FEC: GUINTA CASE UNRESOLVED. During the recent campaign between Frank Guinta and Carol Shea-Porter, she again raised the issue of a 2010 Federal Election Commission complaint against Guinta by the state Democratic Party, questioning the source of as much as $355,000 in loans he made to his campaign that year.
Guinta said more than four years ago he had forgotten to include the source of the loan on his personal financial disclosure report. He filed an amended report listing an account valued at between $250,000 and $500,000. Unconvinced that this account truly existed, Democrats called on Guinta to produce bank statements for the account, a demand he has refused. If the money came from an outside source other than Guinta, he could be guilty of accepting a campaign contribution that far exceeds the federal limit of $2,600 per election.
At the same time, Democrats filed the complaint with the FEC. A complaint was also filed with the House Ethics Committee, which was resolved with no finding of any violations by Guinta. But Guinta said, and continued to say through the recent campaign against Shea-Porter, that the FEC matter was also resolved and that he had been exonerated.
When Shea-Porter asked him about it during a WMUR debate in October, Guinta said, “The FEC, in December of 2010, a month after the election and before I was even sworn into office, said that I was exonerated, that I was in full compliance.” He accused Shea-Porter of “lying about my record.”
Guinta on the day of the debate had just begun airing an ad that also accused Shea-Porter of lying about his record. The ad noted the House Ethics Committee “100 percent cleared” Guinta, but made no mention of the complaint filed with the FEC.
Shea-Porter continued to say during the campaign that he had not been cleared and that FEC had told her campaign the matter was still under review. Guinta, of course, won the election.
Now comes Bob Perry, a former Democratic state representative from Strafford, who checked with the FEC and, according to a letter he wrote this week to Foster’s Daily Democrat, found that the FEC matter has still not been resolved.
His letter contains a quote from FEC press officer Judith Ingham, saying, “The Commission did receive one more complaint in which Mr. Guinta was a respondent and the N.H. Democratic Party was a complainant. Unfortunately, we cannot provide any information about that complaint. To protect the interests of those involved in a complaint, the law requires that any Commission action on a MUR (Matter Under Review) be kept strictly confidential until the case is resolved.”
We checked with Ingraham ourselves on Friday and she explained that she is able to confirm that the FEC received a complaint against Guinta filed by the NHDP and there has been no resolution reported at this point in time.
She said that only after matters are resolved are they reported on the FEC docket report, within 30 days. And she said she found no report yet of a resolution.
Guinta campaign advisor Ethan Zorfas declined comment. But Shea-Porter spokesman Marjorie Connolly sharply criticized Guinta.
“This statement from the Federal Election Commission shows Congressman Frank Guinta slandered then-Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and lied to the people of New Hampshire during the campaign,” she said. “He knew he was lying when he said he had been cleared of wrongdoing and he knew he was lying when he called Carol a liar in speeches, ads, and in televised debate. Now, we wait for the Federal Election Commission to tell us if he also illegally funded his campaign.”
SECOND TERM FOR HORN LIKELY. Jennifer Horn is in line to become the first NHGOP chairman since former Steve Duprey to serve more than a single two-year term as in the post. Duprey served four terms ending in January 2001.
No major opposition to Horn is expected to Horn when the Republican State Committee meets this morning at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry. That said, it should be noted that nominations can be made from the floor.
For Horn, it would be an important vote of confidence following a 2014 election that saw the GOP win back the New Hampshire House, extend its majority in the state Senate, win back control of the Executive Council and win a U.S. House seat, while losing the U.S. Senate race, the governor’s race and the the 2nd District U.S. House seat. It would give the party some continuity moving into what looks to be a raucous first-in-the-nation primary campaign – and state legislative session.
Anything can happen at a GOP state committee meeting, but we’ve detected no revolt in the making against Horn. Generally speaking, the various factions of party seems pleased with her performance.
But, is the party ready to begin paying its chairman a commission?
We’ll see. As we’ve reported, the most controversial of six proposed bylaw amendments would begin paying the chair a commission of 9 percent of funds raised by the party annually. Payment would be on a monthly basis.
The amount would fluctuate, but based on the past two year of fundraising, as we’ve reported, after some confusion, the party staff calculated that Horn would have received an average of $53,000 a year over the past two years.
With a presidential primary election campaign up this year and early next, and then a presidential general election and a U.S. Senate election headlining 2016, the amount could be higher over the next two years.
We certainly won’t predict if this will pass. But we will say that we’ve spoken to more people who think it won’t pass than we have people who think it will. For what that’s worth.
Another key bylaw amendment was spurred by the split in the state House Republican caucus over Speaker Shawn Jasper’s successful challenge to GOP House caucus nominee Bill O’Brien. It would allow the state GOP chair to suspend a state committee member who supports “an opponent of the Republican Party’s nominee.”
Meanwhile, one only candidate has filed for each other other top party offices as well – but again floor nominations may be made.
The slate of officer candidates are: Vice Chair- Bryan Gould; Treasurer- Rob Kasper; Assistant Treasurer- Eileen Smiglowski; Secretary- Jane Lane; Assistant Secretary- Dam Garthwaite; Area Vice Chair 1- Vicki Schwaegler; Area Vice Chair 2- Ray Tweedie; Area Vice Chair 3- Mark Vincent; Area Vice Chair 4- Jane Johnson; Area Vice Chair 5- Alan Glassman.
FRIDAY, JAN. 9: BROWN OFFERS HIS HELP. Scott Brown told us back in December that he intends to play a role helping Republican presidential candidates get to know New Hampshire. He said he would set up roundtable discussions with candidates who ask and state leaders so they can make their cases.
On Friday Brown met in Boston with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and told us afterward offered his help as a “facilitator.” He tweeted a photo of himself, his wife, Gail and Bush from a law office in Boston after telling the Boston Herald he intends to help Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He told us he will also meet at some point with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who helped Brown’s Senate run, although as of today, there was no meeting planned for next Wednesday, when Paul returns to New Hampshire.
“Nothing has changed,” Brown said. “We are in the process of putting everything together. But it is appropriate because the people of New Hampshire would like to see these guys and, having recently done a campaign, I understand what it takes to run. I want to make sure the candidates understand that if they participate they have to spend time and get to know some people and the strengths and pitfalls of running in New Hampshire. Whether that means having them over to my house for a meet and greet or a form or a town hall or meetings with activists, I can make various offers to help.
“Like everybody, (Bush) is testing the waters and listening and learning. He is in the process of making those determinations, but they have to be careful of what they do or say so they don’t trigger any FEC (Federal Election Commission) requirements.
Brown said that Bush obviously intends to come to New Hampshire at some point, but, “We didn’t get into specifics of timing because he is still listening and learning.”
Brown said he will also make himself available to help other candidates make contacts with key Republican players in New Hampshire.
“I’m going to be more of a facilitator,” he said, adding that he realizes Sen. Kelly Ayotte will be busy in Washington and gearing up her own reelection run.
Brown attended the inauguration of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday, as did potential presidential contender New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
LIZZY LANDS ON BEACON HILL. A familiar face to Granite State reporters has landed in the Massachusetts State House. Elizabeth Guyton, Brown’s campaign communications director, now has the same role with Baker. She occupies the same office once occupied by former NHGOP communications director Ryan Williams, when he worked in Mitt Romney’s governor’s office.
PARODY HANDLE. Brown will also be a subject of “carpetbagger” jokes to his critics. The latest was a new Twitter account, @ScottBrownCA, which popped up after California Sen. Barbara Boxer announced her retirement. The profile simply says, “Proud to have long and strong ties to the Golden State.”
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political reporter/columnist in New Hampshire. He has been reporting on Granite State politics since 1980. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column and of course separate stories on NHJournal.com as news breaks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)