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August 24. 2014 7:27PM

Brown, Shaheen campaigns spar over outsourcing allegations

Scott Brown's service as a board member for a company that has outsourced some jobs overseas has U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen crying foul even as Republicans claim Shaheen did likewise as governor.

Meanwhile, on a day when both the Union Leader and Nashua Telegraph endorsed Brown, the Nashua paper found itself the subject of a national conservative news outlet that accused the Telegraph of carrying water for Shaheen.

With Brown still needing to win the Sept. 9 Republican primary before facing Shaheen, the political ping-pong seemed in overdrive this weekend.

The Telegraph reported Friday that Brown collected a $270,000 salary while serving as a board member for Kadant Inc., a Massachusetts company that has outsourced jobs to China and other countries “while shielding millions of dollars in profits from U.S. taxes.”

But Brown supporters said the company had also added many jobs in the U.S. and the New Hampshire Republican Party called Shaheen “a hypocrite” on the topic of outsourcing jobs. It claimed that Shaheen's “gubernatorial administration outsourced a state program to India.”

“As governor Jeanne Shaheen brought a contract before the Executive Council that outsourced part of the state's food stamp program to India and approved it. She said and did nothing about outsourcing and has been more than happy to line her pockets with money from companies that outsource while she railed against outsourcing,” said GOP spokesperson Lauren Zelt.

Mike Vlalich, Shaheen's campaign manager, said such attacks have no merit.

He called them “false attacks to distract New Hampshire from the fact that (Brown) voted for tax breaks rewarding companies moving American jobs overseas and is now personally profiting as a director to a company that sent American jobs to China and Mexico.”

In 1997, New York and the six New England states contracted with Citibank to administer a food stamp program to reduce costs. In 2004, it was revealed that Citibank had then subcontracted some of the work to a company in Wisconsin, which in turn further subcontracted a portion of its telephone answering services to India.

Asked whether other governors, including Republicans, involved in the matter should likewise be labeled hypocritical for outsourcing, Zelt said the others' participation in the program is irrelevant because it is Shaheen who has spoken out recently against outsourcing.

“She is the only former governor who is taking to the floor of the United States Senate to discuss this issue even though she turned a blind eye to the state government outsourcing that occurred on her watch,” Zelt said.

Vlalich, said Shaheen's administration did attempt to stop the outsourcing. Officials from several states, including New Hampshire, told the Associated Press 10 years ago that such outsourcing was not part of the contract with Citibank and that they were not made aware of it until years afterwards.

“The Union Leader's own reporting from 10 years ago recognizes that the state of New Hampshire took every effort to prevent outsourcing,” Vlalich said.

Brown in 2012 was one of three Republicans to cross party lines to bring a Democratic-led measure to the floor that would provide incentives to companies to stop outsourcing and bring more jobs to the U.S. However, he also said at the time that he wasn't committed to supporting the bill, which ultimately was killed anyway by a GOP filibuster.

Kadant CEO Thomas O’Brien told the Telegraph that moves to other countries actually resulted in increases in employment at the company’s US. operations. Kadant has 1,800 employees, about 500 of them in the U.S., according to the Telegraph.

Leaked emails

Prior to the Telegraph’s story appearing online, Breitbart News said the “timing of a coming Nashua Telegraph story may cause some to wonder if Democrat Jeanne Shaheen isn’t outsourcing her campaign’s opposition research function to the Nashua Telegraph newspaper.”

Breitbart reprinted three emails to and from reporter Kevin Landrigan and Brown campaign manager Colin Reed that were provided by Brown’s campaign.

Elizabeth Guyton, Brown spokesman, said the campaign gave Breitbart the emails after Telegraph Managing Editor Jonathan Van Fleet tweeted on Friday that the story would appear Sunday.

“Once the Nashua Telegraph tweeted details of their story, we felt it necessary to publicize our response and point out Jeanne Shaheen’s record on outsourcing,” she said Saturday.

Van Fleet said he sent the tweet only to attract more readers to the story.

“Once the insinuation was made that we were sitting on the story for some political reason,” he said, “we decided to publish the story online and let it speak for itself.”

“As far as the Brown campaign’s decision to release emails between Kevin and Kadant executives, it is completely theirs, nor did it change the fact that Scott Brown declined to be interviewed for the story,” Van Fleet said. “We of course, stand by the story and Kevin Landrigan’s solid and thorough reporting.”

The story was Kevin Landrigan’s last for the paper — he was laid off Aug. 12 after 27 years when the Telegraph closed its State House bureau.

tbuckland@unionleader.com


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