By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
SATURDAY, JUNE 7: THE MYSTERY PAC. A super PAC filed more than a month ago to promote Jim Rubens for the U.S. Senate has hired a local strategist and has begun advertising on billboards and online.
While the people behind the super PAC want to remain anonymous for now, we’ve learned that they have hired veteran state and national GOP operative Michael Dennehy as a consultant to handle operations.
Dennehy said only that the super PAC’s are Granite Staters.
The New Hampshire PAC to Save America was filed on April 28 by its treasurer, former FEC Chairman David Mason, a top executive with Aristotle, a Washington political technology firm.
Dennehy said Mason was hired by the PAC to handle its paperwork and filings, a specialty of Aristotle, and so, Dennehy said, Mason’s name on the filing implies nothing more about his involvement beyond administrative work.
The people who organized the PAC “approached me about being the consultant for the PAC,” Dennehy said. “I have known Jim Rubens for 20 years and I believe Jim is an authentic conservative who has never been satisfied with the status quo in government, and I decided to help them.”
Dennehy said, “There will be a good amount of advertising by the PAC, but it’s uncertain now all of the vehicles that will be used.”
In the past week, several billboards have sprung up across the state, such as the one pictured above in Hooksett. There is also search engine-based online advertising underway.
As for the tone of the advertising, Dennehy said he expects it to be “pro-Jim Rubens.”
Dennehy, by the way, is a member of the board of directors of New Hampshire Journal but has no involvement in its operation.
Word of the super PAC, first reported by the Center for Public Integrity, surprised Rubens, according to his spokesman, Brian Tilton.
Rubens is the sole beneficiary of the super PAC funds. Its web site is RubensforNH.com and touts Rubens as “an authentic conservative” in favor of “conservative reform” in the Senate and for the economy.
”New Hampshire deserves authenticity,” the web site and a separate Facebook page say.
Rubens’ campaign immediately sent out an email trying to raise its own funds as a result of the super PAC.
“This type of independent activity shows that outside organizations are identifying Rubens as the candidate that best represents New Hampshire,” the campaign wrote. “Their financial investment shows they believe that Rubens has also built the infrastructure and broad support that positions him to win.”
The web site and the formal FEC filing list the PAC’s address as Two Capital Plaza, Concord. That is the address of the Cleveland, Waters and Bass law firm.
Attorney Bryan Gould of that firm confirmed to Granite Reports that the super PAC is a client of the firm, but he would not say if he is personally handling its legal issues, or who at the firm is.
Gould also said he is personally neither in support of, nor opposed to, Rubens. He noted that in his role as Chairman of the Merrimack County Republican Committee, he forbidden from taking sides in a GOP primary.
Mason isn’t talking about the super PAC. He told the Center for Public Integrity, “We’re going to file what we’re required to disclose when we’re required to disclose it. No public announcements.”
Mason is senior vice president of Compliance Services at firm Aristotle, and according to its web site, he “assists campaigns, PACs, and political parties in maximizing their effectiveness while complying with federal and state regulatory requirements.”
He served as an FEC Commissioner from 1998 to 2008 and was chairman twice, in 2002 and 2008. He previously was a vice president and senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank.
Aristotle has its own PAC filed with the FEC, also with Mason as the treasurer. But it made no contributions during the 2012 cycle, according to records on file with the commission.
Mason also filed a Aristotle International Inc. PAC with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office in June 2011. But again, there is no evidence of any activity during the 2012 campaign.
The New Hampshire PAC to Save America is the second super PAC set up on the GOP side in the U.S. Senate primary.
New Hampshire Journal reported last week former Journal co-owner Patrick Hynes is the treasurer of a super PAC established to help Rubens primary opponent Scott Brown.
ENDORSEMENT SEASON: With the state primary elections about three months away, we are at the height of endorsement season:
_ A big one, though certainly not a surprise, came on Friday when the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire backed Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for reelection.
_ Second District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia rolled out a finance team on Thursday headed by former House Deputy Majority Leader Steve Stepanek and Seacoast energy executive Mike Boyle. Also on the committee are Beverly Bruce of Tuftonboro, Bill Greiner of Bedford, who owns The Copper Door Restaurant, real estate executive Bob Rohrer, Reps. Carol and Dan McGuire of Epsom, Portsmouth executives Jay Levy and Dan and Renee Plummer, insurance executive Jeff Foy, Dr. Phillip Mansour of Goffstown, conservative activist Shannon McGinley, attorney Steve Cohen and real estate executive Thomas Farrelly.
_ Republican candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway released a list of 50 supporters this week, which includes former state Rep. and current state Senate candidate Kevin Avard and activists George Johnson of Bedford, Jodi Lavoie Carnes and Scott Carnes of Rollinsford, Doug and Lucy Lu Kilgore of Manchester, Conor Kilgore of Concord, Chris Silk of Fremont and Peg Breton of Center Conway.
_ Rubens picked up the endorsements this week of Lakes Region Tea Party leader Mark Biller, former state Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Harrington, state Rep. Mark Warden of Goffstown and activist Mar-Mar Rogers of Hollis.
_ Up-and-coming Republican star Luis Fortuno, the former Governor of Puerto Rico, will be the featured speaker at the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women’s annual Lilac Luncheon and Flag Day Celebration next Saturday, June 14. The event will be held at the Holiday Inn in Concord, 11:00 a.m.
_ Candidate for governor Walt Havenstein will be the featured speaker Tuesday, June 10 at a monthly meeting of the Barnstead-Alton-Gilmanton Republican Committee at J.J. Goodwin’s Restaurant in Center Barnstead.
_ Second Congressional District Republican candidate Gary Lambert, trying to make foreign policy a focus of his campaign, has challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster to a debate. Lambert made the request after Kuster made what he and the conservative advocacy group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire said was an “incoherent statement” on the controversy surrounding the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange.
_ Veteran GOP activists Steve and Susan Duprey will be honored by the Boy Scouts of American Daniel Webster Council with its “Distinguished Citizens Awards” at its annual event on June 17 at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester. Steve Duprey is president of Foxfire Property Management, Inc. and a Republican National Committeeman, while Susan Duprey is shareholder at Devine, Millimet and Branch, P.A. and has had key roles in several top GOP campaigns. The event chairman is Jim Merrill, New Hampshire director of The Bernstein Shur Group and a longtime GOP strategist.
_ Back-to-back-to-back GOP primary debates for candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House are slated for Aug. 23 at the Exeter Town Hall. The marathon is being sponsored by the Exeter Republican Town Committee, the Rockingham County Republican Committee and the Seacoast Republican Women. Moderator will be Jeff Chidester, a political commentator and host of the talk-radio show, “New Hampshire Perspectives.”
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist/reporter in New Hampshire. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column as news breaks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)