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June 25. 2012 11:32PM

Groups seek secret Obama security donor’s identity

DURHAM — Several right-to-know requests have been filed with the town seeking information about the anonymous donor who offered to pay up to $20,000 for the town’s public safety costs related to President Barack Obama’s visit to Oyster River High School Monday.

“We are deeply troubled over the anonymity of this donation and hope Town Administrator (Todd) Selig will respond to our request in a timely manner,” Corey R. Lewandowski, state director of Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire said in a statement issued Monday. “The people of Durham have a right to know who is funding their government.”

The anonymous donation was announced Sunday by Town Council Chairman Jay Gooze in a news conference at the Durham Town Offices.

Various news outlets have also since filed right-to-know requests seeking information about the donor.

Selig said a policy of honesty is central to how the town does business, but no documents exist at this time to share.

“Because the offer from the anonymous Durham resident was made verbally, there exist no documents which pertain to it at this time. When the town is in receipt of the funds, we will most certainly entertain further requests for information and will provide that information in accordance with the New Hampshire right-to-know law,” Selig said in an email Monday.

Selig said he first raised the issue of the nearly $20,000 in public safety costs Thursday because the event was a campaign stop, not an official Presidential visit.

Selig said regardless of party affiliation, the town has a policy that all candidates should pay for public safety-related costs.

The Obama for America campaign told the town that paying for or dealing with security costs was not in its purview as a private organization.

The town council had planned to meet Monday before the President’s visit to discuss the issue, but the meeting was cancelled after the anonymous donor came forward.

Selig and Gooze said the donor wanted it known that he or she agreed the town should not have to bear the brunt of the costs. On Sunday, Selig said the donor was a longtime Durham resident who had moved out of town some time ago, then moved back, and had the means to offer such a donation.

Selig said the town also received a $150 check Monday from Durham residents Martha and David Burton with the subject line “Obama visit expenses.” Selig said the check was presented to the town clerk’s office and was made out to the town of Durham.

Lewandowski at Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire said the people of Durham have a right to know the identity of the anonymous donor, and what his or her intentions are in giving such a significant amount of money.

“The donor may have business pending before the town or may be trying to skirt FEC law, which precludes this sort of donation,” Lewandowski said of Federal Election Commission rules.

According to AFP’s website, the nationwide organization is made up of “citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity” and believes in reducing the size and “intrusiveness” of government.

The organization says it does not support or oppose candidates for public office, but has been in the national news for funding millions of dollars in attack ads against Obama’s policies.

gmacalaster@newstote.com

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