THURSDAY, OCT. 30: SUING THE IRS. The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), a conservative-leaning legal center, filed a federal lawsuit against the IRS in Concord today on behalf of the conservative issues group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, claiming the IRS “is unlawfully delaying the release” of records between the IRS and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Shaheen was among a group of senators who demanded in two letters that the IRS investigate nonprofits, including conservative groups, for being involved in political activities.
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire earlier this years filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demanding the IRS release its correspondence with Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.
According to the ACLJ, the lawsuit contends the IRS “is unlawfully delaying the release of information until after next week’s mid-term elections.” The complaint says the delay “has deprived Strong NH of the opportunity to obtain and effectively convey to the voting public vital information about those seeking re-election.”
“This is the latest in a series of actions by the IRS to interject itself into the election process – a move that reflects the unbridled arrogance of a tax agency out of control,” said ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow. “By refusing to release information between the IRS and a U.S. Senator and a Member of Congress in a timely manner in advance of next week’s election, the IRS is engaging in a deliberate campaign to prevent voters from gaining important information that could have an impact on the outcome of the election.”
The ACLJ contends that as early as February 2010, and for at least the next three years, “the IRS was engaged in a scheme of identifying applications for additional scrutiny from conservative and tea party organizations seeking tax-exemption – operating in an unlawful and unconstitutional manner.”
Click here for the complaint.
The lawsuit contends that the IRS failed to comply with a 20-day response deadline by the FOIA request and recently told Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire that it could expect a response before January 2015, according to ACLJ.
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire spokesman Derek Dufresne said, “For months, the IRS has been stalling and surpassing deadline after deadline in order to delay the release of correspondences between their office and Senator Shaheen and Congresswoman Shea-Porter. Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire has been more than patient waiting for a response, but at this point, we believe that the only means to gain these documents is through litigation.”
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 29. PARTY FINANCES. In the final days of the New Hampshire campaign, the state Democratic Party has about $250,000 more cash on hand that the Republicans, state and federal reports show.
Reports for each party’s state accounts – which can be used for state-focused purposes – show a wide disparity.
In reports filed today with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, the NHDP reported $456,803 on hand in its state account, while the NHGOP reported only $25,702 on hand.
In reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, covering the parties’ federal accounts for the period Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, the NHDP reported $536,029 on hand and the NHGOP, $724,232.
Taken together, the NHDP has about $993,000 on hand, as compared to $750,000 for the NHGOP.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 29: “NO COMPLAINTS.” The Scott Brown Senate campaign takes issue with a conservative talk show host’s assessment that the Republican establishment is giving meager financial support to his campaign.
National talk show host Laura Ingraham said on her program on Tuesday:
“Republicans should be up 10 to 15 points. I think where Republicans aren’t up, we’ve had an establishment that has refused to contribute significant money like we’re seeing with Scott Brown. They are not giving him the resources he needs. How dare they not! So he’s not getting the ad coverage he needs.”
Ingraham also said, “People up in New Hampshire are telling me they aren’t seen any Scott Brown ads on television. Shaheen is pummeling Scott Brown in New Hampshire on television. I need you to go to Scottbrown.com support him– he’s standing up for you, your wages, and your ability to get a decent job. He’s standing against the GOP establishment who’s telling him, ‘Shhh… Be careful how you talk about these issues. We’re going to — wink, wink — tacitly support that executive amnesty so Jeb’s (Bush) okay with it.’ Scott Brown is running his own type of campaign.”
The Brown campaign tells the New Hampshire Journal, however, that Ingraham’s assessment “is not true. We don’t have any complaints.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has made a $1 million transfer to the NHGOP and has made about $1.2 million in independent expenditures on behalf of Brown, for a total of about $2.2 million invested in the race, according the committee spokesman Brad Dayspring.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
SATURDAY, OCT. 25: IN HIS WHEELHOUSE. It’s just a fact: it was a rough week on the debate circuit for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
The Democratic incumbent tried at every turn during two separate hour-long debates to bring the conversations back to her strong point – her many years serving the state as governor and, now as a U.S. senator, and even in the past as a state senator.
She brought up her work for the Berlin Prison, her work to secure funding for the I-93 expansion, her work for the Jobs Corps Center in Manchester, her work for individual constituents.
She tried and tried to emphasize her deep roots in the Granite State. She tried at every opportunity to cast Scott Brown as an outsider, an opportunist, a guy who, unable to win in Massachusetts, conveniently moved into his summer home in New Hampshire to use the state as a stepping stone – perhaps even higher office.
But as much as she tried, her arguments were drowned out by the broader issues facing the nation. And that of course brought the conversations back to one Barack Obama.
At virtually every turn, Shaheen was foiled not only by Brown, but by the line of questioning in these debates. Brown and the Republicans have been “nationalizing” this race for months, and most of the questions posed to the two on Tuesday and Thursday nights were “nationalized” questions, including those posed by “national” Washington-based moderators.
And it all played into Brown’s wheelhouse.
This is not to suggest that these questions shouldn’t have been posed. Of course they should have been posed.
But because of plethora of these types of questions – based on the many crises and challenges the nation as a hole faces these days – and a lack of questions specifically about New Hampshire, Shaheen was on the defensive constantly.
It’s a fact that national and world events – such as the Ebola issues and ISIS – have been ratcheted up to the point where, as of today, they are the “October surprise.” They have overshadowed, if not blown up, the Democrats’ strategy of trying to paint Brown (and other individual GOP senators across the country) as tools of “Big Oil,” the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, and in Brown’s case, as disingenuous on “women’s issues,” such as choice, contraception and equal pay.
So, again, the majority of questions were national issues posed by national moderators, and that brought the debate constantly back to Obama, the one-time political “rock star” whose star as fallen into territory occupied by Jimmy Carter during the hostage crisis and George W. Bush during the Iraq war.
In fact, in 2008, when Bush was President, the roles were reversed. Challenger Shaheen was then the one who “nationalized” the race and connected then-Sen. John E. Sununu to Bush. Sununu, she said time and time again, voted with Bush 90 percent of the time.
As the New York Times wrote on Oct. 31, 2008, “All year, her main theme has been to tie Mr. Sununu to President Bush, and it seems to be working.” And indeed it did.
Now, times have changed. Now, we’re watching Shaheen try to distance herself from this President.
Her memorable lines from the first debate this week were about Obama. When asked (for the record, by a New England Cable News reporter, not NBC’s Chuck Todd) for a “yes” or “no” answer on whether she believes Obama has done a good job, she said, “In some ways I approve, in some ways I don’t approve.”
That prompted a smattering of laughter from the Brown supporters in the audience.
She went on to say, “Like most questions that we deal with as policy-makers, there aren’t simple answers, yes or no.” She then returned to her message, adding, “You know, I work for New Hampshire and Scott Brown talks a lot about one survey and 99 percent of the time I voted with the President. But the numbers I’m proudest of are the 259 people who are working at the Berlin prison….it’s the 1,200 people who were being foreclosed on who our office worked with to keep in their homes…”
Not a bad answer in total, but the damage was done. The first sentence, the sound bite, went viral. Not the second part.
And then in the Thursday night debate, asked why she does not want Obama to come to the state to campaign with her, she answered, “I never said I didn’t want President Obama to come here and campaign with me.
“The fact is, he’s busy in Washington” dealing with Ebola and ISIS, she said, and, “I think he’s exactly where he needs to be.”
Shaheen went on to talk – again – about New Hampshire-specific issues, including giving young people the ability to refinance student loans.
But the moderator – in this case Wolf Blitzer of CNN – pressed on, noting that Obama has campaigned in Illinois and Maryland.
“Do you want him to come here in these final days and campaign for you?” Blitzer asked, no doubt to the delight of Brown and his supporters (and probably somewhere, a former senator named Sununu and his former governor father).
“We have a lot going on,” Shaheen answered. “I don’t think it makes sense for the President to come to New Hampshire right now.”
Ouch. Sound bite.
Shaheen tried to stay on message. She tried to communicate that she, by virtue of her many years here, simply has a keener, more personal understanding of the state and the needs and concerns of Granite Staters, than Scott Brown does.
“He comes here to New Hampshire and he says he supports small businesses,” she said in the NH1/CNN debate, for example. “But look at his record in Washington because what he supported in Washington were the corporate special interests, big oil, giving $19 billion to the big banks and outsourcing American jobs.
“We don’t need to import a candidate who is going to outsource our jobs.”
Not a bad couple of lines.
But in the end the memorable moments were the ones in which the tables were turned on 2008. The moments during which she, like Sununu six years ago, labored to distance herself from an unpopular President in a mid-term election.
It didn’t help that Shaheen was unclear – some would say clearly flipped and then flopped – on an Ebola-related travel ban.
Ten days ago, she said a travel ban did not “make sense.” Last Monday, she said he should be open to travel bans “if they would work.”
In the Tuesday debate, she said all steps should be taken to address Ebola, “including a travel ban, if we can figure out if that that actually improves the situation.”
But then on Thursday, she seemed to backtrack, saying that she and Brown “aren’t infectious disease experts, so we really need to rely on the experts. We need to make sure we take every measure that’s going to keep people safe.
“What we’ve heard from the experts is there is concern that a travel ban would make this worse. I’m in the camp of let’s do what’s going to work based on what we’re hearing from medical experts and emergency response experts.”
Pressed by Blitzer, she added, “What I’ve said is that a travel ban, if that’s what the experts tell us we need to do and if that’s workable, I think that’s what we should support. But I’m not willing to tell the experts that this is what we have to do.”
This gave Brown an opportunity to say that Shaheen was not forceful, and would rather “wait for the President” before taking a clear stance.
“You don’t need to be an expert to, once again, use common sense policies,” he said.
On sending troops to Iraq to battle ISIS, Brown accused Shaheen and Obama of wanting to “take the greatest fighting force off the table right away,” saying that “is not how you deal with a battle.”
She said she does not support sending ground troops into Iraq “as an occupying force,” said the coalition established by the Obama administration is working,” and accused Brown of fear-mongering and “political grandstanding.”
“It’s not a mistake to take it (ground troops) off the table right now,” she said, referring to comments made recently by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Again, thoughtful, but not direct.
Shaheen was a bit more aggressive in the second debate than in the first. But Brown was steady, relentlessly on the Obama/Shaheen message, in both, taking clearer up-or-down stands on these key issues.
He came away the winner. And maybe he was the winner because, thanks to one Barack Obama, he had the far easier message to convey. And he was provided opportunity after opportunity to convey it.
What does it mean? Well, for one thing, that next week’s debate, a key event to begin with, will be all the more important for Shaheen. The question will be: What, if anything, can Shaheen do to overcome the Obama albatross, to divert the narrative from her record of support for him, and to somehow put Brown on the defensive?
The polls, and the so-called “experts” have been moving this race from leaning toward Shaheen to being a toss-up.
And most of the evidence suggests that is true, that it is indeed a toss-up.
Brown has the momentum right now. For him, it’s a matter of staying the course.
Shaheen? She has three things going for her.
One, in all polls, she is viewed on a personal level more favorably than Scott Brown. More people like her better than Brown.
Two, even in the recent “dead heat” polls, when people are asked who they believe will actually win on Nov. 4, most say she will, and they say that by a wider margin than her head-to-head numbers versus Brown would suggest. That means some Brown supporters believe she will win, or at least they did before these debates.
And third, there are still 11 days to go. That’s an eternity. Most undecided Granite Staters will only begin to focus next week. And even though the wind is at Brown’s back right now, this is, after all, New Hampshire, where the voters often have surprises in store.
We shall see.
SENATE FEC REPORTS. Finally, as of Friday, the Federal Election Commission put on line Brown’s October campaign finance report.
Shaheen’s was still not on the FEC web site, which now carries an interesting notice:
“Unusually large paper reports filed by U.S. Senate candidates in the third quarter of the current cycle have overwhelmed our processing capacity, slowing public disclosure of those reports. Total page numbers far exceed all previous election cycles, and the Senate Public Records Office is continuing to process and forward additional campaign reports to the Commission. We regret the delay and are taking urgent action to publish copies of all Senate reports as quickly as possible.”
Brown’s reports showed that from Aug. 21, the day after the previous, pre-primary report was filed, through the Sept. 30 end of the third quarter, Brown raised $2.59 million and spent $2.44 million. In the Aug. 20 report, Brown had reported raising $1.06 million and spending $1.36 million between July 1 and Aug. 20.
So, during the quarter, Brown raised $3.65 million and spent $3.80 million. His cash on hand was $1.34 million.
Shaheen had reported having $3.5 million on hand as of Sept. 30 after raising $3.5 million during the quarter.
MARILINDA APOLOGIZES. Second District U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia this week apologized for not citing the author of an article of a National Review story during a New Hampshire House floor speech on same sex marriage in 2012.
The Huffington Post reported that she “plagiarized” a 2010 editorial in the National Review in five passages, including when she said, “A man and a woman who unite biologically may or may not have children depending on factors beyond their control, but the point is that a same-sex couple cannot thus unite.”
Click here for the report.
In a statement Thursday, Garcia said, “It appears I did not verbally attribute select excerpts of a speech I delivered on the House floor in 2012 to the article from which they came. I acknowledge that I should have verbally cited the author of the article, and apologize for the oversight.”
The Garcia campaign shot back that U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster was guilty of plagiarism in four instances in which sentences in her press releases or on her official or campaign web sites were lifted from web sites or statements of another congressman or an advocacy group.
BEWARE IMPOSTERS. The New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition put out word on Friday that “groups having no affiliation in this state” are conducting door-to-door campaigns for GOP candidates calling themselves tea party.
“Residents should be advised that ‘Tea Party Patriots’ is not a legitimate tea party but a Republican PAC established in 2009 using the name of the movement popularized in 2007,” the coalition said in a statement. “’Tea Party Patriots’ was started by GOP fundraiser gurus and consultants. Its leaders have managed to extract thousands of dollars from unsuspecting conservatives who have no idea that most of the money goes for office overhead and the salaries of the GOP operatives who run the group.
“Groups such as ‘Tea Party Patriots,’ ‘Tea Party Express’ and others do not have any organization in New Hampshire,” coalition said, pointing to what it called a “misleading article” in The Hill that the tea party in New Hampshire had “fallen in line” and was now advocating for mainstream GOP candidates, such as Scott Brown.
“Tea party members understood when they joined the NHTPC that it is not part of the GOP or any other political party,” the coalition said.
THREE STOPS FOR SHAHEEN, WARREN. As we reported earlier this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who defeated Scott Brown in Massachusetts in 2012, will be in New Hampshire today to campaign with Sen. Shaheen.
The stops, to launch get-out-the-vote canvasses, are 10:30 a.m. at Huddleston Hall at UNH in Durham; 1 p.m. at the IBEW Hall in Concord, and 3:30 p.m. at the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College.
IN THE 1ST DC. The National Republican Congressional Committee is up with a new ad that first attacks Rep. Carol Shea-Porter as a follower of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (have we heard this before?) and then promotes Republican Frank Guinta as a conservative leader who “brought a tax cap to Manchester” and “balanced four straight budgets.”
“We need a change,” the narrator says.
View the ad below.
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist/reporter in New Hampshire. He has been reporting on Granite State politics since 1982. 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.)