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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Who raised what for their campaigns
FOLLOW THE MONEY: Last week, the candidates for state offices had to file receipts and expenditure reports with Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office.
In any given race, you can look at the report in several ways. Who raised the most money? Who spent the most money? And who has the most money remaining for the final push?
In the race for governor there are a few surprises. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan out-raised Republican Ovide Lamontagne by a considerable amount: $470,422 to $301,987, a difference of $168,435 for the five-week period beginning after the primary.
Let’s be honest: Both figures are pretty anemic compared to what some former candidates raised for their general election campaigns, but it is what it is.
Hassan has some interesting donors, including Walpole filmmaker Ken Burns, who donated $1,000 for the general election, the most an individual can give if the candidate does not agree to the state spending cap, which few do these days.
Hassan’s reach goes deeper into the arts and literature community.
Others donating to Hassan include author and journalist Andy Tobias, who has written a number of books on investments. He donated $1,000.
Noted filmmaker and screenwriter David Rintels of Santa Barbara, Calif., also donated $1,000 to Hassan’s campaign, as did author Susanne Zucotti of New York City, who has written several books on the Holocaust.
Hassan also received a $100 donation from singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris of Nashville.
Lamontange does not have the same star power among his contributors, but he does have significant donations from some often reported Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) associated with Dunkin’ Donut franchises in Massachusetts and others related to the Brady Sullivan company in Manchester.
Companies beginning with “Deck” contributed $1,000 each to Lamontange’s campaign, all 52 of them. Forty-nine of the companies have the same Westborough, Mass., address as the The Deck Group, and three have the same Brooklyn New York address.
In the primary, the Deck LLCs contributed to Kevin Smith’s campaign. Now they moved to Lamontange.
Forty-nine LLCs with the same Manchester Commercial Street address as the Brady Sullivan companies also contributed to Lamontagne’s campaign.
The total for the two LLC groups is $101,000, or about one-third of the money Lamontagne raised.
He also received a $1,000 contribution from Mount Sunapee, the ski area the state leases. No other information was provided, just Mount Sunapee.
Hassan outspent Lamontagne $352,785 to $274,219, a difference of $78,566.
Hassan has a larger payroll than Lamontagne, but also spent more than $100,000 on a television ad buy and production, while Lamontagne spent about $30,000 on research done by the Tarrance Group of Alexandria, Va., a national Republican polling and research firm, and $26,000 with Spectrum Marketing of Manchester for mailers. Lamontange has about twice the cash on hand as Hassan, having rolled over $258,061 from his primary to his general election campaign, for a total of $285,830.
Hassan has $134,032 in cash, having rolled over only about $16,000 from her primary campaign.
However, those figures really do not matter much when you see what the Republican Governor’s Association and the Democratic Governor’s Association have ready to dump into the state.
The RGA’s Live Free Political Action Committee (PAC) has approximately $5.8 million raised and has most of it already committed to air time.
The DGA has dumped more than $2 million into the race through the State Democratic Party, according to the party’s report.
All these figures will be even larger in the final receipts and expenditures report before the general election which is due in two weeks.
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BAD NEWS ON RETIREMENT: The Special House Committee on Defined Contribution Retirement Plans for Public Employees received some news it didn't want to hear last week.
The committee asked the Segal Company to review what would happen if the state retirement system were changed so that new employees would be under a defined contribution plan instead of the defined benefit plan that currently exists.
Under a defined contribution plan, the state's, cities', towns', school districts' and counties' payments into the system would be capped while employees would have a plan similar to a 401k that depends on how well the investments do. Under the current system, benefits are determined by salary and length of service.
The report was not substantially different than what the retirement systems actuaries told the committee earlier this year, that it would be more expensive to make the change than to let the current system run its course.
“Total funding costs will rise as the state implements the DC (defined contribution) plan for new hires,” was the first finding in the report.
With new hires moving to a new system, the group writes, there are fewer employees contributing to the old system and less money to reduce the current unfunded liability.
The authors note the rates for communities would spike dramatically in the last few years of the changeover.
Segal advises the committee to increase the transition period, limit who can participate in the defined contribution plan, and modify the proposal to lower employer contributions.
The committee has to make its recommendation by Nov. 1.
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A BIT CONFUSING: Two weeks ago, the Local Government Center announced it would return $22.5 million in surplus for the 2012 fiscal year to its members through a “contribution holiday.”
Of the total, $20.8 million is surplus from its Health Trust Groups and $1.7 million from its Property-Liability Groups.
That money has nothing to do with the $50 million a Bureau of Securities Regulations hearings officer ordered the LGC to return to its policy holders, which are cities and towns, school districts and counties.
That order covered the period between 2003 and 2010. It required the LGC to reorganize its operations or lose its non-profit status and pay state insurance taxes.
The LGC appealed the order to the state Supreme Court last week.
In its appeal, the LGC questions the hearing officer's decision, saying the remedies he imposed are not in statute, cover activity before the organization was regulated by the bureau, and have no basis in law, such as the ordered return of $50 million to cities and towns.
In the appeal, the LGC also asked the court to stay the securities bureau order until the case is decided by the court.
The difference between the current surplus and the $50 million the organization has yet to return to cities and towns is why one of the attorneys for the securities bureau, Andru Volinsky, last week talked about considering receivership for the LGC.
Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire President David Lang, a frequent critic of the LGC, said the surplus results from the LGC overcharging its customers. The LGC increased rates 4 percent while it paid out 1 percent more in claims, he noted, and the results are that the trust's assets grew 24 percent. The overcharge amounts to about $800 or more a year for an employee paying a portion of a two-person health policy, Lang said. “The taxpayers, employees and retirees are paying about 5 percent more than they needed to,” he said.
However, Lang does like the idea of a contribution holiday, because he said everyone involved will benefit, from taxpayers to employees and retirees.
“If a contract year starts in January, they may not have to make any contribution that month,” he noted.
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RACE FOR SPEAKER: The race for House Speaker is already in full swing with four people, including the incumbent William O'Brien, doing all they can to drag their supporters over the general election finish line and into office so they are there for the Dec. 5 Organization Day.
O'Brien is challenged by Rep. Lee Quandt of Exeter in the Republican caucus, while former House Speaker and current Minority Leader Terie Norelli of Portsmouth is challenged in the Democratic caucus by Rep. David Campbell of Nashua. The courting and the real pressure come after the election, when the partisan makeup of the 400 members of the House is set.
In the current House Calendar under Members' Notices is a short blub that reads “All elected House Republican members are invited to a buffet lunch at the Barley House, Main Street, Concord starting at 1 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2012, courtesy of the Committee to Re-elect Bill O'Brien as Speaker.”
It was signed by Reps. Gene G. Chandler, Marilinda J. Garcia, Lynne M. Ober, Stephen B. Stepanek, and Daniel J. Tamburello, the co-chairman of O'Brien's re-election effort.
O'Brien must believe his re-election to the House in the general election is assured or why waste the money.
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NOVEL APPROACH: Democratic District 4 Executive Council candidate Chris Pappas has raised more than $150,000 for his race.
His campaign recently sent an email asking for more money as the report filing deadline approached — and then made an unusual promise for a candidate seeking money.
“Dear Friend —
It seems like every time I open my inbox, I have a dozen emails from politicians asking for money.
Well, there's an easy way to stop getting these emails from me: contribute today! Just click here to make a contribution, and we'll take you off our solicitation list.”
Ah, if it were only that easy to stop the candidate phone calls.
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Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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