By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD — Scott Brown’s pre-official campaign political action committee gave a total of $29,000 to many local Republican committees in March, including $1,000 to each of the 10 county committees.
But one county committee has said: Thanks but no thanks.
The Coos County Republican Committee last week rejected the $1,000 gift from Brown, with the majority feeling it would be inappropriate to take the money from someone running in a Republican primary.
In a press release, Chairman Eric Catman said, “While we understand the donation came with no strings attached, our committee must maintain total impartiality until after the primary. This impartiality must not only be maintained, but be SEEN to be maintained, and accepting this donation would have compromised that. We felt our integrity as a committee could have been called into question and so while we thank Mr. Brown and his PAC for their efforts, we must respectfully decline.”
Catman said that during the meeting, “a number of private individuals” offered to donate their own funds.
Chief among those who did so was Aaron Day, on behalf of the conservative Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire
Day confirmed to NHJournal.com that he, on behalf of the RLCNH offered to replace Brown’s $1,000 with its own. And when others at the meeting kicked in their own pledges, the total offered grew to $2,000.
Day is not a member of the Coos County GOP committee, but attended the meeting in Jefferson to speak to the group. He said the RLCNH is not endorsing in the primary.
Day acknowledged he is a candidate for Republican Party chair, but said the donation was not aimed at trying to win support for his candidacy.
Former county committee chair John Tholl of Whitefield, a Brown supporter, said he was among a group that saw nothing wrong with Brown’s donation, but others did. With the committee split, “we decided rather than fight over the $1,000, the committee voted to accept the $2,000.”
He said some at the meeting were concerned that taking the money would give the appearance that they were supportive of Brown in the primary.
Tholl said that after the meeting, “I found out that Aaron Day is a candidate for the party leadership.”
Tholl said he now feels, “If we were not going to take the money from a candidate for one post, then we should not have taken it from another who is running for another office. “
“There are lot of people on the committee who don’t like Scott Brown and don’t think he represents New Hampshire,” Tholl said. “Others think it would be nice if he had lived in New Hampshire for a long time, but based on learning about his life believe he’s a reasonable person.”
Day, however, said he supported those who wanted to reject the Brown donation. He said he did not tell the group that he is a candidate for state GOP chairman (the election is not until next January), but pointed out his candidacy has been widely reported and was publicly known.
Day said the Coos County flap was an example of many Republicans being frustrated “with Brown manipulating the state party. The contributions are one of the things we have to deal with, but when he uses the NHGOP list for emails and county and town chairs are being asked to shuttle Brown around, frankly, it’s ridiculous.”
Day questioned Brown’s GOP credentials, saying the former Bay State senator had sometimes voted with Democrats “62 or 63 percent of the time.
“The situation highlights the large problems that are happening within the Republican Party,” Day said. “The establishment is not listening to the grassroots and in my opinion, Brown embodies what’s wrong with the institution of the party. People get sick of being told to shut up and vote and are being told we need to focus on electability only to find out after that someone deemed electable really wasn’t.
“I haven’t been to every town committee yet, but I’ve been to a lot of them and there is massive resentment across the board,” Day said. “I have yet to fund a single person who would support Brown based on his issues or history or intellectual capacity to do the job. His supporters are just passionate about him being able to win but are not entirely sure what it means if he does win.”
Regarding questions about Brown’s and his own group’s donation to the Coos County GOP, Day said, “If Scott Brown wants to drop out to the race, I’ll drop out of the race for chairman.”
County chair Catman said his committee “is not a part of the establishment GOP, and we hope candidates and voters understand that. We are a part of the state committee, but we don’t follow in lock step with some of the things going on.
“We believe in promoting independence and liberty, and declining this donation is part of that,” said Catman.