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August 26. 2014 7:45PM

Complaints fly over NH gubernatorial campaign contributions

CONCORD — The Attorney General’s Office has been inundated with requests to investigate campaign finance contributions and more were filed Tuesday.

Democrats asked the attorney general to investigate alleged violations by GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein, while Republicans allege Gov. Maggie Hassan may not have received a donation from Emily’s List before contribution limits were imposed.

Originally, Republicans claimed the national political action committee Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates, did not file reports with the Secretary of State’s Office as required by law.

However the reports were filed and GOP chair Jennifer Horn changed her request to review the timing of a $25,000 contribution to Hassan’s campaign.

For their part, Democrats claim Havenstein began spending money on political activity before registering with the Secretary of State’s Office, accepted money from an out-of-state PAC not registered with the state and failed to supply legally required information on campaign donors.

Democrats say Havenstein’s finance problems fit a pattern of problems including owing the State of Maryland $9,000 for improperly taking a homestead tax credit while living in that state.

“Given failed CEO Walt Havenstein’s history of doublespeak, tax evasion, and scandals, no one should be surprised by his hypocrisy when it comes to campaign finance,” said state Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley. “Havenstein’s multiple violations of New Hampshire campaign finance law are just the latest example of his scandal-ridden failed leadership and lack of integrity. The only question now is: what will Havenstein say to try to avoid accountability this time?”

Havenstein’s campaign said the complaint is without merit.

In his letter to Attorney General Joseph Foster, Buckley alleges:

Havenstein spent $24,000 on campaign activities before he registered his exploratory committee with the SOS;

Havenstein accepted money from two federal PACs belonging to a Michigan congressman and a former U.S. Michigan senator, but not registered in New Hampshire;

And Havenstein failed to provide the occupations or employers of dozens of his contributors or any information about the employment location of contributors making contributions of $100 or greater.

“The complaint is without foundation. The Democrats are desperately attempting to distract from the Hassan loophole,” said campaign spokesman Henry Goodwin. “The issue concerning voters is that Maggie Hassan has taken unlimited contributions from special interest groups through her loophole. She is supposedly a champion of campaign finance reform, but has left people with the impression that influence can be bought.”

Goodwin said Havenstein spent some of his own money to explore a potential run, before there was a campaign. Once he decided to run and formed his campaign committee, he reported the early expenditures, he said.

The campaign believes that the contributions in question are consistent with the attorney general’s most recent rulings, Goodwin said, and the campaign has requested information from all donors and will continue to collect it.

Earlier, Republicans said Hassan accepted a $50,000 contribution from Emily’s List, and state Sens. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, and Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis, and Democratic state Senate candidates Kass Ardinger of Concord and Linda Tanner of Sunapee accepted $1,000 donations.

State Party Chair Jennifer Horn claimed Emily’s List had failed to file the required reports with the Secretary of State’s Office June 18 and Aug. 20 which is in violation of state law.

However, The Emily’s List reports Horn alleges were not filed are available on the Secretary of State’s website.

The June 18 report shows two $25,000 contributions to the Friends of Maggie Hassan on June 3 and 9, and two $25,000 contributions to the NH Democratic Party on Sept. 9 2013, and March 21.

The contributions to Hassan came before she officially filed to seek re-election June 12 and not subject to the $1,000 limitation after that date.

Horn has filed other requests to investigate contributions to Hassan’s campaign, which has returned $33,000 in money from union PACs that came a day after the state’s contribution limit went into effect.

In her revised letter to the attorney general Tuesday, Horn questions if Hassan’s campaign actually received the money before the deadline.

“Given her history of illegal behavior there is reason to believe that she may have physically accepted the donation from EMILY’s list after the deadline,” Horn wrote. “All unlimited donations accepted by Governor Hassan’s campaign around the time that she filed must be scrutinized given that the governor has already demonstrated that she is willing to break campaign finance laws.”

grayno@unionleader.com


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