CONCORD — The state Republican Party is seeking another investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of campaign contributions from an organized labor-related political action committee to Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign committee – one of them from 2012.
Less than a week ago, Attorney General Joseph Foster ordered the Hassan campaign to return $24,000 of a $25,000 contribution she received the day after she officially became a candidate.
Today, NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn is asking Foster’s office to look into a $25,000 contribution from the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local political action committee that the “Maggie ‘12” committee received on June 15, 2012, the day she filed for governor for the first time with the Secretary of State – as well as a $10,000 contribution from the Plumbers and Steamfitters PAC she received on June 12 of this year.
But Horn also asked Foster to personally recuse himself from any involvement in what she hopes is a new investigation, noting that in 2012, before he was attorney general, he served on the Hassan campaign’s finance committee “and helped her raise money during the time of the questionable contribution at issue.
“Given this connection to the 2012 donation, and your involvement in developing and guiding then-candidate Hassan’s fundraising strategies and outreach, it would be best if you stepped aside in this matter in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, and to ensure the continued confidence of New Hampshire residents,” she wrote.
Horn points out the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local did not register a PAC with the Secretary of State’s office until nearly two months after the 2012 donation was received by the “Maggie ‘12” committee and wrote it appears to be a violation.
“This (2012) donations resembles the illegal $25,000 contribution made by the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) PAC to Governor Hassan’s reelection campaign on the day she filed for office in 2014,” Horn wrote.
She noted that last week, the Attorney General’s office ruled that because the IBEW PAC donation was received by the Hassan campaign committee comm after she filed for office, she was ineligible to receive an unlimited PAC to PAC contribution. As a result, $24,000 of the contribution had to be returned. Foster agreed with Hassan that unlimited PAC to PAC contributions are entirely legal before a candidate files for office.
In 2012, Maggie ’12 filed a campaign finance report five days after she converted her political committee to a candidate committee. In 2014, she did not file a report six days after converting her political committee to a candidate committee.
Horn wrote that based on filings with the Secretary of State’s office 2012 by the “Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC,” with the same address as the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union 131, it did not register as a PAC until Aug. 2, 2012, “nearly two months after this PAC allegedly gave candidate Hassan $25,000.
“Even more troubling, there is no mention of this $25,000 donation on any of the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC finance reports filed with the Secretary of State during the 2012 cycle,” she wrote. “The PAC filed reports on August 22, 2012, October 17, 2012 and November 14, 2012. The contribution simply doesn’t exist on any of these reports.
“Either the Hassan Campaign or the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC filed a false document, given the discrepancy regarding the $25,000 donation. If in fact the Local Union 131 Volunteer PAC did make the June 15th donation, they would have broken the law by waiting until August to file. Additionally,given the questionable nature of this donation, there are questions as to whether the Hassan Campaign received this check before or after she officially became a candidate.”
Horn also noted that the Local Union 131 PAC subsequently registered again for the 2014 cycle and made a $10,000 contribution to Hassan’s re-election campaign on June 12, 2014, the day she formally became a candidate.
“Given Governor Hassan’s history of accepting illegal contributions, and the concern for, and potential of, undue influence stemming from such illegal contributions, we ask that the Department of Justice review both the 2012 $25,000 donation (from 2012) and the 2014 $10,000 donation to ensure that they are legal,” Horn wrote.