Gov. Maggie Hassan filed to run for U.S. Senate on Monday, and she left the Granite State the next day for three fundraisers in Manhattan on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hassan has faced mounting questions in recent weeks for out-of-state political travel at taxpayer expense, and in an exclusive video provided to NH Journal, Hassan was confronted by a questioner wanting to know why her first official act as a Senate candidate was a fundraising trip in New York City.
The video and question come from the Republican research group America Rising. It was filmed Tuesday outside the law offices of Lowenstein Sandler, where guests donated between $1,000 and $5,400 in a joint fundraiser for Hassan and Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
Hassan’s out-of-state travel has garnered criticism from her political opponents and the media. She has been absent from the state for 40 days this year, which has led to censure from editorial boards. The Nashua Telegraph stated, “Hassan was elected to do a job, and being out of state for political reasons as often as she has strikes us as excessive…” Meanwhile, the Union Leader believes Hassan may be in violation of New Hampshire’s Constitution for secretly leaving the state on political trips without notifying the Senate president, who acts as governor in her absence.
The trips are becoming a political liability in a tax-conscious state. According to a report from the Concord Monitor, taxpayers have been responsible for funding salary and overtime costs for Hassan’s security detail when travelling out of state. The campaign has declined to reimburse taxpayers.
Hassan’s Republican opponent, incumbent U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, filed for candidacy on June 1. Ayotte’s campaign has noted the contrast that her first act as a candidate was a three-day tour across the state to meet with voters.