Political parties file dueling finance complaints in New Hampshire


CONCORD, N.H. -- In dueling complaints, both major political parties on Tuesday asked the attorney general to investigate what they call improper fundraising, spending or campaign finance reporting in the governor's race.

Democrats have said Republican hopeful Walt Havenstein spent $24,000 before he was legally allowed to, accepted $3,000 from political committees that aren't registered in the state and didn't properly report his campaign donations. Republicans, meanwhile, questioned whether a $25,000 donation to incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan made it to her coffers in time to avoid a campaign finance violation.

Henry Goodwin, a spokesman for Havenstein, said the complaints are a symptom of New Hampshire's unclear campaign finance laws and noted that Havenstein proposes several reforms including penalties for violations, quarterly reporting and treating political action committees the same as individuals.

Havenstein's Aug. 20 campaign filing shows he paid $24,000 to Strategic Consulting on March 5, almost a month before he officially registered his committee. State law says candidates have to register a committee within 24 hours of spending at least $500.

The campaign filings also show he accepted $2,000 from the Rogers for Congress committee of a Michigan congressman and another $1,000 from the Michigan-based PAC, Fund for American Opportunity. Neither is registered in New Hampshire.

Finally, the complaint notes that Havenstein's filings don't include all the required information on each donor, including occupation and employer.

"The Democrats are desperately attempting to distract from the Hassan Loophole," Goodwin said. "The issue concerning voters is that Maggie Hassan has taken unlimited contributions from special interest groups through her loophole. She is supposedly a champion of campaign finance reform, but has left people with the impression that influence can be bought."

Soon after the Democrats' complaint became public Tuesday, Republicans countered with a complaint that initially said Hassan accepted $50,000 from the Emily's List political action committee even though the committee did not file the required reports with the secretary of state.

They later amended the complaint to instead say the group that raises money for women candidates donated $25,000 to Hassan on June 11, one day before she filed her campaign paperwork. Had the campaign received the donation after June 12, it would be a finance law violation but a Hassan campaign spokesman said that contribution -- and a second one for $25,000 made on June 4 -- was received before the deadline.

"Given that their initial complaint about Emily's List was found to be completely false, the NHGOP has no credibility on this issue and their complaint has no merit," said spokesman Aaron Jacobs.

Campaign finance has emerged before in this year's governor's race. The GOP in July accused Hassan of accepting union contributions after she had officially filed her campaign paperwork. Hassan ended up returning $33,000.


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