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August 27. 2014 8:58PM

AG dismisses GOP's request for Hassan inquiry

CONCORD — The Attorney General’s Office dismissed a complaint filed Tuesday about a $25,000 contribution to Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign by the national Political Action Committee EMILY’s List.

State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn had asked the attorney general to review the donation, saying it may have been made after Hassan officially filed for office June 12, which is when the $1,000 contribution limit went into effect.

Originally Republicans said EMILY’s List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates nationally, did not file reports with the Secretary of State’s Office as required by law.

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

In a letter to Horn Wednesday, Associate Attorney General Richard Head wrote, “Because your complaint fails to state any factual allegation that would constitute a violation of the state’s election laws, we decline to open a file.”

He also warned both parties not to continue filing complaints that do not contain evidence of violations of election laws.

“We have copied the chairman of the Democratic Party on this letter to request that, as we move toward the primary and general election, complaints from either party meet a minimum threshold standard of alleging substantive facts that, if true, would constitute a violation of the election laws,” Head wrote.

On Tuesday, Democrats filed a complaint claiming GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein violated state election laws when he began spending money on political activity before registering with the Secretary of State’s Office, accepted money from out-of-state PACs not registered with the state and failed to supply legally required information on campaign donors.

“The ruling by the Attorney General’s Office reconfirms that the New Hampshire Republican Party’s reckless accusations yesterday were baseless and demonstrates that they are willing to waste taxpayer money in order to deflect attention from failed CEO Walt Havenstein’s ongoing tax evasion and campaign finance scandals,” said state Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lesswing.

The GOP said the rejection is no surprise.

“We are not surprised that Governor Hassan’s handpicked attorney general doesn’t want to move forward with another investigation into her illegal fundraising operation,” said Lauren Zelt, NHGOP spokesman. “Governor Hassan has already proven that she cannot be trusted to tell the truth on her campaign finance reports and has already been forced to return $33,000 in illegal donations. Governor Hassan has lost the public’s confidence as a result of her pattern of illegal behavior, and the Department of Justice should investigate every one of her questionable donations.”

Horn has filed other requests to investigate contributions to Hassan’s campaign.

On Tuesday, Republicans originally 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, claiming all were illegal because the PAC failed to file required receipts and expenditures reports June 18 and Aug. 20.

However, The EMILY’s List reports were 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 state Democratic Party on Sept. 9, 2013, and March 21.

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

Information provided to the attorney general by an attorney for Hassan’s campaign show the donations were deposited into the campaign’s account before the June 12 filing date.

grayno@unionleader.com


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