MacDonald said.

'One only has to look at its timing to prove that.'

The report that led to the complaint appeared as efforts to oust Kimball reached a crescendo. It said Guinta told other participants in a conference call that the RGA and other groups turned down his fundraising requests because of party leadership issues.

Those on the call included Speaker of the House William O'Brien, state Senate President Peter Bragdon, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, the report said.

Sullivan said it is interesting that none of the people involved in the conference call have risen to dispute the news reports of the discussion.

Sullivan said she understands it could be a while before an FEC investigation yields any information. She is still waiting to hear on her request for action on Guinta's FEC reports during the 2010 campaign. Guinta amended one form, saying he forgot to mention a $250,000 bank account in one of his reports, after opponents questioned the source of a major flow of money to his campaign.