Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Following the money
With days to go before the election, Republican Ovide Lamontagne and Democrat Maggie Hassan are in an extremely tight race for governor.
Last week, the campaigns had to file their final financial reports before the election with the Secretary of State's Office, and once again Hassan raised more money than Lamontagne, although his campaign has a healthier war chest for the closing round.
In the two-week period, Hassan raised $260,784, much of that coming in small donations and the vast majority from women. For the general election, Hassan has raised $747,602 so far.
She received the maximum donation of $1,000 from two women associated with the Seabrook dog racing track, Karen Keelan of Mashpee, Mass., and Kathleen Brothers of Stratham, and from filmmaker Ken Burns' wife, Julie, and Stonyfield Farms Yogurt founder Gary Hirshberg's wife, Margaret.
Hassan also received $1,000 contributions from police and firefighter unions and from local companies, such as Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Her campaign also received the maximum contributions from former New Hampshire International Speedway owner Bob Bahre and his wife, Sandra, of Alton and from Robert Lenzner of New York City, who writes the StreetTalk column for Forbes.
Lamontagne raised $183,483 during the two-week period, for a total of $743,531 for the general election so far.
And again the campaign raised more than $10,000 in contributions from limited liability companies (LLCs), including seven $1,000 contributions from LLCs associated with Christian Book Distributors with the same address in Peabody, Mass.
Lamontagne also received $1,000 donations from local political action committees, including the Associated General Contractors and Live Free or Die, and two companies associated with former Gov. Craig Benson, Soft Draw and Collingsworth Co.
Lamontagne received $1,000 contributions from his former adversary in the U.S. Senate Republican Primary in 2010, Bill Binnie, and his wife, Nina, and from lobbyist Ed Dupont and Concord Express co-owner Jim Jalbert.
During the two-week period, Hassan spent $329,159, for a total of $681,944 for the general election, and has $65,658 in cash.
Most of the money was spent on television and other advertising, and her report does not include any salaries for campaign staffers.
Lamontagne's campaign spent $289,937 for the two-week period, for a total of $564,156 for the general election, and has cash of $179,375.
Like Hassan, much of the money was spent on television and other forms of advertising, but his expense report does include salaries paid to campaign staffers.
The campaigns have to file a final accounting on Nov. 14.
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MORE MONEY: The House Republican Victory PAC raised more than $178,000 for the general election, which anyone would agree is a substantial amount, and had a large carryover from the primary election, as well.
But unlike in years past, when the House PAC gave the money to local Republican committees and organizations and some to candidates in key races, this time almost all of the money was spent on mail pieces done to support about 180 Republican candidates in 75 races.
The PAC will have spent about $190,000 on direct mail in the targeted races, according to the independent expenditure reports filed with the Secretary of State's Office.
All the money going into the direct mail campaign is obviously a more top down approach to funding the candidates than in the past and a more coordinated approach.
Jobs and the economy and sound fiscal management of state government has been the message in the mail pieces.
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MORTGAGE FRAUD UNIT: Attorney General Michael Delaney is asking the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee to approve his proposal for a program to assist homeowners who have lost their homes or are about to lose their homes because of mortgage fraud or illegal activities on the part of mortgage bankers.
Some of the $10 million the state received from the National Mortgage Settlement with the five big national banks would go to establishing a mortgage fraud unit with four new full-time positions and one part-time position.
The plan has already been approved by the Executive Council, but is likely to hit a roadblock with the fiscal committee Thursday.
The committee has taken a strong stand opposing any requests for new positions.
Committee Chairman Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, said Delaney has done nothing he was asked to do, which was to find efficiencies rather than new employees.
"On the other side of the world, in the private sector, they use technology to be more efficient, but we can't seem to do that in government, which is slow to adapt," Weyler said. "They keep coming to us asking for new people when in a few months we'll be working on the new budget."
Weyler said it is not just the attorney general who is asking for new employees, noting three or four other department heads have also made request.
"We're taking a consistent approach as a committee," Weyler said.
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MORE JUDGES: The fiscal committee will also be asked Thursday to approve the conversion of a marital master position in the Family Court Division of the Circuit Court to a district court judge.
The court system made a similar request for three new judges in June, but the request was tabled because Weyler said the committee members did not want "a lame-duck governor making midnight appointments."
The district court division is well below its full complement of judges and will be further behind when several more adjudicators retire before the end of the year.
Weyler noted a court representative met with him last week to explain that if the committee does not approve the new positions, it could be well into the new year before the next governor could nominate people to fill the positions.
Weyler said he will discuss a plan with the committee members to amend the request so that it would not be effective until January. That way the new governor would be able to make the nominations but the process would not be slowed down as much, he explained.
He noted the court system really wanted the new judges in October, so he is sensitive to the problem.
You have to wonder though, if Hassan wins the governor's race, would the Republican dominated fiscal committee members prefer to have Lynch or Hassan making the new nominations?
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THE CHECK'S IN THE MAIL: The fiscal committee will finally have the opportunity to approve $4.45 million in new money for the state's charter schools.
The state is short about $5.3 million of what is needed for state tuition aid to charter schools.
Weyler said the problem stems from differences in the estimated number of charter school students. He said the House Finance Committee used the charter school association's projections, while the Senate used the Department of Education's when it crafted the budget more than a year ago.
Weyler noted it is unusual to empower the fiscal committee to approve additional appropriations. "We're usually not able to say, 'Here's a million, and you can have a million,'" Weyler said. "This would not have been necessary if the DOE had gone with the numbers from the charter school association. The department was incorrect, and it shows how they are trying to subvert charter schools."
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Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.