In a developing drama that indicates just how dysfunctional the New Hampshire Republican State Committee is under the leadership of Chairman Jack Kimball, Joe Barton, a key Kimball ally who now lives in California, used the GOP’s own Facebook page to post a $1,500 ransom for anyone willing to primary Republican State Senator Sharon Carson.
And after a state GOP staffer removed the ransom note from Facebook and banned Barton from the Facebook group in question, someone reinstated Barton’s posting rights. And Barton immediately re-posted his ransom.
Joe Barton is the Republican activist Kimball once identified as his “black ops guy.”
This is not Barton’s first attack on Sen. Carson. In April, Barton was alleged to have sent a threatening e-mail and made a phone call to Carson. “On Sunday, April 10th, I received a telephone call from a person who made statements that rose to what I believe to be of a criminal threatening nature and I felt was necessary to report to my local law enforcement,” Carson said in a release at the time.
The latest drama began to unfold on Saturday evening when Barton posted the following on the NH GOP’s Facebook page: “Offering $1,500 to whoever primaries Sen. Sharon Carson.”
According to multiple GOP sources, Barton’s post kicked off a war of words among party leaders demanding the post be removed from Facebook and several admonitions to Chairman Kimball that he is responsible for gaining control of the situation.
Christine Baratta, the NH GOP’s communications director who shares responsibility for administering the site, removed the post and revoked Barton’s posting privileges.
But within just a matter of hours, someone granted posting rights to Barton again and he restated his ransom. “In The Spirit of Chairman Sununu who encouraged competition in the 2010 Gubernatorial Primary; I offer $1500 to the Republican that Primaries Sen. Sharon Carson,” he wrote in the middle of the night.
NH Journal has learned that Dover Republican Chris Buck is responsible for administering the Facebook property in question. Attempts to confirm this with Buck and the state party were unsuccessful. Buck is running for Mayor of Dover.
The NH GOP claims not to condone attacks like Barton’s. “As we enter the Presidential primary season, we encourage all members to post information highlighting the positive qualities of the candidates they support,” reads a statement on the party’s Facebook page, “Negative attacks on other Republicans will not be permitted.”
Neither the NH GOP nor Buck responded to requests for comment.
The controversy could complicate matters for Kimball, who is in a rebuilding phase after depleting state party funds to only $1,300 in June. This led to Kimball and finance chairman Bill Binnie to hold a pair of emergency finance meetings in which Binnie doled out fundraising assignments to the Republican federal delegation, the Executive Council, and GOP leaders of the state legislature. Several sources tell NH Journal that Kimball has been frantically calling these Republican leaders to collect on their assignments, not all of which had originally been agreed upon.
The developing war of words could spill into Tuesday night’s GOP executive committee meeting, which is open to the press and the public.