Campaign 2014: Brown criticized for, defends role in obscure firm; Shaheen cited in ethics complaint; GOP talks ‘Turkey’

The latest from the campaign trail:


TUESDAY, JUNE 3: BROWN CRITICIZED. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown has been the target of intense criticism from Democrats and questions from a a GOP primary competitor after continuing to defend his role as an advisor for an obscure Florida company from which he received stock worth $1.3 million.


According to the Boston Globe, the company, Global Digital Solutions Inc., has no revenue, no patents, no trademarks, no manufacturing facilities and is $19.7 million in debt.


The value of the stock has reportedly dropped dramatically. The firm has undergone several incarnations, from a cosmetics firm in New Jersey to a wireless data firm in California and now markets itself as a firearms innovator in Florida.


Brown has refused to say how he became involved in the firm but said it is a legitimate start-up company.


“They wanted somebody who had a military background who could offer guidance and advice and be a sounding board,” said Brown, who retired from the National Guard. “Just like others do.”


Details of the investment would have been made public in a financial disclosure form that Brown and other Senate candidates are required to file, but Brown has received an extension from the May 15 deadline and now has until Aug. 9 to make the disclosure.


“Since leaving office, Scott Brown has cashed in with shady characters running a questionable company,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Julie McClain.


“New Hampshire deserves honest answers about Scott Brown’s role in this shady company, how he became involved, what role he has there, and why he isn’t filing his personal financial disclosure.”


Former Sen. Bob Smith, who is also running for the Senate again and is a former chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, called on Brown to file the disclosure form immediately.


TUESDAY, JUNE 3: SHAHEEN CITED. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is among nine Democratic senators cited in a complaint by a conservative group to the Senate Ethics Committee allegedly for pushing the IRS to investigate advocacy groups, many of them conservative.


The Center for Competitive Politics announced their complaint Tuesday.


“These senators improperly attempted to use the IRS to suppress the free speech of American citizens for their party’s electoral gain,” said Brad Smith, chairman of the Center and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “We will fight this type of abuse of power and work to ensure that those who have violated Senate Ethics rules are held to account.”


The group is also targeting Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chuck Schumer of New York, Carl Levin of Michigan, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Al Franken of Minnesota, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Udall of New Mexico.


The complaint accuses them of “improperly interfering with the administrative proceedings of the Internal Revenue Service for the purpose of suppressing the First Amendment speech rights of certain nonprofit organizations.”


It charged, “These Senators appear to have violated Senate rules and norms and abused the power of their office in an effort to advance their political party’s campaign and electoral objectives between 2010 and 2012.”


The group says the senators’ calls for investigations – in Shaheen’s case as one of six senators who signed a letter to the IRS commissioner — were tantamount to pressuring the IRS to conduct audits of conservative groups and their calls for investigations and could be construed as campaign activity.
“These are serious allegations against Senator Shaheen,” said GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown. “The IRS should never be used to exact political revenge against opponents or groups that you disagree with. Senator Shaheen has an obligation to fully explain her motives in this case, which has left the very real impression she used the IRS for partisan political purposes.”


Democrats dismissed the complaint as a political stunt.

TUESDAY, JUNE 3: TALKING TURKEY. The two Republican candidates for governor Tuesday criticized Gov. Maggie Hassan for her plans to go forward with a June 20-27 trade mission to Turkey despite Hassan’s own recent executive order freezing out-of-state travel.


Commissioner of Resources and Economic Development Jeffrey Rose defends the trip in a opinion piece elsewhere on New Hampshire Journal.


Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein said, “Trade missions are an important part of the Governor’s role, but they can only be effective if they are part of a coherent strategy. Companies will be asking what the Governor’s plan is for bringing business to New Hampshire from other states. They might also wonder why Turkey was chosen over our more important trading partners, such as Canada and Mexico.


“Maggie Hassan has offered no leadership to end the stagnation in New Hampshire and has no economic development plan,” Havenstein said. “Until we change the fiscal and regulatory environment in New Hampshire to make it easier to do business here, it will be difficult to persuade companies to invest and grow here. A trade mission without an economic development plan is just a vacation.


“The Governor may not think that $15,000 (the cost of the trip) is a lot, but to hard working Granite State taxpayers, it is a waste of their money at a time when business receipts are tumbling and the rainy day fund is empty,” Havenstein said.


The state Democratic Party called Havenstein’s criticism “incoherent.”


“Walt Havenstein embodies hypocrisy at its worst, attempting to provide advice on the fiscal stewardship of our state even though he couldn’t be trusted to protect taxpayer dollars while his company committed massive fraud and criminally overcharged the city of New York during his time as CEO,” said a party spokesman.


The spokesman was referring to Havenstein’s leadership of Science Applications International Corp. of New York City during the period that it agreed to pay $500 million to resolve federal claims that it conspired to defraud the city.


Republican candidate Andrew Hemingway launched an online petition asking supporters to “Tell Maggie to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on family vacations and unnecessary junkets.” One of Hassan’s daughters is going on the trip, at Hassan’s personal expense.
“If our revenue projections are coming in under expectations and we are running in the red, why would the Governor take a trip to Turkey, of all places?” asked Hemingway.


“Particularly after telling everyone else that they can’t travel out of state? The hypocrisy and irresponsibility of such a trip is dumb-founding and very upsetting to the public, which is why we have launched a petition.”


The conservative group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, which elicited details of the trip by filing a right-to-know request, on Tuesday filed another right-to-know request with Hassan’s office seeking more details on the result of her executive order banning out-of-state travel.


“Hypocrisy like this is exactly why Granite Staters distrust our elected officials,” said Citizens group executive director Matthew Murphy. “Regardless of how she or her departments try and justify it, the fact that she can’t even abide by her own travel freeze proves we don’t just have budgetary problems in Concord, we have a crisis of honestly and leadership.”



TUESDAY, JUNE 3: BROWN ENERGY TOUR. Republican former Sen. Scott Brown Tuesday was in the second day of a tour promoting an “all of the above” energy policy called “Making Energy Affordable.”

Brown began the tour at a Windham gas station on Monday and on Tuesday visited a restaurant in Newington.

Brown support increasing supplies of natural gas, expanding biofuels and renewables, and says that nuclear power “has prominent role to play” in the state’s energy future. But he also opposed taxing carbon emissions, calling it a “national energy tax” that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has supported.



Brown called for moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline, increasing natural and oil production on federal lands and stronger congressional oversight of the EPA’s rulemaking process.


Author: John DiStaso

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