CONCORD - Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein said Gov. Maggie Hassan got "caught with her hand in the cookie jar" when her campaign was ordered to return $24,000 in campaign contributions deemed in violation of state law because the funds were delivered a day late.
"Maggie Hassan has just demolished the integrity of New Hampshire's campaign finance rules for her own selfish political ends," said Havenstein, who said he would work to change the state law so political action committees and individuals are treated the same.
Attorney General Joseph Foster ordered the governor's political action committee to repay $24,000 it received from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC, according to a ruling released Friday.
The governor's campaign will refund the money.
"While all of the contributions were issued before the deadline, we will return the funds that were physically delivered after the deadline in line with the Department of Justice's guidance," said Hassan campaign spokesman Aaron Jacobs.
Glenn Brackett, business manager for IBEW Local 2320 in Manchester, which represents the entire state, said the $25,000 donation from the IBEW came from a Washington PAC, not a New Hampshire one.
GOP candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway said: "The AG added much -needed clarity to N.H.'s outdated campaign finance laws."
The state Republican Party had objected to contributions of $10,000 each from the Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education, a political action committee, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Active Ballot Club PAC, as well as a $25,000 contribution from the IBEW PAC.
The GOP argued that the contributions violated a state law, RSA 644:4, which sets a $5,000 limit that campaigns must adhere to before candidates officially declare their candidacies.
Foster's ruling, which also sought to "provide clear guidance" on the law, said that the contributions can be made up until midnight on the day a candidate officially files for candidacy.
Hassan filed her candidacy on June 12, which is when the two $10,000 contributions were delivered to her campaign, according to the ruling. The $25,000 contribution, however, was made by the IBEW PAC on June 12, but not physically delivered to the campaign until June 13, meaning it had to adhere to another portion of the law that calls for contributions from political committees to be limited to $1,000 upon declaration of candidacy.
"Because it exceeded the limit by $24,000, the Friends Committee will be ordered to return $24,000 to the IBEW PAC," Foster wrote.