By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21: FORTUNO FOR GARCIA. Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia will receive high-powered help at an upcoming Washington fund-raiser.
Granite Reports has learned former Gov. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico will keynote the June 12 event for Garcia, which is expected to attract a diverse crowd, including many conservative activists of Hispanic descent.
Fortuno, a top Hispanic leader, was in New Hampshire in March to speak at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference. He was governor from January 2009 to January 2013.
As a board member of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on helping Republicans get elected to state level posts, Fortuno mentioned Garcia, a four-term state representative in an opinion piece on Fusion.net in March.
Fortuno wrote that the RSLC’s Future Majority Project “spent more than $5 million in the 2012 cycle in support of 125 new Hispanic candidates and 191 new female candidates who pursued state-level office.” Garcia is a member of the Future Majority Caucus board.
“To win future elections,” Fortuno wrote, Republicans “must examine not only what we say, but how we say it and who delivers our message. In short, we need more John Cabellos (an Illinois House member) oand Marilinda Garcias.”
Garcia supporters believe this fund-raiser is evidence that the “right of center Hispanic community” is rallying behind her candidacy. The event is expected to attract Republicans of Hispanic descent and otherwise from across the country.
The event will be held in the Washington building that houses the RSLC offices.
The RSLC describes itself as a “527” organization under the IRS code but says it voluntarily files reports of all contributions and expenditures on a monthly basis.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
FRIDAY, MAY 16: BROWN AND GONH. It should be quite a meeting on Tuesday evening when Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown talks to the membership of one of the largest pro-Second Amendment groups in the state, the Gun Owners of New Hampshire.
The meeting of the GONH board of directors is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. at the Concord Holiday Inn — and Brown should have some ‘splainin’ to do.
The group’s web site, perhaps anticipating fireworks, says, “As always, we insist members be polite and respectful when addressing any candidate who comes to speak at our monthly meetings. This is important so candidates will continue to come before GONH members to better understand who we are, what we do, and what our position is regarding the Second Amendment. At Gun Owners of New Hampshire, our motto remains to inform and educate our members and the public with facts so please keep this in mind while addressing the candidates!”
GONH vice president Ralph DeMicco, owner of Riley’s Gun Shop in Hooksett, said of Brown, “He’s in a tenuous situation. He has a questionable voting record.”
Brown and DeMicco spoke at the shop when Brown recently visited.
“I have told him that you’re not my first choice, but you’re obviously the party’s first choice,” DeMicco said. He suggested that Brown “be clear on the terminology and if you sinned, you must go to confession and say, ‘Look, I did vote this way but I was mistaken.”
DeMicco noted that politicians almost never admit they made a mistake, but, “That’s what he needs to do.” He said Brown should own up to his past support for a “modern sport rifle” (so-called assault weapons) ban and say he now realizes “there is no significant difference between this gun and that gun.”
Although he expects the group to be polite, DeMicco said the questions will be direct.
He likened it to a Q-and-A before the British Parliament, adding, “I’ll have my wig on.” He said Brown’s campaign asked that no media be present, which, DeMicco said, is “kind of unusual.”
DeMicco said the board has already met with Brown GOP primary opponents Jim Rubens, Bob Smith and Karen Testerman.
He said that the GO-NH board, as a 501 corporation, cannot and will not endorse anyone in any race, but he said he has already made a personal donation, last year, to Testerman’s campaign. He said it remains to be seen if he ends up endorsing her in the primary.
The board will eventually issue a report card on all the major candidates, as it always does.
NOT A CANDIDATE. DeMicco told Granite Reports that while he has been approached by friends asking him to consider running for the District 16 state Senate seat held by Republican Sen. David Boutin of Hooksett, he has no intention of running for an elective office.
“I do believe that Senator Boutin needs to be replaced,” DeMicco said. “But I have never been political other than on the ‘civilian’ end, if you will, testifying in front of committees.
“But I’d be hard-pressed to be able to convince the people of the district that I’d be able to do the job,” DeMicco said modestly.
He added, however, “When Dave Boutin was a brand new senator, he was a pretty good senator. But there are those of us who feel he has gone the RINO (Republican In Name Only) route.”
DeMicco paid Boutin a compliment, sort of.
“He’s an incredible campaigner. He goes to the dump, he knocks on doors.”
TEAMSTERS: BROWN ‘WAS LYING TO OUR FACE.’ One wouldn’t expect the Teamsters to back Brown in any event, but the union, which has long been strong supporters of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, accused the Republican would-be challenger of “lying to our face” on the KeystoneXL pipeline.
In a statement Thursday, Teamsters Local Union 633 secretary-treasurer Dave Laughton commented on reports from Washington that Brown lobbied GOP senators to reject Shaheen’s energy-efficiency bill.
As it turned out, the Republicans and a few Democrats wanted to attach an amendment on Keystone to the energy-efficiency bill, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would not allow it, insisting instead on separate, stand-alone votes.
The Republicans wouldn’t buy that, so the Shaheen bill died and the Keystone vote never happened. Shaheen has been a staunch opponent of the pipeline.
Laughton wrote that on behalf of 6,000 active and retired Teamsters, “I am disgusted that Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown’s blind partisanship appears to have cost us a stand-alone vote to proceed” with the pipeline.
Parting ways with Shaheen on this one, the union strongly endorses the pipeline.
“National news reports reveal that Brown lobbied Republican senators to sink a compromise that would have allowed a clean vote” on the pipeline and the energy-efficiency legislation, wrote Laughton.
“Both projects deserved a vote and now that is less likely to happen because of Scott Brown.”
Laughton then upped the ante:
“In an op-ed and more recently at a rally we co-hosted, Scott Brown claimed that he supported the Keystone pipeline. But clearly when he told us that he wanted to ‘get this done,’ he was just lying to our face. When the rubber hits the road, Scott Brown put his own political goals ahead of the promise he made to us.”
He accused Brown of “Washington-style politics at their worst.”
Brown campaign spokesman Elizabeth Guyton responded: “Actually, it was Jeanne Shaheen who prevented a vote on the Keystone Pipeline, as the congressional record shows. Scott Brown has consistently been in favor of building the Keystone Pipeline. Jeanne Shaheen has consistently tried to stop it from moving forward.”
Shaheen voted against allowing GOP amendments, including the pipeline amendment, to be attached to her bill. She has also voted against it in the past.
The Teamsters endorsed Shaheen in her successful 2008 bid for the Senate, and at the pro-Keystone rally on April 30, the union’s business agent, Richard Laughton, told NH Journal he is a strong supporter of Shaheen, despite her opposition to the pipeline.
“We don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue,” Richard Laughton said. “Are we a bit disappointed? Sure. But there are so many issues we agree with her on. She has been wonderful with us.”
NHGOP Chair Jennifer Horn said Shaheen “has blindly followed orders from the environmental groups that have funded her campaigns and opposed the bipartisan Keystone Pipeline. Instead of standing up for working people, she is doing the bidding of radical billionaire Tom Steyer who is essentially buying her vote against the pipeline with millions in campaign donations. She has ignored the will of her constituents.”
BROWN’S JOINT FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE. Also on the Brown front, he has entered into a Joint Fundraising Committee with three other Senate candidates as a way to maximize funding from donors.
Shaheen is also part of a Joint Fundraising Committee. But Brown’s GOP participation in such a committee was noticed this week because the National Republican Senatorial Committee is participating as part of the agreement and Brown is running in a GOP primary.
The question was: Does the NRSC involvement mean it is taking sides in the Scott Brown-Bob Smith-Jim Rubens- Karen Testerman primary?
No, says an NRSC spokesman.
The spokesman, Brad Dayspring, said the NRSC is neutral in the primary and added in an email, “It’s standard to enter into these agreements with just about any candidate/campaign/state party that requests one. In New Hampshire specifically, I don’t believe any of the other candidates have requested this.”
Dayspring said that any group of campaign committees can form a Joint Fundraising Committee.
“These agreements are more or less fundraising conveniences for all of the parties involved,” he said.
JFCs provide a donor a way to write one check for a large amount. However, the check may not exceed the combined contribution limit for all the participating candidates or committees.
The respected money-in-politics web site OpenSecrets.org explains that a JFC “streamlines the process of fundraising. The participants in the JFC can’t accept more from a single donor than they can on their own, but by approaching donors together they can collect the donations in one quick transaction.”
OpenSecrets says that in the 2012 election, President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney “formed victory committees with their respective national party groups and ten state party groups. Instead of each group approaching a donor and asking for numerous small contributions, one fundraiser representing all of them could ask for one large check.”
The first $5,000 from the donor’s check would go to the presidential campaign, the next $30,800 would go to the national party and then every $10,000 after would go to a state party committee until the donor reached his or her aggregate limit for donations to candidates or parties.”
The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in the McCutcheon case, which threw out aggregate limits as unconstitutional, is expected to balloon the size of JFCs to maximize contributions from big donors.
Brown’s JFC, “GOP Victory Fund 2014,” also includes candidates Bill Cassidy of Lousiana, Steve Daines of Montana and Cory Gardner of Colorado.
The JFC Shaheen participates in is called “Women on the Road to the Senate: 16 and Counting – San Francisco.” It’s authorized by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Friends of Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Shaheen for Senate, (Kay) Hagan for U.S. Senate (North Carolina), Natalie Tennant for Senate (West Virginia), Alison (Lundergan Grimes) for Kentucky, and (Michelle) Nunn for Senate (Georgia).
WHITEHOUSE FUND-RAISER. Sheldon Whitehouse, that is. The U.S. Senator from Rhode Island will be the featured speaker at a fund-raiser for Shaheen on May 23 in Concord.
Tickets range from $50 to $2,600 for top sponsorships.
Co-hosts are activists Susan Arnold, Alice Chamberlin, Jamey French, Elizabeth Hager (the former Republican state lawmaker), and Bruce Putnam.
Today (May 16) Shaheen picked up the endorsement of Sen. Angus King, an independent of Maine.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
WEDNESDAY, MAY 14: TV ADS HIT THREE GOP SENATORS. The conservative advocacy group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire has doubled down on its criticism of three Republican state senator with new TV ads being launched today on cable stations in their districts.
The ads say that Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro and Sens. David Boutin of Hooksett and Nancy Stiles of Hampton have “tried to blend in as fiscal conservatives,” but have “been deceiving taxpayers.”
All three are questioned for voting to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, while Boutin and Stiles are also questioned for supporting the recent gas tax hike.
The ads also note that the Senate “is trying to pass a bill to prevent us from criticizing” their votes. Senate Bill 120 could require advocacy groups such as Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire and others that are critical of politicians of either party, to report their receipts and expenditures.
Critics say the bill is so vague that its effect will depend on how it is interpreted by the Attorney General. They say that if applied to all issue advocacy groups, and if such groups are required to file their expenses and donors with the state, it would be unconstitutional based on the landmark Citizens United decision.
The ads, portraying each of them as a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” began airing a day after Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire questioned the three in similar radio ads.
“The initial cable buys are steady, significant, and will run into June,” the group said of the TV ads.
In a statement, Mike Biundo of Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire said:
“Senators Jeb Bradley, David Boutin, and Nancy Stiles have consistently tried to pull the wool over their constituents’ eyes. They pretend to be conservative, but they have voted like liberal Democrats on important issues such as Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
“What’s even worse? Senator Bradley is attempting to limit groups like Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire from educating Granite Staters on the true nature of our representatives’ records with the passage of Senate Bill 120,” said Biundo.
“He hopes that by silencing organizations like ours, he can continue to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and provide cover for individuals like Senator Boutin and Senator Stiles who even voted to increase our state’s gas tax by 23 percent,” said Biundo. “That’s wrong. New Hampshire residents deserve to know the truth about their legislators’ voting records. Our elected officials, whether they are in Concord or on Capitol Hill, know we will praise them when they vote for policies that limit government, cut taxes, and grow the economy. But when they vote contrary to those ideals, like Senators Bradley, Boutin and Stiles have done, we have no qualms about criticizing them either.”
Boutin declined to comment directly on the ad about him.
“While some people are focusing on politics right now,” he told Granite Reports, “I’m thinking about Police Officer Steve Arkell,” who was killed Monday when he was shot while responding to a domestic disturbance report in Brentwood.
“We are praying for him and his family, and that is what I a focused on,” he said.
Click below to view the three ads:
WEDNESDAY, MAY 14: EDDIE’S IN. Eddie Edwards of Dover, the former chief of the State Liquor Commission enforcement division and current South Hampton Police Chief, has ended what is actually years of speculation and has decided to run for the state Senate.
He announced Wednesday run in the district now represented by Sen. David Watters, a Democrat also of Dover.
The district consists of the cities of Dover and Somersworth, and the towns of Barrington and Rollinsford. So far he is the only Republican who has expressed interest in the seat.
Edwards cited his nine years heading enforcement at the liquor commission as an example of his understanding of “how state government works, and how it doesn’t.” He said that under his leadership, New Hampshire was among the leading states in underage drinking compliance.
“The goal should be to make regulations as simple as necessary to assist business, protect the public, and encourage government transparency,” he said.
He said his top issues are controlling the cost of education, especially at the college level and public safety, especially addressing “the increasingly disturbing epidemic of illegal and prescription drug use.”
Edwards also said he opposes broad based taxes and opposed the recent gas tax increase.
(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.)