Guinta Starts Repaying Loans

Congressman Frank Guinta repaid himself $19,500 in personal loans from his campaign fund during the past three months, newly released campaign finance reports reveal, creating a scenario in which donors to Guinta’s re-election campaign are effectively giving money to a sitting elected official for his personal use.

The money is a small part of the $355,000 Guinta loaned himself during his winning campaign last year. After this partial repayment, Guinta still owes himself $335,500. The source of these funds has been subject to considerable speculation ever since Guinta filed an amended personal disclosure statement a year ago that listed a previously undisclosed bank account containing between $250,000 and $500,000.

Skeptics wondered how the Guintas, who by all outward appearances lived a modest middle class lifestyle, accumulated such savings, or how anyone could have forgotten about such an account when listing assets on disclosure statements. Guinta maintained that the funds were accumulated through years of hard work, frugal living, and shrewd investing, and described his failure to list the account as an oversight.

The loan repayment came amid a strong fundraising quarter for Guinta which put his campaign finances in the black for the first time in more than a year. Guinta has raised $536,279 in 2011 and reports $439,770 cash on hand. Were Guinta to repay himself the remaining $335,500 in loans, he would still have $104,270 on hand.

While many candidates loan personal funds to their campaigns, repayment is less common. Former Congressman Jeb Bradley and Governor John Lynch are among the New Hampshire candidates whose personal loans to campaigns were never repaid, in part to avoid the potential conflicts of interest that can arise when campaign contributions become personal payments.

Guinta has raised slightly more money from PACs than from individuals this year. Guinta raised $263,625 from PACs (49.2% of total funds) and $256,206 from individuals (47.8%), with the rest coming from miscellaneous revenue including Guinta’s participation in two joint fundraising committees that brought in $13,453.

Congressman Charlie Bass has raised $454,290 cycle to date with $382,116 cash on hand and zero debts. Of the money Bass raised this year, $356,250 came from PACs (78.4%) and $91,030 came from individuals (20%).

Bass has slightly more cash on hand than his expected challenger, Ann McLane Kuster. Kuster ended the quarter with $330,761 on hand after raising $372,628 campaign to date. An impressive 90% of Kuster’s funds came from individuals ($336,545) and just 6.3% came from PACs ($23,537).

Back in NH-1, Carol Shea-Porter reports raising $131,235 year to date with $83,146 cash on hand. 75% of Shea-Porter’s funds came from individuals ($98,205) and 14% came from PACs ($18,500). Less than half of Shea-Porter’s itemized contributions came from in state, a sign of Shea-Porter’s continued lagging support among establishment New Hampshire Democrats.

Joanne Dowdell of Portsmouth, who is challenging Shea-Porter for the Democratic nomination, raised a little less than Shea-Porter but ended the quarter with slightly more cash on hand. Dowdell raised $105,149, which includes a $5,000 contribution from herself and an additional $10,000 she loaned her campaign. Dowdell reported $102,197 cash on hand, including the loan. In a sign that suggests a lack of grassroots support, Dowdell listed just six itemized contributors from New Hampshire, only four of whom live in the First District. Dowdell reported receiving no PAC money.

 fergus@ferguscullen.com

Author: Fergus Cullen

Fergus Cullen is a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party (2007-2008) and an editorial page columnist for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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