Hassan returns another $9,000 to union PAC donor, prompting another NHGOP ‘ethics’ attack
CONCORD – State Republicans launched a new round of attacks questioning Gov. Maggie Hassan’s “ethics” and “credibility” today after her campaign returned $9,000 of a $10,000 contribution it received a day after the campaign was legally allowed to accept it.
That brings to $33,000 the amount the Maggie ’14 campaign committee has returned to two donors as a result of New Hampshire Republican Party’s complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office last week and this week questioning the legality of large contributions to Hassan’s political committee from political action committees associated with organized labor groups.
Attorney General Joseph Foster ruled last week that while Hassan’s political committee was allowed to accept unlimited contributions before she filed for reelection, once she filed, she was subject to contribution limits that apply to candidates.
Based on that guidance, two $10,000 contributions received by Hassan on June 12 – the day she filed for reelection – were ruled legal by Foster. But he said Hassan could keep only $1,000 of a $25,000 contribution from the pro-Northern Pass International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC that was physically received by the Hassan camp one day too late — on June 13.
The NHGOP this week questioned another contribution – this one for $10,000 from the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union PAC – that was dated June 12. But Hassan’s campaign said it voluntarily had returned $9,000 of that contribution on Monday – before the new NHGOP complaint – because that contribution had also been physically received on June 13.
“While the June 12, 2014 contribution by the Plumbers and Steamfitters political committee was issued before the deadline, the funds were physically delivered the next day and the campaign already returned the funds on Monday in line with the new guidance. The 2012 contribution was both issued and physically delivered the day of the filing,” Hassan campaign spokesman Aaron Jacobs said in a statement to the Concord Monitor.
“It’s clear from the New Hampshire Republican Party’s desperate attacks that they’re trying to distract from the fact that their candidates are simply rehashing the same disastrous Bill O’Brien/Koch Brothers agenda that voters rejected in 2012,” Jacobs said in a statement to the Telegraph.
Still unclear, however, is why the Hassan committee was not required to report by a June 18 deadline the donations she received before she filed her candidacy. Associate Attorney General Richard Head told the New Hampshire Journal on Wednesday that while the Hassan committee was able to take the unlimited contribution because it was not an official candidate political committee, it was also not required to report the donation when other non-candidate committees did.
Head explained that by the time the June 18 deadline arrived, the governor had “self-designated” the committee as a political committee of a candidate – making it immune from the June 18 deadline and subject only to an Aug. 20 deadline.
The state GOP also asked Foster to recuse himself from any new probe because he was a strong political supporter of Hassan and served on her 2012 campaign’s finance committee.
As for the newly disclosed $9,000 in returned contribution from Hassan, NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn said in a statement:
“Governor Hassan has engaged in a troubling pattern of illegal behavior that has damaged her credibility and raised serious ethical questions about her administration. Once again she has been caught red-handed taking thousands of dollars in illegal contributions and putting the concerns of the special interests that are funding her campaign ahead of New Hampshire’s interests.
“The dark ethical cloud hanging over the Hassan Administration has undermined public confidence in state government and called Governor Hassan’s integrity into question. It’s time for the governor to come clean by disclosing any further illegal donations she may have received and immediately releasing her campaign finance reports.”