NH Democrats fire back with FEC complaint against Scott Brown
By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD – In the ever-escalating battle over a possible general election matchup between Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown, the state Democratic Party fired back Thursday with its own complaint to the Federal Election Commission.
The party charges that Brown’s campaign apparently violated federal campaign election law by failing to report campaign expenditures while he was exploring a candidacy and that Brown filed as a candidate later than required by FEC regulations.
The request for an investigation came four days after the state Republican Party filed a complaint against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign, charging it “illegally coordinated” with the pro-Democratic Senate Majority PAC by telegraphing a message on her campaign website similar to the one used in a new PAC television ad.
The NHGOP charged that by coordinating with the SuperPAC, headed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Shaheen campaign accepted an “illegal contribution” from the PAC.
The Senate Majority PAC has labeled the NHGOP complaint “ridiculous.”
And NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn today is calling the NHDP complaint against Brown “absurd” and “a desperate attempt” by Shaheen “to distract from the dark ethical cloud hanging over her campaign.”
The NHDP filing notes that while Brown did not file an exploratory committee with the FEC until mid-March, he decided to become a candidate on Feb. 14. Brown said in a recent television interview that he and his wife made that decision during a conversation on Valentine’s Day.
The NHDP says that “for almost a year,” Brown “traveled around New Hampshire exploring a possible candidacy for U.S. Senate.
“During the course of this exploratory activity, and after he decided to become a candidate on Feb. 14, 2014, Mr. Brown and/or his campaign committee incurred expenses of debt obligations for travel, communications, websites, web videos, footage, a bank account and a post office box, and possibly for other campaign expenses like staff, consultants, rent and overhead.”
The party points out that that in his first filing with the FEC, covering Jan. 1 to March 31, however, Brown’s campaign committee no expenditures.
The complaint says that Brown’s “refusal to provide a full accounting of its exploratory expenses may be hiding another violation: the failure of Mr. Brown or his committee to timely register with the (FEC).”
It says that if Brown or his committee “had spent more than $5,000 exploring a candidacy” by Feb. 14, “he would have been required to file a Statement of Candidacy no later than March 1, 2014 and his committee would have been required to file a Statement of Organization no later than March 11, 2014.”
Both documents were filed on March 14. And at the same time, Brown severed his contract as a contributor on the Fox News channel.
The complaint says that Brown launched a “coming soon” web site as early as Jan. 15, decided to run on Feb. 14, announced an exploratory committee on March 14 and then immediately changed the web site into “a full campaign-style” site with a video of Brown and Granite State residents supporting him, and then subsequently in March launched two more web videos.
An April television ad includes video of Brown visiting diners and other spots in the state during March.
Ye, the complaint says, the Brown campaign’s first report listed no expenses, showing that “the evidence is clear” Brown failed to properly disclose expenditures.
In a statement accompanying the complaint, state Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley said, “Scott Brown decided to become a candidate for Senate on Valentine’s Day, and that should have triggered FEC filing requirements and deadlines that he clearly did not meet. We’re asking the FEC for a thorough and swift investigation.
“For five weeks after he decided to become a candidate, Scott Brown refused to admit it, misleading the people of New Hampshire, ducking the law, and using his spot on Fox News to attack Jeanne Shaheen,” Buckley said.
Brown’s campaign dismissed the charges, said any bills are paid when invoices arrive and any all Brown campaign expenses and payments for the exploratory phase will be listed on its next FEC filing, which would come in July, covering April 1 to June 30.
“Scott Brown formed his exploratory committee on March 14. In those early days, the biggest expense we incurred was gas for Scott’s pick-up truck,” said campaign spokeman Elizabeth Guyton. “We just moved into our campaign headquarters, and as bills get submitted, they get paid.”
NHGOP chair Horn added: “Shaheen has gone into full-blown panic mode as she faces a pending federal investigation into her efforts to illegally coordinate with the same type of outside money groups that she has dishonestly denounced.
“Instead of responding to the serious questions raised about her integrity, Shaheen is showing Granite Staters that she is a desperate Washington politician who will do and say anything to distract from her blatant hypocrisy and unethical behavior,” Horn said.