For the second consecutive month, the state Republican Party has sent Gov. Maggie Hassan a letter seeking records of her out-of-state travel, this time for February.
The NHGOP contends that Hassan is using her office as a “stepping stone” for a run for the U.S. Senate next year against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. The Democratic Party, in turn, contends Ayotte is traveling to out-of-state events to promote herself as a possible vice presidential nominee.
“The New Hampshire Republican Party’s latest political stunt is just another sign of desperation from Kelly Ayotte, whose own travel has gotten her in hot water as she exploits ‘loopholes’ to hold expensive Utah ski weekends paid for by lobbyists and corporate interests,” NHDP chairman Raymond Buckley said, referring to a “destination fund-raiser” Ayotte held in Utah in January 2014.
NHGOP chairman Jennifer Horn, citing the state Right-to-Know law, today asked Hassan for “any information regarding the purpose and duration of travel, in addition to any costs incurred by New Hampshire taxpayers during your trips” in February.
Hassan’s attorney last month responded to Horn’s request for January travel records by saying that the Right-to-Know law does not apply to the Governor’s Office. But the attorney, Lucy Hodder, responded under Part I, Article 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution, which requires the governor to be “open accessible, accountable and responsive” and says the public’s right to records “shall not be unreasonably restricted.”
The Hodder listed one out-of-state stop for Hassan — a stop in Kittery, Maine, on Jan. 5, for an event marking the groundbreaking of construction on the Sarah Long Bridge replacement project.
Horn today cited a weekend Concord Monitor report that Hassan, after denying the newspaper copies of efficiency proposals she had received from department heads in formulating her budget, recently told department heads not to respond to direct requests to them from the newspaper for those proposals, and instead forward the requests to her office.
Horn accused Hassan of trying to “undermine New Hampshire’s Right to Know law by pressuring state agencies to ignore requests made by members of the media. Your actions are extremely troubling and indicate that the Hassan administration is trying to hide information from the public as you gear up to abandon your job as governor and run for United States Senate.
“Granite Staters have a right to know how often their governor is shirking the responsibilities of her office in order to advance her career. They also deserve a full-time executive in the corner office, not an absentee governor who has been dishonest about her political intentions,” Horn wrote.
In response to last month’s NHGOP request for Hassan’s record, the NHDP wrote to Ayotte’s office seeking “any information including dates, costs, and purpose of your extensive political travel outside of New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.”
The NHDP says Ayotte’s office has not responded to the request and today it renewed its request, with Buckley writing, “Particularly given the many legal and ethical questions surrounding your Utah ‘destination fund-raiser’ at the ski home of a lobbyist with business before one of your committees, we believe it’s important for the people of New Hampshire to know where and when you are traveling for political purposes and who is picking up the bill.”
Horn today also sent a letter to the state Commissioner of Safety John Barthelmes seeking, under the Right-to-Know law, “all records regarding the out-of-state travel of members of Governor Maggie Hassan’s state police security detail for the month of February 2015.”
The NHGOP believes that even if Hassan is exempt from the Right-to-Know law, state agencies, such as the Department of Safety, are subject to the law.
Hassan and Gov. Jeanne Shaheen today are attending the first of a two-day National Conference and Gala Dinner in Washington, D.C., of EMILY’S List, a nationwide political action committee that helps elect pro-choice women Democrats. Hassan tonight is scheduled to participate in a conference panel discussion on “Women and Executive Leadership.”
Earlier today, Hassan was in New York to address a University Club Lecture Luncheon Series.
Both events are listed on Hassan’s public schedule, released last Friday.