NH Auto Dealers donated upwards of $200,000 before pushing SB 126

The New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association donated almost $200,000 to state legislators in the years leading up to their major lobbying effort to pass SB 126, a measure one Granite State pundit has called “nanny state foolishness” and “protectionist nonsense.”


The group has spent more than $187,000on political contributions within the last ten years. The group’s donation history reads like a Who’s Who of political power brokers in Concord.


An analysis of the NH Auto Dealers Association’s donation practices indicated it prizes access to power above all. Follow the Money shows there is neither rhyme nor reason to the NHADA's donations, other than to maintain close connections to people in positions of authority. For example, in 2008 and 2010, years when the Democrats held the State House, NHADA donated to Democrats over Republicans by nearly 3 to 1. But in 2012, when the GOP still held control of both Houses of the legislature, the NHADA evened out their donations to the two major parties. And regardless of party, 91% of all of NHADA's money flows to incumbents, and 81% of that money goes to the eventual winners. 


The result? The NHADA is pushing a measure (SB 126) that would nudge the state deeper and deeper into private contracts between auto manufacturers and auto dealers. As Granite State Taxpayers chief Jim Adams has written:


In essence, the Auto Dealers Association is asking the state legislature to allow it to pad new profits into warranty repairs at greater cost to consumers and manufacturers. This is not the role of the state government. Does anyone actually believe this would be an issue in the State Senate if it hadn’t been for the craftiness of the auto dealers’ fleet of lobbyists?


Auto manufactures and auto dealers enter into franchise agreements. Presumably they do so under their own volition and without any guns to their heads. That one party in those agreements now believes it has a political edge over the other and feels it can use that edge to serve its own interest is a terrible indictment on how nakedly transactional representative democracy has become, even in our Granite State.


And as Grant Bosse has pointed out:


… [I]f such franchise agreements are so costly and foolish, why did local car dealers sign them in the first place? They claim to lack any ability to say no. That’s flatly untrue. They are under no obligation to sell another company’s cars. They sign franchise agreements, including clauses that mandate the appearance and maintenance of their showrooms, because owning an exclusive territory selling a national car brand is immensely valuable. Now that they have this valuable asset, they are asking state government to change the terms of their deal.


Does anyone actually believe that SB 126 is necessary? Or is it the result of a very shrewd and generous donation strategy by the New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association.