MONDAY, AUG. 4: AYOTTE BLAMES OBAMA. Sen. Kelly Ayotte says President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive order that protected young illegal immigrants from deportation has “created, contributed” to the current influx of illegal immigrants at the border.
In a video obtained by the New Hampshire Journal, Ayotte, following a veterans event in Merrimack last Friday, explained why she had voted the previous night against President Obama and the Democrats’ $3.6 billion border spending bill.
In the interview, she said, “The other policy change that I hope we will take up is the President’s 2012 executive order that I think has created, contributed to what we see, the influx, the sudden influx, that’s really increased. If you trace it, it really did increase dramatically in about June of 2012 when that order was issued.
“That said, it also, I think it left an impression to these cartels too, that you know, when you come to America you can stay here even if you are not legally permitted to be here,” she said.
NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn agreed and went on to say that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen “blindly supported” the Obama executive order and supported an overall “failed” border security policy.
Watch the full video below.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
THURSDAY, JULY 31: GOP: NOT THE SAME. When Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown attacked Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in an ad this week and recently on the campaign trail for supporting President Obama’s immigration policies, the Democrats returned fire by pointing out that both Shaheen and Sen. Kelly Ayotte backed the same immigration reform bill in 2013.
“With Scott Brown struggling, both his campaign and the state Republican Committee are launching another desperate and dishonest attack. But this one isn’t just aimed at New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen — they are bashing the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, backed by Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte too,” the state Democratic Party wrote in a press release.
The state Republican Party, however, is pointing out that the records of the two senators are not the same on border security.
The NHGOP points out that while Ayotte favored an amendment to build 350 miles of reinforced, double-layered border fencing in June of 2013, Shaheen voted against it.
Also, the NHGOP points out, while Shaheen opposed sending 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in May 2010, Ayotte, then a candidate for the Senate, issued a statement on her Facebook page supporting it.
Republicans also note that Ayotte opposed President Barack Obama’s action in 2012 that protected young illegal immigrants from deportation, while Shaheen said it was “a step in the right direction” and “the right thing to do.”
Ayotte also supports the CREST Act, which would return unaccompanied minors to their home countries on an expedited basis, introduced earlier this month by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Arizona Republicans.
Shaheen has not yet voiced specific support for the bill, however, her spokesman recently told the New Hampshire Union Leader that she was reviewing “additional legislation and potential changes to current law that may be needed to address the (border) crisis. She believes that unaccompanied children from Central American nations should be processed for repatriation expeditiously, unless their lives are at risk or if they qualify for asylum or other humanitarian protections guaranteed by federal law.”
Tonight, Ayotte voted against President Obama and the Democrats’ $3.6 billion border spending bill because, she said, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not allow amendments, including her provision to end Obama’s 2012 executive order that stopped deportation of those who entered the country illegally as minors.
She said the bill “does nothing to change current law, which has created incentives for people to enter our country illegally. We need real reforms to address the border crisis, and I’m disappointed that the Senate Majority Leader blocked Senators from offering proposals that would actually help solve the problem and more responsibly target funding toward border security.”
Shaheen voted in favor of the bill.
The bill did not reach the necessary 60-vote threshold and failed to pass.
Interestingly, the two senators will be joining forces on Friday on another issue – a major Department of Veterans Affairs reform bill which passed the Senate Thursday and is now on its way to Obama for his signature. It would give veterans “the option to seek care from a private provider if they live more than 20 miles from the nearest full-service VA hospital,” according to a joint statement.
Shaheen and Ayotte will hold a press conference at the Merrimack VFW Post 8641 to discuss the bill. Ayotte has endorsed Brown for the Senate seat now held by Shaheen.
(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30: CHRISTIE CRITICZED ON JUDGES. The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative 501c-4 advocacy group, began three days of television, radio and digital advertising on Wednesday calling New Jersey Gov. and possible 2016 presidential candidate Chris Christie too liberal on judicial appointments and accusing him of breaking a promise to appoint judges who will “not legislate from the bench.”
Christie, who is also chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is scheduled to arrive in the first-in-the-nation primary on Thursday to raise money for the state GOP and campaign with candidate for governor Walt Havenstein.
Click here for our full report.
SATURDAY, JULY 26: LAW BREAKERS? According to the campaigns of Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidates Gary Lambert and Marilinda Garcia, the other is a law breaker.
The latest war of words came after Lawson Brouse, a Democrat from Salem who ran unsuccessfully for state representative in the 1990s, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission this week questioning Garcia’s “Race to Congress” fund-raising event at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 28.
Brouse, despite being a Democrat, acknowledged that he is friendly with Lambert. But he said the Lambert campaign did not put him up to filing the complaint.
He said he has long been interested in campaign finance law and simply is seeking clarification on the practice of in-kind contributions and campaign event “giveaways.”
Brouse asks the FEC to look into, as his letter to the commission pointed out, “Some of the event expenses included renting out the speedway venue for the night, a live band, free food and refreshments, pace car rides around the speedway, and two tickets to a future NASCAR race on 07/13/2014.”
But he notes that Garcia supporter Jerry Gappens, general manager of the speedway, and his wife, Lucy, are listed on Garcia’s second quarter FEC report as contributing only $2,600 and $2,320, respectively, in in-kind contributions.
Brouse reasons that, first, the true cost of what was provided must have been much more than $4,920, and, second, Gappens had no standing to effectively donate the use of the facility because he is not the owner, but rather an executive vice president – that is, an employee – of Speedway Motorsports, Inc, a parent company of New Hampshire Motor Speedway.“
“Speedway Motorsports Inc. is also a corporation, so it cannot legally in-kind the expenses from the event,” wrote Brouse.
But Brouse is not accusing Gappens or the speedway of breaking the law. His letter is directed at Garcia and her campaign. In his letter, he says instead that the Garcia campaign broke the law by “improperly filing the receipts and disbursements” in its quarterly report.
In an interview, he back-peddled a bit, saying that he is now merely questioning the practice.
“I’m concerned with campaign finance and I just question this,” he said. “I looked into this and there are ways to go about this type of thing that are proper.”
Garcia campaign manager Tom Szold said the campaign did its homework before getting involved in this event, and there is nothing illegal about it.
Szold said the Gappens’ in-kind two contributions, totaling $4,920, covered the costs of 80 pairs of tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which were given to the first 80 people who purchased tickets to the fund-raiser. The $4,920 also included the food served at the event, other amenities and the cost of renting the garage in the track infield were the event was held, he said.
Scold said the event took place in a tiny fraction of the massive facility, so the entire speedway was not being rented out.
The Lambert campaign, perhaps still smarting from Szold’s accusation that it had broken campaign finance law the previous day by taking two questionable contributions (click here for our report), did not hold back in its attack on Garcia over the speedway event.
Lambert campaign manager Josh Davidson said:
“Marilinda Garcia has broken the most basic and fundamental campaign finance laws. It seems there is nothing Rep. Garcia will not do to further her political career, even if it means breaking the law.
“First, she accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from big-money Washington insiders and special interest” – a reference to the Lambert campaign’s accusation earlier in the week that that only 13 percent of her contributions came from inside the state.
“Now, we learn that Rep. Garcia held an extravagant event at the New Hampshire Speedway, which her campaign paid for with illegal contributions and also failed to report the full cost of the event. Candidates should be held accountable for how they run their campaigns; Rep. Garcia owes 2nd District voters an explanation as to how she paid for this event.”
“Gary Lambert’s flailing campaign has reached a new level of desperation. Attempting to deflect attention from his habit of accepting illegal corporate contributions, he has latched onto a spurious FEC complaint filed by a liberal Democrat ally over an event held by the Garcia campaign. He should stop looking for ways to defame a fellow Republican and instead refund the illegal contributions that his campaign reported to the FEC.”
Garcia supporters point out that Lambert’s campaign did not deny that that it broke the law when it took a contribution from what appears to be a 501-c3 charitable foundation and a corporation as part of a huge influx of donations on the final day of the quarter.
For the record, the Lambert campaign did not admit breaking the law, either. It said it would review its donations and return any improper ones. It said it will act if necessary within a 60-day window allowed by the FEC.
This latest battle comes after the Lambert called on Garcia to join him in asking that the Washington-based Club for Growth advocacy group take down an ad in support of Garcia that references “skyrocketing” gasoline prices, when in fact gasoline prices – while high, like everywhere in the country — are not currently “skyrocketing.”
“It is wrong and sad to see an outside money group bankrolled by Washington insiders blatantly distort the facts in order to try to win an election,” said Lambert. “Dishonest campaign tactics like this should have no place in our democratic elections.”
The back-and-forth this week prompted the third major candidate in the race, Jim Lawrence of Hudson, to issue a statement telling the other two to essentially knock it off and play nice.
“Illegals are flooding our borders, Obama is making a mockery of our standing in the world and these two candidates want to bicker about political contributions. It is nauseating to the average person. It is exactly why neither of them have gained any traction in the polls and why we were even with them in the last poll and are gaining momentum.”
Lawrence challenged the two to a series of three debates on national issues, adding:
“Annie Kuster is getting a free pass on her filings while Lambert and Garcia bicker about who has the most Washington money trying to influence New Hampshire voters and bicker about how each of their Washington PAC and other special interest contributions are filed or used in political advertising. After listening to them go back and forth for a week of this, someone has to tell them enough is enough….Your bickering will hurt the whole party.”
All of which should make for a very interesting debate on Wednesday when yours truly joins Jack Heath and Garcia, Lambert and Lawrence on “New Hampshire Today” at 8 a.m. on WGIR-AM and 96.7-FM.
DAN VS. FRANK ON GOVERNMENT “SPYING.” Our line of questioning to 1st District GOP U.S. House GOP hopefuls Dan Innis and Frank Guinta over the NSA, government “spying” and the Patriot Act at Wednesday’s debate on WGIR-AM prompted a harsh exchange between the two.
Innis has said that Guinta supports a “surveillance state” and continued the drumbeat against Guinta on Wednesday.
Guinta, defending his support of the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11, said, “You either stand with the terrorists or you stand with freedom and protecting Americans.”
Innis Friday fired back in an email to supporters: “Not only are Frank Guinta’s comments insulting to the millions of Americans with legitimate concerns about the Patriot Act and NSA surveillance, they are also completely out of touch.”
Calling Guinta’s statement “ridiculous,” Innis challenged the former congressman to another debate, this one :on the Patriot Act, government surveillance and NSA overreach.”
The Guinta campaign did not immediately respond to the criticism or the debate challenge.
BOB’S FUNDRAISING FIRM. Former Sen. Bob Smith raised $133,000 in the second quarter of the year, but he incurred a bill of $31, 265 to do it.
That means that for every dollar Smith raised 23 cents of it would, or will eventually, go to the fund-raising firm Base Connect, Inc. The percentage is not nearly as high as what the Base Connect direct mail fundraising firm has taken from other Republican clients, but it isn’t exactly cost-effective either.
Base Connect, which deals with Republicans, has been the subject of several stories over the years being accused of fleecing clients, charges it strongly denies. But the record shows some clients have paid upwards of 80 percent or more of what they have raised to Base Connect. Click here and here.
Smith isn’t in that category, but campaign experts we’ve spoken to say that 23 percent is a high commission.
Smith paid the company $10,305 of the $31,265 bill incurred in the quarter and owed it $26,137.
POLL CHALLENGING. It happens every election. The UNH Survey Center’s is polling criticized – as are many polls – by supporters of those who are down in the polls.
This week it’s coming from Republicans insisting that the potential general election matchup between Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Scott Brown is closer than the 12-percentage point (50 to 38 percent) Shaheen advantage UNH reported.
They say a Magellan Strategies poll showing a mere 5 percentage point advantage for Shaheen should not be dismissed simply because Magellan is a pollster and the poll was commissioned by a GOP advocacy group, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire.
They say at least one key category of voters – the youth vote – is closer to historic reality for midterm elections in New Hampshire in the Magellan poll than in the UNH poll.
Republicans point that young votes are a much higher perentage of the overall voting population during presidential election years than in mid-term election years. In 2010 for instance, 14 percent of those who voted were 18-34, while in 2012, a presidential year, 28 percent of those who voted were in that age group.
In 2006, a mid-term year, only 10 percent of those who voted were 18 to 34 years old, but percentage in that category was up to 22 percent.
Two recent UNH polls of the U.S. Senate candidates favorable-unfavorable ratings and possible genearl election matchups appeared to have the 18-34 age category up in presidential election year territory. The April and July polls had that group at 28 percent of the overall sample.
Republicans argue that is why Shaheen was significantly ahead of Brown and say the Magellan Strategies poll for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, showing Shaheen ahead by 5 points, actually more accurately reflected the historical breakdown in the younger age category.
But Zachary Azem, research assistant for the UNH Survey Center, said UNH weighs its data by New Hampshire census totals with respect to age, gender and region of the state.
He said that in almost all telephone surveys, older people are more likely to answer the phone and complete the survey, making older people over-represented and younger people under-represented. Weighting the data is a way to help compensate for this, he said.
But he pointed out that the survey center also screens its overall sampling for likely voters.
He said that while 28 percent of the overall respondents in the July poll are between the ages of 18 and 34, just 58 percent of them identified themselves as likely voters. And while 18 percent of the overall sampling are are age 65 and over, 89 percent of them are 2014 likely voters.
“So with these two techniques we get both an accurate picture of the state in general when it comes to public opinion questions, as well as the electorate when it comes to the trial heat election questions,” Azem said.
_ Texas Gov. Rick Perry blasted Sen. Shaheen on Heath’s WGIR radio program on Thursday, saying he was not surprised that she did not criticize President Barack Obama for not going to the border to observe the crisis there when he recently went to Texas for fund-raisers. “She votes with President Obama 99 percent of the time,” he said. “if (Granite Staters) like what they see coming out of the White House, then Senator Shaheen is who they need to vote for.” Perry also said it is possible he will run for President in 2016.
_ Scott Brown, defending his support for the Hobby Lobby U.S. Supreme Court decision in a Fox News Channel piece this week, called himself “a pro-choice, moderate Republican.” He also again refused to say whether he supports or opposes an increase in the federal minimum wage, prompting criticism from Democrats.
_ The Democratic tracking group American Bridge PAC released a video this week of Bob Smith telling a Republican group he has a secret plan for saving the Social Security system but he did not want to detail it with a tracker in the room, because it would clue in the Democrats.
_ Brown rolled out a 203-member “Veterans for Brown” coalition on Thursday, and his campaign was quick to point out that it doubled the number of veterans Shaheen recently announced.
_ In the Democratic primary for the state Senate District 15 seat, no sooner was Kass Ardinger endorsed by EMILY’S List on Thursday than her opponent, Dan Feltes, rolled out a coalition of 60 women backing him. Among the many familiar names on the list were Karen Hicks, Arnie Arnesen and Barbara Keshen.
_ Shaheen sent out a fund-raising email this week in the wake of reports that the Karl Rove-led American Crossroads PAC is push polling in the state against her.
_ New Jersey Gov. and potential GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie will campaign with candidate for governor Walt Havenstein when Christie returns to New Hampshire on Thursday for a fund-raiser for the NHGOP.
_ The conservative issues advocacy group Americans for Prosperity this week released a study that maintained that if right-to-work legislation were passed in the state, “in two years the state could be reasonably expected to add 4,000 to 6,000 additional jobs beyond the average growth rate, with many of those jobs coming from neighboring states, which are all forced unionism states. Secondly, the state would approach full employment, with unemployment dropping to nearly 4.0 percent.” Union members, who protested at the Thursday meeting at the Derryfield Country Club, obviously disagreed strongly.
(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 and of course separate stories on NHJournal.com as news breaks. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)