CONCORD — In the latest New Hampshire Republican Party move questioning Gov. Maggie Hassan’s ethics, it asked Friday for any information related to her new television ad, which was shot in part in the State House corner office.
After filing two complaints about several contributions to Hassan’s campaigns, NHGOP Jennifer Horn, in a request under the state right-to-know law, sought all information regarding the television ad shoot to determine if members of Hassan’s governor’s office staff may have had any role in the political activity. Hassan’s legal counsel responded that no staff was used “in any official capacity” and the ad was shot on a Saturday.
The NHGOP has noted that state law allows an elected official, such as Hassan, to appear in an ad on State House property. But the NHGOP questioned whether member of Hassan’s governor’s office staff were involved in the production.
The governor’s legal counsel, Lucy Hodder, responded that Hassan “was scheduled to participate in filming activities on Saturday, July 26, by her reelection campaign, and the only (governor’s) office communications that exist regarding the event confirm the scheduling details.”
Hodder also responded, “(N)o staff employed through the Governor’s office were schedule to assist or staff the Governor on July 26 in any official capacity and therefore there is no documentation from the Governor’s office that would be responsive to your request.”
Horn wrote that state election law prohibits public employees from “electioneering” while “in the performance of his or her official duties or use government property, including, but not limited to, telephones, facsimile machines, vehicles, and computers, for electioneering.”
Horn wrote, “Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor crime. Participating in the production of a partisan political ad in the governor’s office would certainly fit the definition of ‘electioneering.’
Horn’s request included all information “to determine when the ad was shot, documentation regarding any state employees who may have worked on this shoot and any emails or communications from your staff about this political ad.”
Although it was entirely legal for Hassan to appear in the ad in her State House office, Horn says it is “ethically questionable decision to use the sacred confines of the corner office as a political prop in your first partisan campaign,” calling it “extremely troubling.”
“It also raises questions about what other types of political activities you are conducting in the governor’s State House suite,” Horn wrote.