Shaheen vote on stimulus funding raises questions
CONCORD — New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn on Wednesday called on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to fully address unanswered questions about her financial interests in a company that received federal stimulus funding.
Shaheen voted for the $787 billion stimulus program, and her husband works for a prominent lobbying firm that helped clients get some of the federal money. He also worked as an adviser to the firm.
In 2009, Bill Shaheen became an adviser to a Southern California startup, Ultrawave labs, which was developing new technology to screen for breast cancer. Around the same time his firm, Shaheen and Gordon, created a “Stimulus Opportunities Team.”
The New Hampshire Democrat also signed letters seeking $150 million to maintain a Defense Department breast cancer research program. Ultrawave eventually received $78,000 in federal stimulus funding.
“Today’s report raises very serious ethical questions about Sen. Shaheen’s finances and a conflict of interest involving her husband’s lobbying firm,” said Horn, referring to an article in the Boston Globe. “She has long championed the wasteful stimulus boondoggle, and it’s troubling to learn that she financially benefited from a company that received stimulus funding.”
A Shaheen campaign spokesman denied that the family benefited from the federal support for Ultrawave, saying Bill Shaheen had stock options in the company, but they were never exercised.
Mike Noonan, managing director and president of Shaheen and Gordon, said the Manchester law firm’s Stimulus Opportunities Team existed for a very brief time.
“Mr. Shaheen was not the firm’s managing partner at that time and was not a member of the team,” he said.
Harrell Kirstein, communications director at the Shaheen campaign office, said the senator’s support for breast cancer research had nothing to do with Ultrawave.
“Jeanne Shaheen is proud to be a leader in the fight to improve women’s health care and has been for more than 20 years,” he said. “Any attempt to use her tireless advocacy for women’s health care for political attacks is outrageous. As governor, she signed a law requiring insurers to cover reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy and in the Senate she has been working to expand preventive care, cancer research, and access to family planning resources.”
Republicans maintain that Shaheen’s vote for the stimulus package was a conflict of interest, given her husband’s interest in Ultrawave.
“It absolutely is a concern,” Charlton Copeland, former chair of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust and a professor at the University of Miami told the Boston Globe. “It raises questions because so much of the work of this kind of policy-making takes place outside of the specter of the public eye.”