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August 13. 2014 9:59PM

NHGOP robocalls over Hassan's labor contributions

CONCORD — The state Republican Party on Wednesday began making “tens of thousands of robocalls” about what it calls Gov. Maggie Hassan’s illegal campaign contributions.

In an ongoing battle over about $33,000 in contributions from labor unions that Hassan’s campaign returned because they were received a day after contributions were limited to $1,000 per election, the NHGOP robocalls contend the illegal contributions create “the appearance of improper influence” and say New Hampshire families deserve honesty.

Attorney General Joseph Foster ruled the campaign had to return $24,000 of the $25,000 contribution from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ political action committee in June because it was received the day after she officially filed to run for re-election. As such, Foster said the donation exceeded the $1,000 limit placed on candidates who refuse to abide by the state’s voluntary spending limit, as most do.

Until a candidate officially files with the Secretary of State, Foster’s ruling said, there is no limit on contributions to an exploratory PAC.

Asks AG to recuse himself

Wednesday the NHGOP also asked for a clarification and formal opinion on another Attorney General’s Office ruling that the “Friends of Maggie Hassan” did not have to file a financial accounting in June, because it was converted to a “candidate PAC” the same day Hassan filed for governor.

Candidate PACs do not have to file financial reports until Aug. 20.

And the GOP asked Foster to recuse himself, arguing among other things that as a state Senate candidate, he accepted contributions from the same union PACs that are now in question.

“I am e specially requesting that you provide me with an official determination on your role in this investigation. I have asked that you recuse yourself from this probe given that you served on then-candidate Hassan’s finance committee in 2012 when one of the questionable donations was made,” NHGOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn wrote in a letter to Foster. “If there is any further doubt that you should recuse yourself, it has come to my attention that during your previous career as a state senator you frequently accepted political donations from Big Labor.”

Dems: Political ploys

But Democrats contend all the attention on contributions and past elections is an attempt to divert voters’ attention away from the real issues.“It’s clear from the New Hampshire Republican Party’s manufactured outrage and continued political ploys that they’re absolutely desperate to distract attention from their flailing candidates, like failed CEO Walt Havenstein and conservative activist Andrew Hemingway who are tripping over themselves to embrace the failed Bill O’Brien/Koch Brothers agenda that would take New Hampshire backwards,” said Democratic Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lesswing.

“Voters will see through the New Hampshire Republican Party’s misleading attacks and continue to stand with Governor Hassan because they support her efforts to solve long-standing challenges and get real results for New Hampshire’s people, businesses and economy.”

Hassan has no significant opposition in the Democratic primary. Republicans Havenstein and Hemingway will face off in the Sept. 9 primary.

grayno@unionleader.com


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