John DiStaso's Granite Status: Rubio, Paul, Portman, Thune to attend NHGOP fund-raiser in DC | New Hampshire
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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Rubio, Paul, Portman, Thune to attend NHGOP fund-raiser in DC

By John DiStaso
Senior Political Reporter

July 17. 2013 10:06AM

TUESDAY, JULY 16. STRONG LINEUP. A Washington, D.C. fund-raiser July 29 for the state Republican Party being organized by Sen. Kelly Ayotte has attracted several other prominent senators.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., possible 2016 presidential hopefuls, and Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is also mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, are the special guests, along with Ayotte.

Suggested contributions range from $500 to $2,500.

Paul was in the state to speak to the NHGOP in May and is not hiding his strong consideration of a presidential run.

Party officials expect additional senators to add their names to the guest list, as well.

TUESDAY, JULY 16: CSP, O'BRIEN FUND-RAISING. First District U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., raised $102,143 for her expected reelection campaign during the second quarter of the year, which ended June 30 and reported having $140,043 on hand.

In the 2nd District, Republican former New Hampshire House Speaker William O'Brien raised $42,359 during the second quarter and reported having $88,037 on hand.

Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster reported raising $349,149 in the second quarter and entered July with $556,921 on hand.

(The full July 14 Granite Status follows.)

SUNDAY, JULY 14: ANOTHER POSSIBLE "2016er" HEADING TO NH. It's only 2013, but already, potential 2016 presidential candidates are flocking to first-in-the-nation primary state New Hampshire.

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has been here this year. So has Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Former Florida U.S. Rep. Allen West is coming here next month.

Mitt Romney surely isn't running again, but his first fund-raiser since losing last year's presidential election will be in Wolfeboro on Aug. 6 and is attracting national attention.

Now, the Granite Status has learned, comes another Tea Party favorite and potential GOP presidential candidate.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been a staunch opponent of immigration reform and has been called a "great conservative" by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, is scheduled to be in the Granite State on Aug. 23 for a state Republican Party fund-raiser.

The event will be held at the home of former Ambassador Joseph Petrone and his wife, Augusta, in Dublin, with a two-tier ticket structure expected to be priced at $100 and $500.

The 42-year-old Cruz, a freshman senator, has already been to "first-in-the-South" primary state South Carolina. He's visiting first-caucus state Iowa later this week.

This is believed to be his first visit to New Hampshire.

State Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn called Cruz "one of the most principled and exciting new leaders in the Republican Party. During his short time in Washington, he has already established himself as a leader in the fight to rein in President Obama's liberal agenda and return fiscal responsibility to our government

"We are excited to welcome Senator Cruz to New Hampshire and hear about his vision for the future of our country," Horn said.

IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS FOR AYOTTE. Sen. Kelly Ayotte in the past several weeks tried to parlay more than $2 million in negative television ads directed at her by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" group into big money for her eventual reelection campaign.

A few weeks ago, she emailed supporters that a big second quarter would make a strong statement in response to the Bloomberg blitz.

"Bloomberg and the left will use our June 30 report to determine whether or not to invest even more money into smearing my record," she wrote on June 21, in one of several fund-raising emails.

"They'll interpret anything less than stellar numbers as proof their assault campaign is working and they'll quickly go live with more ads."

Well, the Ayotte numbers are in, and we have them, exclusively. And they're pretty impressive for someone who isn't up for reelection until 2016.

Whether it's enough to discourage billionaire Bloomberg, though, remains to be seen.

According to Ayotte's office, the Friends of Kelly Ayotte committee will report having raised $462,539 in the second quarter (April 1 to June 30). It will report that her committee entered July with $1.16 million in cash on hand.

Inevitably, these numbers will be compared to those of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who, as we reported last week, raised $1.2 million in the second quarter and has $2.15 million on hand.

But consider that Shaheen is "in cycle," and is up for reelection next year. Ayotte, elected in 2010, still has more than three years to go before she (presumably) runs again.

Ayotte, of course, has been the focal point nationally of the gun control debate since her April vote against the Manchin-Toomey amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases to those conducted over the internet and at gun shows.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly's Americans for Responsible Solutions have also aired ads trying to get her to change her mind.

Ayotte's fund-raising is ahead of where Shaheen and former Sen. John E. Sununu were the same points in their terms.

Two-and-a-half years after taking office, Ayotte has now raised a total of nearly $1.25 million, including the new second quarter number, and has $1.15 million on hand.

Shaheen, two-and-a-half years after taking office in January 2009, had raised a total of $502,000 by the end of the second quarter of 2011 but had only $42,000 on hand.

Sununu, two-and-a-half years after taking office in January 2003, had raised a total of $698,000 by the end of the second quarter of 2005 and had $267,000 on hand.

REMEMBER GREG? Democrats were outraged last week by conservative group Cornerstone Action's right-to-know request to the state Department of Health and Human Services seeking information about a staffer.

HHS attorney Dawn Touzin was vice president for public policy and government affairs at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England for several years before joining HHS in 2011.

Ashley Pratte, Cornerstone executive director, has said she is seeking information about Touzin's hiring and role at the department out of concern that Touzin's long-time advocacy for causes promoted by Planned Parenthood is influencing her role in the taxpayer-funded #67,192-a-year post.

Democrats said the conservative, pro-life group was attacking a "hard-working citizen" and "public servant" solely because she formerly worked for PPNE, a pro-choice organization.

They called it a "partisan witch hunt," and became even more upset when it was discovered that Republican former House speaker Bill O'Brien helped Pratte with the letter, making edits, additions and deletions.

But Greg Moore, who heads another conservative group, Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire, remembers that back in 2004, his job at DHHS was questioned by the Democrats because of his political leanings.

Moore was hired as the DHHS public affairs and government relations director by his friend, then-commissioner John Stephen, a conservative who had been appointed department head by Republican Gov. Craig Benson.

Cronyism, the Democrats charged.

Benson is "cutting people in positions that care for people," complained Pamela Walsh at the time, when she was a spokesman for the Democratic Party (she is now Gov. Maggie Hassan's chief of staff). "Yet, he's taking care of his Republican friends by letting John Stephen hire his former campaign spokesman as a spokesman for the department."

Moore's job at the time was listed at $53,000- to $71,500-a-year.

VAN OSTERN VS. O'BRIEN. When Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, D-Concord, ran for the seat last year, one of his key themes was opposition to efforts by O'Brien and the then-GOP-controlled council to prohibit the state from contracting with Planned Parenthood.

Van Ostern was later endorsed by PPNNE and now says he's not surprised O'Brien was part of this move to "smear," as Van Ostern put it, Touzin.

"It's the same old crusade against Planned Parenthood and women's health overall that Bill O'Brien has been running for years," said Van Ostern.

"We need well-qualified people in state government, and experience with a large health care provider like Planned Parenthood is a plus.

"We have state employees of every political stripe," said Van Ostern. "I have voted to confirm people from across the political spectrum" to state posts during his six months on the council.

"To launch a smear campaign against a state employee because she used to work at Planned Parenthood is extreme and irresponsible," he said.

Van Ostern didn't mention it, but other Democrats have pointed out that Wayne MacDonald chaired the New Hampshire Republican Party while employed as a fraud investigator for HHS, and no one complained.

Van Ostern is a former campaign manager for Annie Kuster, a point not lost on O'Brien, who could well be running against Kuster next year.

"It's clear that Ann Kuster's former campaign manager will do and say anything to divert attention from her liberal policies and support of (former U.S. House) Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her efforts to increase taxes for the rest of us when she's not paying her own taxes on time," said O'Brien.

"The fact that Colin Van Ostern will bring up issues that have nothing to do with what concern the people of the second district is not surprising because those aren't the type of issues Ann Kuster wants to talk about.

"Anyone of us who watches a vice president of a Medicaid provider, no matter who the provider is, go into state government and deal with Medicaid in state government, the issue has to be raised," he said.

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein responded to O'Brien's criticism of Kuster by saying the former speaker is "desperately flailing after being caught shadow-directing the Cornerstone group and is leveling the same failed attacks that on women's health that voters rejected last fall."

SOUCY TO THE DEFENSE. State Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, also came to the defense of Touzin, who, Soucy said, was her teaching assistant while the senator was in law school.

"The fact that (Touizin) is being dragged through the mud or being questioned in any way is just absolutely outrageous," said Soucy.

"HHS should be able to hire the best and brightest people. She has experience in health care policy and is an exceptional lawyer. She has impeccable integrity.

"She has an ethical responsibility to represent her client, which is HHS," said Soucy. "This is just nonsense and discourages good people from getting involved in state government."

By the way, the PPNE Action Fund stayed out of the 2012 state Senate District 18 race between Soucy and Republican J. Gail Barry, saying that both supported "the full range of health care services provided at Planned Parenthood health centers."

Cornerstone executive director Ashley Pratte responded that her request "is in no way meant to tarnish (Touzin's) reputation.

"As a state employee it is important to make sure her previous position as vice president of policy and government affairs at Planned Parenthood in no way influences or advances their agenda.

"When Ms. Touzin was quoted on the subject of Medicaid it set off some questions and the need for transparency at HHS. As this story has developed HHS still has not responded to my request and instead the Democratic Party has fired shot after shot in defense of a pro-abortion agenda."

WHERE DOES MOLLY LIVE? Shaheen's 28-year-old daughter, Molly Shaheen, told us last week she was a resident of New Hampshire when she voted in Madbury last year and said she now splits her time between California and New Hampshire.

And in filings related to her business, Naked Undies LLC, the younger Shaheen lists an address in California on her California filing and has a New Hampshire address on her New Hampshire filing.

The California Secretary of State's web site has a listing for the business having been filed on June 3, and lists her as the business agent with a Los Angeles home address.

The firm's annual report to the New Hampshire Secretary of State's Office, filed just last Monday, July 9, lists her parents' Madbury address as her home address.

Both filings list the business's address in Madbury.

So what, you say? Maybe nothing. It's just that California's "Foreign LLC Registration Form," required for LLCs based in other states, requires the applicant to "list a California resident" as the "agent to accept of process in case your LLC is sued."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SENATOR. State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, hosts a birthday party every year on July 30 at the Athens Restaurant in Manchester, and this year will be no exception.

But this year is a special year: D'Allesandro will be celebrating his 75th birthday.

And, oh yeah, it's also a fund-raiser for D'Allesandro's campaign (undoubtedly he will run again next year).

Tickets range from whatever one can give as a "Booster," to $1,000 for a "General Manager."

The party begins at 5:30 p.m.

PROUD GRANDFATHER. In the closing days of the legislative session, D'Allesandro was especially proud of his grandson, Anthony Smith of Salem.

Five-year-old Anthony had been featured in this newspaper and elsewhere. He wears hearing aids and at one point told his mother he did not want to wear them any longer because superheroes did not wear hearing aids.

Word of Anthony's concern got to Marvel Comics, where artists Nelson Ribeiro and Manny Medeiros sketched out a special character just for Anthony,named Blue Ear.

As Iron Man's sidekick, Blue Ear uses his special blue hearing aids to hear others in need of help.

"Blue Ear has since become an extension of who Anthony is," Anthony's mom, Christina D'Allesandro, told the New Hampshire Union Leader in February. "He has a Blue Ear costume, which he wears all the time."

The story made it way to Reader's Digest, which featured Anthony as one of the 50 "reasons we love America" in its July edition.

Grandpa Lou always beams when speaking of his remarkable grandson, but especially so after the Reader's Digest piece was published.

URGING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. Retired Marine Sgt. Paul Chevalier of Hudson recently met with Shaheen and Ayotte in Washington as part of a national group, Vets4Energy, retired veterans who are focused on energy security. Chevalier, who was among vets from 26 states, urged the senators to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standards mandates in the Energy Independence and Security Act that he says are unnecessary.

(John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @jdistaso.)

For earlier Granite Status reports, click on "Granite Status" above.


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